By Dave Zucker and Sabrina Sucato
Fall is that magical time of year when people break out their flannels, the leaves change color, and beer takes a turn toward deeply fruited and spicy brews. Seasonals are nothing new to the craft beer world, but every year there is a challenge to come up with something new or improve upon last year’s brew. This year, some of the Hudson Valley’s finest brewing operations have outdone themselves to create a bevy of beers you’ll be happy to savor all through sweater weather.
Middletown and New Paltz
ABV: 5.7 percent
Special for the autumn season, Clemson’s pumpkin-themed ale is everything wonderful about fall in the Hudson Valley in a single glass. Its golden amber color is a perfect match for the changing leaves in the region, while its spice-filled taste brings to mind the scents of seasonal baking. It’s available on tap only, so head to the brewery’s Middletown or New Paltz locations to try it out for yourself.
Need more convincing? The beer is brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove, and pumpkin, so it’s kind of, sort of like a pumpkin spice latte…but maybe even better.
ABV: 6 percent
Suarez Family Brewery’s bottled country beer is Flemish red-inspired, which means it’s perfect for savoring slowly. It draws its complex flavor profile from a lengthy aging process in port and wine barrels. As far as taste goes, it’s all about fall flavors like toasted orange peel, dried cranberry, and crème brûlée, along with raspberry, sweet vermouth, amarone wine, golden syrup, and black fig. It’s the type of beer you want to sip while cozied up in front of a crackling fire, maybe with a slice of flourless chocolate cake on the side.
ABV: 5.4 percent
Mill House’s Cucumber Blessings and Velvet Panda might be perennial favorites, but Oktoberfest is all you’ll want to drink this autumn. The Märzen lager is highly drinkable, with a malty sweetness that screams fall in the Hudson Valley. It’s available on draft or in cans, because you’re probably going to want to grab a pack to go after sampling it at the restaurant.
ABV: 5.8 percent
In case you haven’t tried out one of Tin Barn’s signature ales and IPAs yet, make Porch Rocker your excuse to do so. Like the name suggests, the citrusy ale is made for drinking in the crisp autumn air. It’s an easy weekend beer that’s hopped with Cascade and Citra for a finish that’s pleasantly crisp and clean. Try it out while lounging outside near one of the brewery’s roaring fire pits.
ABV: 5.8 percent
Black Dirt newcomer The Drowned Lands rounds up all the best flavors of fall and pours them into a tall glass for this stunner of a brew. The brewery takes a slow food-style approach to this beer, with roasted pumpkin and house-ground pie spices influencing the flavor. All in all, the brew is as close to a slice of fresh pumpkin pie as a beer can get. Find it on draft at the brewery while it lasts.
ABV: 7 percent
A heavy-hitting stout from Queen City’s newest brewery, Room for Milk is the result of a special collaboration with The Poughkeepsie Grind down the street. The brew is ultra-smooth and creamy, with notes of dark chocolate and roasted coffee, the latter which comes straight from the Grind. It’s available on draft only, so get to booking a table to sample this beauty alongside something scrumptious from Zeus’s Italian-inspired menu.
ABV: 5 percent
Love a good farmhouse ale? Hudson Valley Brewery sours it up with 100-percent barley and raw wheat that gets fermented in foudres with wild yeast and souring bacteria. This particular brew aged for a year in oak wine barrels and was bottle conditioned for nine months. The result is a zippy bottle that’s wonderful all on its own, preferably with a little fall foliage happening in the background.