(Originally published in Maine Today Magazine on September 18, 2014.)
Things change quickly in the modern world. The computer you’re reading this post on will be obsolete in a mind-numbingly short amount of time. Your cell phone? You might as well exchange it for a new one the day you bring it home.
But not all change is bad. And in this beer revolution we find ourselves in, the change is downright euphoric. New breweries pop up weekly in Maine and outside-the-box beers are being concocted at a staggering rate.
The fall beer offerings in Maine are no exception. Mainers are no longer limited to the old guard offerings that were once the only options in the fall season. Don’t get me wrong, I tossed back my fair share of Geary’s Autumn, Shipyard Pumpkinhead, and Gritty’s Halloween back in the day. I would never tell a beer drinker not to revisit these old friends—they’ve stuck around for a reason; however, it’s time we look beyond the OG’s and see what else is out there.
Here are a few beers you should put on your radar this fall.
Bonfire Rye Ale, Sebago Brewing Company
In their quest to keep forging forward into the great beer future, Sebago introduced this rye ale last fall. For me, a fall beer needs to have a strong malt foundation without crossing the line into the heavy stouts and porters indicative of winter beers. Bonfire Rye has that perfect malt character for a fall beer. To balance out that vibrant malt flavor, this beer has bright hop notes from a bounty of American hops.
Zoe Amber Ale, Maine Beer Company
This is another great example of a malty ale that is superb for fall nights when the air is crisp. Zoe pours a dark amber color and has the hop quality that is emblematic of Maine Beer Company brews. The beer starts off with a pleasing citrus aroma, and the flavor contains a wonderful symmetry between the malts and the citrus fruit hops. At the end of the tasting experience, you’re left with a subtle pine bitterness from the hops, but your tongue remains pleasantly coated in malty sweetness.
Armada Brown Ale, Rising Tide Brewing Company
A brown ale is another good fall beer choice, but the only problem is that brown ales can be a bit bland for my taste. The Armada Brown Ale from Rising Tide, however, has just the right balance of brown ale maltiness and clean hop notes to satisfy the palate. Rising Tide beers have a signature freshness imparted from their American ale yeast, and the synergy between the malt, the hops, and the yeast makes for a great fall brew. This limited edition beer is only available at the brewery in growlers.
Allagash Black, Allagash Brewing Company
I know I said earlier that I’m not ready for stouts and porters before the first snowfall, but this Belgium style stout from Allagash drinks more like a dark ale than a stout. Think of this beer as a dark, strong ale. Like most beers from Allagash, the Black has a refined flavor and shouldn’t be feared by people who claim not to like dark beer. It’s brewed with chocolate malts and caramelized candi sugar. Unlike the beers above, Allagash Black doesn’t have a strong hop character, but that lets the chocolate and toffee malt flavors really shine.
Hop Harvest Beers
With the burgeoning hop farm scene in Maine right now, you need to be on the look out for Harvest Beers from the countless breweries up and down this state who are brewing with local hops this fall. The Hop Yard in Gorham alone sourced hops to fifteen breweries in the area. On October 25th, In’finiti in Portland is having their Hoptoberfest featuring Harvest beers from fourteen different breweries. Though these hoppy beers might not be what we normally think of as fall beers, they are a must try for a true taste of Maine.
Cheers to a fall filled with tasty Maine beers!