Fall is in the air, and all you alcoholics know what that means: fall beer time!
OK, let's get real -- fall is never in the air in South Florida. However, it's fall beer time anyways, damn it, and we're going to enjoy the frothy goodness of crisp pumpkin and pecan just like any Northerner.
The beer selection come October can be pretty overwhelming, so we have taken upon ourselves the noble task of spending hours holed up in Riverside Market Cafe, conducting research. We know, we know... it was tough. But we did it just for you.
After sifting (or sipping, rather) through the staggering collection, we came up with five of our favorite fall brews. If you drink enough of them, you might actually start to feel a little fall breeze.
Punkin Ale, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Delaware
We had to start off the list with a solid pumpkin choice. Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head just might be the Perfect Pumpkin Beer... and there are a lot to choose from. The spices -- cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and organic brown sugar -- are awesome, with an aroma as delicious as the taste. Not too sweet, not too heavy; Dogfish Head got this smooth, malty ale just right. Usually we can only handle one pumpkin brew per sitting, but this is one of the few that you could actually knock back several of.
Conchtoberfest, Florida Beer Co., Florida
In a nod to our home state, Conchtoberfest from Florida Beer Co. out of Melbourne makes the list. Overall, it's a solid German-style Märzen that proves Florida knows what's up even if we're sweating it out in jorts during Oktoberfest time.
Plus: The sea-glass-blue bottle rocks, and it's scarcely available outside the Sunshine State, so it's all ours for the drinking. For the time being, you can get the Conchtoberfest on tap over at the Foxy Brown.
Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, Mississippi
This one is a veteran to the fall beer scene but hasn't lost its novelty. A bartender at Laser Wolf told us it's supposedly the only beer ever made with real pecans, which we confirmed on the 'net.
Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan Ale is a dark reddish-brown in color. The taste is very light hops, giving the flavor over to malt, caramel, and nutty pecan goodness. It's sweet, but not as overpowering as we expected from the name of the beer or the aroma. We think it's a perfect postmeal beer instead of dessert. OK, OK, you can have dessert and the pecan beer.
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Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider, Woodchuck Hard Cider, Vermont
OK, technically this isn't a beer, but it's the first-ever pumpkin-infused cider. And what screams "fall" more than cider, anyways?
Woodchuck brewed real pumpkins in with its classic apple-based recipe. Come to think of it, this drink actually sounds a bit nutritious. And at 6.9 percent ABV, the Pumpkin Reserve is packin' more than your average cider. In fact, Woodchuck had to brew separate batches at 5.5 percent ABV for Pennsylvania and Tennessee to meet regulation restrictions in those states. Don't worry, folks; the version you'll find in Florida outlets is the original stuff.
In addition to its potent alcohol content, it's delicious. But, be warned: This one is sweet. Don't plan on drinking more than one unless you want your teeth to fall out.
Harvest Ale, Southern Tier Brewing Co., New York
When you've reached the point at which you'd rather stop drinking altogether than have another pumpkin beer (we definitely got there during the research period for this article), the Harvest Ale is a welcome relief.
Southern Tier's Harvest Ale is an English-style Extra Special Bitter with a piney aroma and taste. The kick of hops is a nice alternative to the malty, sweet dominance of other fall flavors. We already love the 2X IPA by Southern Tier, and this is another excellent choice from an excellent brewer.
So there you have it -- 'tis definitely the season to get drunk on some great seasonal beers. You can find all of these brews, or conduct your own fall beer research, at Riverside Market Cafe.