Fall sometimes gets overlooked as a beer drinking season. In the summer, a beer goes naturally with patio socializing and in the winter, shut in from the cold, beer provides solace. But who's to say beer isn't just as important when the leaves are changing and the temperature is starting to drop?
Here are my picks for the top Toronto beers this fall (and a suggestion of when to drink them).
Vienna Looping Amber Pils from Junction Craft Brewery, 5.2%
Another under-the-radar beer from Junction Craft, this amber-coloured Vienna Lager is fairly subtle with a crisp finish and just some lingering sweetness. A great autumn alternative to your summer lagers.
Drink one: In the sun after you finish raking leaves.
Find it: Available at Junction Craft's on-site retail store in 500ml bottles for $3.85 and in growlers for $15 (plus a $10 refundable deposit).
Six Boroughs Bourbon Barrel-Aged Rye Porter by Amsterdam Brewery, 10%
Brewed by Amsterdam Brewmaster Iain MacOustra as the official beer of Toronto Beer Week, just 2,200 limited edition bottles of this beer were released in the GTA. Aged nine months in Four Roses Bourbon barrels, this pitch-black porter has all kinds of coffee, caramel, and chocolate aromas and a spicy, rye finish.
Drink one: On the first fall day you feel that winter is truly coming, or on a day you saw too many "winter is coming" meme jokes on Facebook.
Find it: Available in 500mL bottles in the LCBO for a limited time for $7.95.
Dry-Hopped Tripel by Cameron's Brewing Co., 7.5%
Something of a twist on the Belgian Tripel, this interesting beer has a vaguely bubble-gummy, banana aroma and flavours somewhat reminiscent of white wine and citrus. A unique take on a tripel.
Drink one: With a nice Sunday dinner to show your snobby friends that beer can be just as interesting as wine when paired with the right meal.
Find it: Wherever you can. While this beer popped up at a few Toronto Beer Week events, full details of its release have not yet been made available.
Great Lakes Brewery's Pumpkin Ale, 5.5%
While I'm usually no fan of pumpkin beer, GLB's Pumpkin Ale has become something of an example of how the style can be done subtly. There are hints of allspice and cinnamon in the aroma and flavour, but the lasting impression is more bright, fruit flavours than cloying vanilla sweetness.
Drink one: When your next door neighbour comes over to borrow something from your garage but ends up staying really long and telling you his kid has been caught with drugs and that his wife is leaving. This beer will give you something to use to change the subject.
Find it: Available at the LCBO and the Great Lakes retail store. $4.95 for a 650 mL bottle
The Rabbit of Caerbonnog by Indie Alehouse and Bar Hop, 5%
A little-known secret about seasonal beer is that you can actually drink whatever the hell you want regardless of what the weather is like. So this cloudy white IPA with tropical fruit, citrus, and spicy wheat aromas and flavours will suit you just fine this Autumn.
Drink one: After a long soul-searching walk in the woods where you realize you're not at all doing what you want with your life, but then you don't make any changes.
Find it: On tap at Indie Alehouse, Bar Hop, and a handful of other Toronto bars.
Raspberry Uber Berliner Weisse by Nickel Brook Brewery, 5.3%
If you've had Uber Berliner Weisse, you're probably already in your car on your way to Burlington to pick up this version made with raspberries. Blood red, tart, and fruity,this one will have broad appeal from beer fans and newbies alike.
Drink one: After a bitter sweet day picking fruit where you took home a nice haul, but you're pretty sure you lost your good scarf.
Find it: In very limited supply on tap, in growlers, and in 750ml bottles for $8.95 at Nickel Brook's retail store at $7.95 for a 750ml bottle.
Brett Farmhouse Saison by Burdock, 6%
One among many pleasant surprises you'll find at the newly-opened Burdock Brewery, this Farmhouse Saison brewed with brettanomyces is a delightful combination of fruity, pineapple sweetness and barnyard funkiness.
Drink one: After a late season bike ride to Burdock where you sit on the patio, sample everything else they have on tap, then insist on getting have some to take home.
Find it: In 500ml at Burdock's bottle shop for $7.00
Imposter Syndrome Hoppy Farmhouse Ale by Habits Gastropub / Folly Brewpub, 6.8%
The gastropub soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-Habits will shortly officially become Folly Brewpub, and regardless of what name is on the door, brewers Christina Coady and Chris Conway are making an always great line-up of saisons, farmhouse ales, and sours. This aromatic, grassy, citrusy, funky hopped saison is a great introduction to their lineup.
Drink one: After one of those weird transit rides where it's just you and one other person and you forgot your ear buds so you're bored and you just keep staring at them and getting caught.
Find it: Available on tap at Habits, this will hopefully be among the bottles available when Folly Brewpub launches with a retail store in October.
Grandstand Hoppy Wheat by Left Field Brewery, 5.5%
Probably a style more traditionally suited to warmer days, this beer's an excellent way to hang on to summer just a little longer. Aromatic hops impart bright citrus notes and a 50% wheat / malt bill keeps this juicy, fruity glass of sunshine refreshing.
Drink one: After an exhausting chase catching up to and climbing aboard the Toronto Blue Jays bandwagon.
Find it: Still on tap at a few Toronto bars, but fleeting, like the sweet, dusky sunset of summer. Or whatever.
Oaktoberfest by Black Oak Brewery, 4.7%
Back in the day, there were certain times of year when brewing was forbidden in Germany. As a result, brewers made beer in March that could last through summer to the end of season. This style was thus called a Märzen and was traditionally polished off at Oktoberfest. It wouldn't be fall without a nod to the malty, biscuity, toffee-y Märzen.
Drink one: At home, watching football, being thankful you didn't get duped into attending any silly, loud, lederhosen-bedecked Oktoberfest parties.
Find it: On tap in Toronto bars and in 650mL bottles at Black Oak's retail store for $6.95.
What did I miss? Add your favourite fall beers in the comments.
Photo by Matt Forsythe
by Ben Johnson via blogTO