Nothing says fall to me more than a case stack of Bell’s Best Brown Ale (5.8 percent ABV) and Founders Breakfast Stout (imperial coffee stout, 8.3 percent ABV, IBUs 60), both of which can now be found in Michiana. I love fall with Oktoberfest, the changing leaves, soccer and hockey (OK, I do also watch a little college football if it doesn’t interfere with my other two sports) and campfires on cool evenings.
- RELATED: Founders Brewing Co. says goodbye to that baby face, Aug. 27
Due to the wonders of modern technology beyond my ability to understand, I am writing this on my back deck, watching the leaves blow in the wind and enjoying a can of Best Brown. If the wind dies down a bit, then yes, I hope to share a campfire in our backyard with some friends this evening, as well.
I heard someone say recently that if there was a beer equivalent of comfort food, Bell’s Best Brown would be it and I agree. It’s not overpowering, with nice flavors of chocolate, roasted nuts and a nice balance of malty sweetness.
As much as I love pale ales and IPAs, now is the time for some richer, fuller-bodied beers and I’m loving what I’m seeing on the shelves at local bottle shops. The list is way too long to include everything, but here are some of my picks:
- Oskar Blues Ten Fidy: Russian Imperial Stout, 10.5 percent ABV. This was my first of this style from a can and remains to be one of the few Russian Imperial Stouts I’ve found in a can. It isn’t cheap, but is one of my favorites. Lots of complex flavors with the alcohol fairly well hidden in the flavor, but sure to warm you up around a campfire.
- Arcadia Ales Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter: Baltic Porter, 12 percent ABV, IBUs 50. I have not had this year’s batch yet, but have enjoyed previous releases of this beer. They used to wax the caps, but have gone to using red foil starting last year. It is definitely a sipper with notes of dark fruit, roasted malt, chocolate and of course, bourbon.
- Thirsty Dog Barrel Aged Siberian Night: Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, 10.9 percent ABV, IBUs 58.
- Thirsty Dog Siberian Night: Imperial stout, 9.7 percent ABV, IBUs 58. This is the non barrel-aged version and it is actually available year round.
- Upland Teddy Bear Kisses: Russian Imperial Stout, 10 percent ABV, IBUs 80. This is an Indiana beer and despite the label that I don’t quite understand, it is a tasty beer. It has a fair amount of bitter chocolate (it is aged on cacao nibs), roasted malts and with a higher IBU than most imperial stouts, it also has more hop presence in the flavor.
- Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist: Imperial Stout, 11.8 percent ABV. Another barrel-aged beer, this one is aged in whiskey barrels. Before this beer was available in Indiana, I would search for other people to bring this back from other states. It is brewed using cacao nibs and each year, a different dark coffee roast is used. Big Bad Baptist pours a very thick black and it is all about the chocolate and coffee.
- Three Floyds Moloko: Milk stout, 8 percent ABV, IBUs 30. Three Floyds uses oats and milk sugar to give a fuller body and creamier mouth feel. Notes of silky chocolate, vanilla and coffee.
- Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break: Imperial Stout, 11.5 percent ABV. I enjoyed a bottle of this with a friend while watching Premiere League soccer recently. If there is a breakfast beer other than Founders, this is it. Milk chocolate, toffee, coffee, fudge, vanilla — this stout pretty much has it all.
- Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel: Imperial coffee oatmeal stout, 10.9 percent ABV. This might be the most expensive pick on my list, but if you are a coffee beer fan, this is one of my absolute favorites. It is becoming a bit easier to find this, but is still somewhat rare. Originally available in 22 oz. bottles, it now comes in 12 oz. bottles. If you are a coffee fan, you might be familiar with type of coffee used in this beer and the non-traditional way it is gathered.
- Mikkeller Rauch Geek Breakfast: Coffee smoked oatmeal stout, 7.5 percent ABV. This is a smoked version of Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (not Beer Geek Brunch Weasel). This is the first time I’ve seen this in Michiana and I have yet to taste it, that’s why this one is on my list.
Many of these are seasonal, but because of quantity and/or price, most of them will be on the shelves for a while. There are plenty of worthy beers that did not make my list, but only because there is only so much space to write.
If you have a favorite fall beer or imperial stout, let us all know about it in the comments section.