A Little Taste Of AutumnSeptember welcomes Fall beers
September 6, 2017
By Jeff Gredlein | The Beer Snob
We’ve made it to September. And sure just last week I was complaining about “season creep,” but this month I generally think of as the turning point. While the fall equinox may still weeks away, what does that day really mean in the south? Late September could be scorching summer hot or chilly breezy fall. Yet, that possible mix of variable weather is a welcome change from constant swelter.
As fall begins to arrive, my thoughts turn to slightly darker, more malty beers. Breweries begin to release beers that fit the new season. Years ago, one of the first I encountered at this time of year was Redhook Autumn Ale. Although the ‘harvest’ moniker is more often saved for fresh hop beers these days, Southern Tier’s Harvest Ale, a hoppy ESB, is one of the best.
Although autumn ale or harvest or fall beer is not exactly a recognized style, a number of brewers make earthy, fuller, more interesting beers to fit into the fall season. This year, Sierra Nevada has two fall seasonal releases. Their new offering is Flipside, a red IPA. Their returning fall champion is Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale.
Interestingly, as I walked into a local restaurant, it was Sierra’s one off ‘Imperial Red IPA’ that first caught my eye. I tried it, and while enjoyable, it’s high gravity and only decent qualities led me to switch my selection. I next spied Tumbler; a perfect change.
On their website, Sierra Nevada describes Tumbler like this: “Roasted, rich and perfect for an autumn afternoon. As the leaves on the Valley Oaks begin to tumble and fall, we reach for a beer with depth. Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale is our take on the classic brown ale, featuring roasted malt with full, complex toasted aromas and nutty flavor with the slightest hint of smoke. Sit back with a glass and watch as autumn’s yearly dance unfolds.”
Poured into a pint glass, Tumbler looks like a classic, if not slightly brighter, brown ale. A moderate head of creamy off white foam sits atop the beer for most of the glass. Mild to moderate bubbles are present in the glass. Tumbler distances itself from the previous Sierra Nevada brown ale from the start in nose and on the tongue. The preceding beer was more of a hoppy brown ale, definitely an American version of the style. However, Tumbler is not a sweet brown ale, something that has become increasingly hard to find.
The sweeter brown ales follow the Southern English style of brown ale. This selection from Sierra Nevada is closer to the Northern English style, a beer that can be somewhat hoppy, but is definitely drier and more crisp, displaying a nutty character. Add to that the touch of smoke in this beer, and this is great fall ale.
Tumbler exhibits a hint of toffee but a nice long dose or roasted malt, with a nutty (pecan?) and earthy (oak?) quality that is very English in nature. And, while the beer is not a sweet affair, with just a dab of bittersweet chocolate in the mix, for Sierra Nevada’s Standards, it’s not overly hopped either. At 5.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), this is a perfect beer for a backyard cookout or sitting on the patio on a gently cool evening, watching the leaves fall all around. Enjoy the brews
Gene’s Haufbrau has at more than 200 beers in bottles or on tap. While they don’t have every beer the Beer Snob writes about, they probably have most. E-mail the Beer Snob at firstname.lastname@example.org.