Seasonal beers - Carla Jean Lauter

Fall Beers with a Twist

Fall is a spectacular time to live in (or visit) New England, and the change-over from summer into fall is often a graceful and beautiful transition. Seasonal beers, on the other hand, can sometimes fall into gimmicky and generic categories — we are flooded with dime-a-dozen pumpkin beers and Oktoberfest-style beers brewed from out of state. But across the state, several brewers have found ways to express their fondness for fall by pushing the boundaries of what a seasonal beer can be.


Sebago Brewing Company
Bonfire Rye
Instead of relying on spices added to the beer after fermentation, this autumn beer gets its slight spiciness from the rye used in its production. The backbone of this beer is a hoppy brown ale, but the rye elevates it to an earthy masterpiece of flavors that is complex yet easy to drink. Packaged in cans, this one slides in beautifully next to a late autumn cookout or a night under the stars. You may find yourself wishing this was brewed all year.


Funky Bow
Midnight Special
In Midnight Special, a straightforward porter is elevated to another tasty plane when cold-brewed coffee is added to the brew. This addition makes the resulting beer both hearty and flavorful, without being overly heavy. If you have some wood chopping ahead of you, this may be the beer to fuel your winter preparations. Though this isn’t truly an autumn beer, it does seem to fit very well into the flavor profiles of the season.



One of the series of beers that Allagash brews using an open vessel known as a Coolship, Ghlouschip is unique in that it includes pumpkin – but tastes nothing like a typical gourd-based brew. The funkiness of the wild yeasts and bacteria that create this beer, combined with some additional tartness that develops as it is aged makes this one a stand-out.


Rising Tide
Calcutta Cutter
Why add an Imperial IPA to a list of fall beers? Because this beer defines the onset of fall in Portland for many. When Rising Tide’s summer sessionable brew, Maine Island Trail Ale, stops production, the Calcutta Cutter is the next one on the canning and kegging line. When fresh, Calcutta Cutter is a masterfully crafted beer – the resinous hops are backed up with a solid backbone. While we may be lucky to have so many hop-forward beers available in our area, this one is still one that hop fans look forward to returning each fall.



Mast Landing
Gunner’s Daughter
Peanut butter stouts are rare enough in the craft beer world, but well-balanced and delicious ones are even rarer. Gunner’s Daughter avoids the trap of being too sweet, and instead is simply a stout wrapped in earthy peanut flavors that actually sends you back for more after each sip. For some reason, the aroma reminds me of soil and the earth – all of the aromas that fall brings to bare.


Smashed Pumpkin
As the nights get chillier, beers that are a little higher in alcohol can provide a source of warmth. An entirely different experience than Shipyard’s flagship seasonal Pumpkinhead, Smashed Pumpkin is rich, sweet and boozy. Best enjoyed in snifter glasses where you can fully appreciate the aroma, it is a more mature take on the typical pumpkin beer, and the burbon and oaky notes play well with the pumpkin spices.



Text: Carla Jean Lauter, The Beer Babe

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