I'd like to say I love each season equally. They all have their own reasons for being important: the desolation and chill of winter, the rebirth and awakening of spring, the heat and freedom of summer. However, nothing hits me quite like the beginning of fall. The temperature in September dips (hardly in NYC), the leaves fall off the trees and with the change we all become more contemplative about life in general. Oh! AND there's the beer! Finally, the beer darkens, becomes less refreshing and more hearty. The malts get roastier, the spices come out of the woodwork (or spice cabinet) and every once in awhile you get something that tastes of pumpkin pie and home.
They've realized this over at the Stag's Head and on the official Autumnal Equinox of 2010 (when the hours of the day/night are equal) they rolled out the best fall, Oktoberfest and pumpkin brews they can get their hands on. Here's what one Beer Friend had:
Left Hand Oktoberfest - what a great Oktoberfest. The fall spices are not held back at all with this one. Nice smooth malts, slightly bittered hops and great fall spices. So good you could drink it all night. But we have more fall to drink...
Peak Organic Fall Summit Ale - I'll go with the Stag's Head bartender on this one: perfect mix between a pale and a brown. Bitter and drinkable like a hoppy pale with the smooth malt of lighter brown. Perfect transition into fall beer.
Just wanted to throw in another comment at the end here: The hops were really impressive in the Summit. Balanced, yet they stood out pretty well with a nice herbal/citrus bite.
Victory "Festbier" Amber - Mostly malty with little hop bitterness. Smooth in the malt department bit at somepoints, especially with the lack of hop bitterness, I was looking for a bigger taste. It goes in the same vein of other Victory brews, mellow and to the style like the pilsner (not the prima pils) but in this case I wanted something bigger. However, if your an amber-head like Paul then this brew is for you.
Kelso Octoberfest - much more of a roasted malt flavor to compensate for a bit less in the spice department. The brew actually borders on burnt at some point. It marks a nice traditional approach to an Oktoberfest, apart from the brews that spice the hell out of a maltier ale and brand it Oktober (which I love). Easily drinkable, Brooklyn homage to Oktoberfest.
As you may have noted there weren't any pumpkin beverages consumed. I tried a taste of one of the pumpkin brews they had on, and it strongly resembled a delicious pumpkin pie. I just couldn't drink a whole pint of it. Maybe if the other Beer Friends head out during this fall they can give you a better description of the finer pumpkin brews on draught in the city.
Happy Fall from the Beer Friends! We wish you a hearty, spicy, pumpkin-y changing of the seasons!