Autumn is Coming

If you’ve been in a liquor store, beer store, gas station, or bottle store in the past week or so, you’ve probably noticed something on the shelves.  Oktoberfest beers.  Beers labeled Harvest beers.  Pumpkin beers.  And then, after making your purchase, you step outside and remember it’s still August and it’s 157 degrees out with 110% humidity.

It’s confusing.  Beers can’t seem to get their timing right.  Pumpkins don’t really get ripe until October, so you know all those pumpkin beers are using last year’s pumpkins. 

And no one is in the mood to buy a heavier, malty beer, when they know it’s just going to sit in their stomach and make them sweat even more.  Me?  I just picked up a case of Narragansett Summer, because I’m really not ready to let go quite yet (and I love Autumn).

But what’s the story?  Why so soon?

As we all know, Samuel Adams sets the tone for all craft beer.  And if you remember, they released their Summer Ale back in like… March (maybe April).  It must be their bestselling beer. 

So, once that hits the shelves, everyone tries to catch up.  That moves the market up.  Which means, the breweries have to kind of plan ahead with their brewing of the fall beers.  And because, to them, summer starts in March, then Fall must start in August.

And here we are.  Trying to hold on to the last strains of summer, as the beer community is telling us… let it go.  Embrace cold weather.

But, I’m still a sweaty mess.

I’ll stick with my summer ales until September, then.

You?

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Barrel Aging….

This was first going to be a post about Cigar City’s Tocobaga Red Ale, but once I opened it (and learned how to spell the name of the beer), I realized I’d had the beer somewhere else.

No, not actually trying the beer, but the flavor was very familiar to me.  I’d had it before, but I couldn’t place where.  I had to search far and wide in my flavor memory.  And then it came to me.

Samuel Adams Utopia.

If you don’t know what Sam Adams Utopia is, let me explain it to you.  It is a very expensive beer.  It is a very high alcohol beer too.  And it’s made like whiskey.  Or made to drink like whiskey.

Basically, it’s a beer aged in whiskey barrels, and meant for sipping.

Now, without doing too much research (or none at all, so this whole post could be bunk), I wondered what kind of beer Sam Adams used to make this beer.  And I think I found it, a red ale.  Deep caramel malts that age well.  The flavors that are evident in the Tocobaga explode in the Utopia.

Utopia is a very sweet, very sticky beer that burns on the back end.  Very much like a drink you sip.

Tocobaga was subtler (and made by a different brewery), but it would be interesting to compare Sam Adams original beer with the Utopia.

This was the closest I could get.