Fall may officially arrive in late September, but summer turning into fall is a fuzzy process. There are a few crisp, cool days in between the heat and rain. You may go swimming one day and wear long sleeves the next. Some people cling to iced coffee, while others are reaching for an early pumpkin latte.
This uncertainty is also apparent than in the world of beer. Many people have a favorite light “lawnmower” beer, and many also reach for a strong stout during cold months. But what beer is best for August or September? Let’s take a look at the local offerings.
As is so often the case, Wedge gets it. Their late summer beer, Dark Imperial Pilsner, is toeing the seasonal line. While pilsner is a summer staple, by cranking up the ABV to 8.4 percent and dropping the color to near black, this beer could just as easily fit into fall. “It’s one of the only beers like this I know of,” says brewer Carl Melissas. Despite the name, the darkness is more about color than flavor. In fact, the first thing drinkers will notice is the hops — all floral German varieties. And there’s a lot of them: “We’re dry-hopping this with about three times as many hops per barrel as our Iron Rail … I’m really excited,” says Melissas.
Green Man is hanging onto summer for now with The Wayfarer. It’s a light wheat IPA, dry-hopped with Citra and Chinook. It’s bright and summery, while still packing almost 7 percent ABV. But when fall rolls around, Green Man will offer something new to study. The brewery is busy planning a historical series of eight new beers at the tasting room. All of them will be based on recipes brewed in England from 1850 to 1915, according to brewer Mike Karnowski.
Late summer means expanded hours and new beers for Burial Beer. Friday and Saturday remain the same, but the brewery is now open on Thursdays from 4 to 10 p.m. On the beer side, the owners are bringing out the first beers in their “Pollination” series. All three use a golden honey Saison as the base beer, but feature a different flower: passionflower, rose petal and jasmine.
Brewers from Burial and Hi-Wire recently teamed up to brew a Belgian Quad that will be aged in Bulleit Rye barrels. While it’s not ready yet, Hi-Wire is pouring its new seasonal, Ringmaster Red Rye. It’s a “liberally hopped ale with unmistakable rye malt character,” according to owner Chris Frosaker.
Out at Oskar Blues, they’re still pouring summery one-off beers. (Look for a Kiwi-infused Pils on Friday, Aug. 16.) But they’re also getting ready for colder days. Last week saw the delivery of three new tanks, and they just brewed their popular Ten Fidy Imperial Stout for the first time in Brevard. The “First in Fidy” release party will take place at the brewery’s tasting room, the Tasty Weasel, on Aug. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. Expect special release T-shirts and other goodies in addition to very fresh Fidy.
Last but not least, our future neighbor New Belgium is releasing an unusual take on an early fall seasonal. Dubbed Pumpkick, it starts out with pumpkin juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then the kick hits: they also threw in lemongrass and cranberries. While it might sound weird, if anyone can pull this off, it’s New Belgium. Suggested pairings include pumpkin pie, salted caramel apple pie, turkey potpie and broccoli mushroom pie. So really, just pick a pie.