Here in Sonoma County (as in many parts of the country), the leaves are beginning to change color and the weather is cooling off, indicating it’s harvest time! Pick any road just off the 101, drive for a few minutes, and you’ll likely see all the signs of grapes being picked and prepared for their long journey to the bottle. It really is a beautiful time to be in Northern California.
If you happen to enjoy that other complex, fermented beverage, the signs of Fall aren’t as obvious. I’m talking about Beer! Specifically, the varieties that we only get to enjoy usually once a year – Pumpkin, certain Ciders, and Oktoberfest beers usually show up on our local craft beer shop’s shelves and on tap room boards in brewpubs/breweries, around this time, and that gets me excited.
Recently, my fiance and I were in the city of Sonoma, at a shop where cheese, butter, bread, and beer converge. The Epicurean Connection is one of my favorite places to have anything from a well prepared meal, to a simple butter tasting, both paired with any number of solid craft beers. While on our last trip, the two of us enjoyed glasses of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, Almanac Brewing’s Honey Saison, and a local Rośe, all over conversation about the time of year and it’s rewards.
Keep your eyes peeled for events on this topic coming soon.
Why do I love Fall, and the accompaniment of harvest ales? For starters, I love the spice. Pumpkin ales bring those tastes and smells I’ve always associated with being home for the holidays and family cooking… Away in the kitchen. Brown ales bring a rich, malt character, and mild roasted flavors that puts my mind in front of a warm fire on a cool night. Ciders, well, they are just fun to drink; bright and crisp, and overall refreshing.
Don’t get me wrong, warmer times call for Kolsch to IPA, Pilsner to Red, and I love them all. But when you feel that little, cool bite in the air, it’s the right time for a harvest ale.