It’s finally autumn. Summer has given up on its death throws, stopping the random warm days and letting the leaves go crisp, dry and burning red. From here on in it’s huddling by the fire with friends in wood-panelled pubs, and breathing in over sticky stews and hot soups.
Just like food, beer should be drunk seasonally. A session on imperial stouts in summer is a recipe for disaster, while an IPA on Christmas morning might be more than your stomach can handle. But more than that, the ingredients used and flavours created all match the seasons. Pumkins are tastiest in autumn, so pumpkin beers are too – and nothing goes better with a rich, sticky stew than a roasty, toasty stout.
Northern Monk Patrons Project 5.03
We get that session porters aren't exactly going to set the world alight, but this one should because we can't remember the last one to excite us this much. Made in collaboration with New England's Bissell Brothers, who are famous for their IPAs but also make sensational session beers, it's a full bodied roasty porter given a long boil to add some caramel flavours and just a touch of lactose and vanilla to bring out some sweetness. It's the perfect pub pint for Autumn and belies its
To Øl Beastly Biscuit
Another beer that has been boiled for longer to caramelise the sugar, this biscuity American barley wine also has plenty of hops to add a rich bitter depth to it. It's a fireside sipper – loaded with hints of millionaire shortbread but also a clean bitter finish.
Paulaner munich Dunkel
Is there anything more comforting than the smell of warm toast? Beer is sometimes called liquid bread, and that’s exactly what this beer is. You get that lovely biscuit sweetness and crisp hop finish that all good German lagers have, but also a layer of burnt toast and raisins that smells like an afternoon by the fire as a child.
You couldn’t make an autumn list without including a Belgian dubbel, and we believe that the best one comes from this abbey just a short drive from Gent. Still made under the supervision of the Benedictine monks who founded the brewery, it’s a dark brown beer with lots of hazy and even more raisin and banana notes before a sweet brandy like finish. Enjoy with bread pudding or a sticky beef stew.
Schneideweiss Unser Aventinus
It’s not the most famous of the Scheideweiss varieties, perhaps because of its huge 8.2% abv, but anyone who lets that get in the way is a fool. This beer, particularly served decadently in a port glass with some mature cheese, is one of our favourite beers ever. Notes of plum, banana, raisins and clove leap out of its deep red body, and its smooth wheaty sweetness hides the alcohol completely save for a warming sensation in your belly.
Kernel Export Stout
Everyone raves about Evan’s IPAs but we think his best beer is this. It’s still got that in-your-face hoppiness, but it’s balanced with a dark liquorice and coffee aroma and smoothed out by those flavours on the palate. It’s truly sensational with oysters, beef and dark stews, or just on its own in an armchair by the fire.
Tiny Rebel Cwtch
With it’s big passion fruit and mango aroma this red ale may seem an unlikely entry into autumn beers, but the joy of Tiny Rebel cwtch for me is that while it smells of summer, it tastes like winter with its dry earthiness and hint of sweet fruits that seem more like peaches than anything exotic. And given that this beer won Champion Beer of Britain, there’s no denying it’s tasting better than ever.
Lost and Grounded No Rest for Dancers
While all the hype around Lost and Grounded has been for their lagers, this delicious hybrid of a Belgian dubbel and an American red ale is one of our favourites. Combining some sweet raisiny malts, banana-like yeast and floral American hops it's a rich and satisfying beer that's good all year round, but especially good from a snifter with some good cheese after a roast.
Wild Beer Jambo!
One of our beers of the year so far, this is a superb imperial stout brewed with locally foraged raspberries and Valentina cacao nibs – sweet, decadent and packed full of
roasty flavour with the slightly tart edge from the raspberries keeping the sweetness perfectly balanced.