With the cold weather approaching, it's time to ditch the shandies for something a little heartier. Along with a slew of pumpkin selections, autumn also brings spicier, heavier beers featuring ingredients that aren't often utilized in the summer. mental_floss talked to some breweries that will be at the Village Voice's upcoming event, Brooklyn Pour to find out what to drink this upcoming season. So crunch leaves, plan an apple-picking trip—and get into the season with these four beers (and one cider).
1. SEA SALT ALE, FIRE ISLAND BEER CO.
is a perfect blend of salty and sweet, thanks to the addition of sea salt. Co-founder Bert Fernandez told mental_floss that this unusual beer ingredient was inspired by his grandfather's penchant for adding the mineral to his drink. “We were kind of curious as to why, and one of the theories that we came up with was that in World War II, they would get shipped flat beer over there and if you add salt to beer, it gives it a false sense of carbonation. So we started messing around with that when we were homebrewing back in the late '90s.”
The sea salt gives the beer a nice kick and works as a mild preservative. Best of all, the briny taste works well with Fire Island Beer Co.’s nautical theme. A beer like this is definitely best enjoyed on a boat.
2. HARVEST ALE, VICTORY BREWING COMPANY
It’s rare to find a beer that uses fresh hops, even when the label makes that claim. Brewers find that while fresh hops give a better flavor, that flavor is more difficult to control and can yield some unpredictable outcomes. As a result of this—and more importantly, the small harvest window—breweries are more likely to opt for dried hops that can be used year-round. Any beers that use fresh (a.k.a. "wet") hops are only going to be available during the hop harvest season in early fall. Take advantage of nature's clock and enjoy Victory’s Harvest Ale, which incorporates those fresh hops you’ve been missing out on all summer. The seasonal brew is fruity, with hints of apricot and tropical fruits that complement the light, juicy hops.
3. HARD ROOT BEER, CONEY ISLAND BREWING CO.
For something a little sweeter and appropriately nostalgic, Coney Island Brewing Co. has concocted an alcoholic spin on root beer. Its strong flavors of vanilla, licorice, and birch are meant to conjure up memories of past strolls on the boardwalk and rides on the Cyclone.
“We wanted to create something that’s fun, an exciting dynamic," brewery operations manager Chris Adams told mental_floss. “[It] represents what Coney Island Brewery is and what Coney Island is as a destination.”
4. ROADSMARY'S BABY, TWO ROADS BREWERY
It would be criminal—or at least very difficult—to write of autumn beers without mentioning at least one pumpkin brew. Two Roads' spooky spin on the traditional pumpkin ale borrows its name from Oscar-winning horror classic Rosemary’s Baby. Unlike the 1968 movie, there is nothing occult about this beer, despite it being bewitchingly good. The brew is delightfully pumpkin-y, with notes of vanilla and oak. Thanks to being aged in rum barrels, there’s also a strong finish. For an even stronger beer, consider Roadsmary’s Other Baby.
5. TEXAS HONEY CIDER, AUSTIN EASTCIDERS
Austin Eastciders's honey cider is not seasonal, but the way you can enjoy it definitely changes with the cold weather. When it gets a little chilly, try heating up your drink in a kettle with nutmeg and cinnamon; the result is a soothing mulled cider. For something stronger, try adding a shot of whiskey. “On colder evenings, those will warm you up pretty nicely,” head cidermaker Preston Nickens told mental_floss.
You can check out all of these breweries (and more) at the craft beer event, Brooklyn Pour, on September 26th at the Brooklyn Expo Center.