As I recently stepped out of the bar to the freezing cold weather of 2 a.m. Milwaukee, I started to realize that it is almost Thanksgiving. The holidays bring fun times, good food, bloated stomachs and many wonderful things like funny tasting beer. Every year more and more breweries around the country provide us with somewhat spicy beer for our holiday palates to enjoy.
The popular kid in this class is Oktoberfest-style beers. They usually come with a nice amber tone and combine flavor like apple, spices and caramel with a large helping of malt. Just about every major brewery under the sun begins releasing their Oktoberfest around the middle of September and you can still find it on the shelves in late November, if not year around. Even though that bar that starts with C and ends in affrey’s has ended its sale of Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, it should be considered one of the best of the light bodied Oktoberfest variations around. For a darker and heavier twist with a little bit more spice, try the Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. It will probably require a trip to the better-stocked beer retailers but will be well worth it.
Lately though, some companies have decided to differentiate themselves with a staple on the Thanksgiving Day table. Companies like Blue Moon Brewery and Lakefront Brewery, just up the road from campus, have been infusing beer with an obscene amount of pumpkin flavor. Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale is heavily flavored with cinnamon and pumpkin flavors that represent everything your grandmother’s pumpkin pie does. The spice of the beer comes first and sticks with the taste all the way through the pumpkin flavoring until it ends with nice sweet undertones.
Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager is quite different however. They have taken pumpkin beer to a whole other level by distilling loads and loads of pumpkin into the beer. The only way to imagine this beer is to envision the mixing of a liquefied pumpkin pie with your basic American lager. The lager is not bringing much besides alcohol, and the pumpkin pie is coming in fists a-flying.
The only other offering I have is Leinenkugel’s Apple Spice, which just like its name says is a nice combination of apple aromas with a solid bite throughout. I realize that many of these beers sound like an unnecessary diversion from your normal daily routine, but I would highly recommend putting these beers in your refrigerator. Trust me, once you have had them you will proudly put the bottle caps in your collection on the ceiling!