It may not feel like Summer Solstice has actually passed in Southern California, but we still reap the benefits of tasty beer made for cool air and fuzzy boots. We might not be seeing too many scarves or coats, but Orange County brewers are so good that they don't need the weather to change to make you enjoy fall beer. Here is a lineup of some excellent beers that are perfect for autumn, and while the list is numbered, they're all top picks.
5. New In Town Brown (Artifex Brewing)
Like their beer, Artifex Brewing is, indeed, new in town. These guys recently opened in San Clemente, and you may have stumbled into them at one of this summer's many beer festivals. If you've yet to check them out, then there is no better time than this fall season. Their New In Town Brown ale is quite the pleasure. New In Town Brown's rich malt backbone sets the stage for its pleasant drinkability. With a modest ABV at 5.3 percent, don't be shy to order more than one.
4. Way Heavy (Pizza Port Brewing Co.)
A valiant take on the traditional Scotch Ale — also known as Wee Heavy — Pizza Port's Way Heavy has charmed enough judges to make this beer one of the brewery's most decorated. The Scotch Ale, seldom brewed but never forgotten, fits the autumn aesthetic effortlessly with its rich toffee notes, and Way Heavy is a fine representation of the style. This medium bodied beer, full of raisins, fig and caramel notes, would pair beautifully with any fall-inspired dessert. If you give this 8.4 percent ABV beer a little time to warm up, you'll be in for a smooth dark chocolate treat. Available on tap in the San Clemente location; just look for the beer with the medals next to its name.
3. Udder Love (Beachwood BBQ & Brewing)
Beachwood is rather gifted with making beer you want to drink at any time of the day. First I talked about Mocha Machine being a great breakfast beer, now Udder Love, a milk stout that could also greet you in the morning with a smile, makes for an ideal fall beer with its slightly roasted and superbly sweet characteristics. Simply put, this beer is like alcoholic chocolate milk. Udder Love is so creamy that it doesn't need to be poured on nitro for it to be its smooth, silky self. Lusciously sweet without a cloying sugary presence, this beer, with an ABV of 5.9 percent, can wash down any pie the holidays throw at you. You can find Udder Love on draft in both Beachwood taprooms or in bottles wherever you typically find your Beachwood beers.
2. Oktoastyfest (Noble Ale Works)
Oktoberfest, or Märzen-style, beer is the epitome of fall-time beer. Back in the day, brewers would make a strong beer in the spring (hence the name Märzen) and lager it in caves all summer. By the time it was ready to drink, the summer would be over and brewing could resume again (without modern refrigeration, that is). Noble manages to add a surprising spin on the traditional beer by actually brewing it as an ale and incorporating quite a bit of toasted malt. This toastiness–it literally tastes like a piece of toast–elevates the beer to another level of Oktoberfest goodness. And although October may be coming to a close, there will be plenty of Oktoastyfest to go around in the taproom. Prost!
1. Lagerithm (Bottle Logic Brewing)
Less than a year ago, we worried if Bottle Logic would open according to schedule due to the government shutdown. Now, they have become a major staple in the OC beer community and they've even won an award at the internationally acclaimed Great American Beer Festival with a beer that just happens to pair with (actual) fall weather: Lagerithm. You won't find as many dark lagers in Orange County as you would IPAs but lager lovers can stroll through Bottle Logic knowing they'll have a beer waiting for them. This dark lager may sound intimidating because of the word "dark" and its math reference and all but it's one of Bottle Logic's most approachable beers. An excellent representation of the style, Lagerithm has a beautiful caramelized maltiness that gets better with each sip.
Hopefully, the weather will cool down and we'll finally see some damp pavement and fallen, not dried up, leaves. In the mean time, enjoy the sweeter, maltier beers of the season.