Now that we have entered the Los Angeles version of autumn, it is time to move on to the beers of fall. Winter and summer seasonals get the most press due to the depth of choices available. It seems like every brewery has a Christmas beer or a summertime Kolsch. When people think of fall they zero in on the typical Oktoberfest beers at the expense of other good fall seasonal choices.
I will start with Pumpkin beer, a somewhat mocked version of a fruit beer except with pie-spice characteristics. These beers can be too sweet for some tastes and are harder to pair with food because of the spices and seeds used but if you have had your fill of pie this would be a worthy substitute. The most infamous Pumpkin comes from Seattle’s Elysian Brewery, which ferments a portion of their fall classic – Night Owl – in an actual pumpkin, which they then tap. It is a very popular annual Seattle event. Dogfish Head has their twisted version. Punk’n is one of the mildest Dogfish beers you will find. My first choice (of the selections below) is the Bison. It is not as sweet as the others.
PUMPKINS AVAILABLE IN LOS ANGELES
Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale
Bison Brewing Organic Pumpkin Ale
Shipyard Brewing Pumpkin Ale (AKA Kennebunkport or Sea Dog)
if you can find it
Dogfish Head Punk’n
California weather can stay brutally hot well into October so the big autumn beers that the rest of the country can start to enjoy do not fare as well on the palate here. What we can enjoy are brown ales. These beers are not the flavor of the month but when done well give you a roasted aroma and taste without the alcohol content of a Christmas seasonal. Newcastle is the most recognizable of the brown ales, but due to their inexplicable choice of clear bottles, you’ve quite possibly had more bad brown ales than good. Try the selections below for better results.
BROWNS AVAILABLE IN LOS ANGELES
Lost Coast’s Downtown Brown
Bear Republic Pete Brown’s Tribute Ale
Big Sky Moose Drool
AleSmith Nautical Nut Brown
The last style to take a look at is English Bitters. We tend to go the German Octoberfest route out of habit, but in Los Angeles the malty beers seem to taste better later into November when the wind finally starts delivering a chill. A solid, well-made bitter can really brighten up a smoggy September day without being as filling as the Octoberfest beers.
ENGLISH BITTERS AVAILABLE IN LOS ANGELES
Young’s Special London Ale
Rogue Brewing’s Younger’s Special Bitter
Rubicon Brewing ESB
Once you have tried these styles, you will be well prepared for the first annual Los Angeles Beer Week! From October 15 – 25, there will be tastings and talks all across LA. Go to LABeerWeek.com to check their packed schedule of events. This really shows how far Los Angeles has come as a beer town. And if you want it to get even better then show your support for the organizers of this event by attending or volunteering. The week ends with a beer fest at Descanso Gardens. I can’t imagine a nicer venue to enjoy an artisan ale or lager.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.
September 19, 2009 at 11:40 AM
You say that Bear Republic’s Tribute Ale is available in LA? Where? I haven’t been able to find it. Also, where can I find the Nautical Nut Brown? Would prefer a place I can pick up a case or at least a six-pack, but will gladly settle for a bar where it’s served.
September 19, 2009 at 12:03 PM
I recently drank a bottle of Bear Republic’s Tribute Ale at Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel. Nautical Nut Brown seems to be more prevalent. I’d check Cap’n Cork in Los Feliz, or maybe Galco’s in Highland Park.
September 9, 2009 at 11:54 AM
what about The Bruery’s Autumn Maple? Probably the only pumpkin style ale you’ll find out there that’s brewed with freshly roasted yams!
September 9, 2009 at 12:06 PM
Funny. “Brew & You” is Sean Inman’s beer column. He can choose whatever beers he likes, and Autumn Maple already got a shout-out on Food GPS: