Our favorite fall beers from local breweries this season

Oct 19, 2018 at 2:26 pm
Against the Grain

This quarter, we welcome the newest kid on the block. False Idol Independent Brewers, which brings to 20 the number of local breweries spread across Kentuckiana. While there are overlaps in interest from brewer to brewer, it’s remarkable how each place is unique and identifiable. From mild and breezy neighborhood bars to beer geek heaven establishments, we have you covered. Also, make sure to check out our big brewery list to learn more about the Louisville beer scene.  

3rd Turn Brewing Peanut Butter and Jealous As an adjunct, peanut butter affords little room for error. If you add too much, your drink becomes a dessert, a pastry stout that, to my palate, is more than a little cloying. But 3rd Turn avoided this pitfall. The Peanut Butter and Jealous leans into the creamy, robust flavors of peanut butter, without coming off as overly sweet. At 9.8 percent ABV, this is certainly one to savor, with a pitch black body and a delicate, light tan foam cap. You can smell peanut butter at the nose, but again, this comes off as more hearty and hale, and less of a stunt.

Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse Mac Fanny Baw  The gleefully abrasive tones of Minor Threat blared as I walked into AtG, making for a good start to a rainy day pint. That mood was met with the Mac Fannybrain, a smoked-and-salted barrel-aged rauchbier. This is not a light drink, with an 8 percent ABV, but it only has an IBU of 28, making for a dangerously-drinkable combo. The smoke flavor is strong, like Pepperidge Farm foods — distinct and undeniable. You curl up to a fire pit with this one on a cool night, preferably with some smoked food, ribs or veggies to warm you up. 

Akasha Brewing Co. 12 Foot Fall Lager A märzen style beer, the 12 Foot Fall Lager is a thing to behold. You’re greeted with a burnt sienna body, gently capped by a foamy, cream head. At 5.6 percent ABV this is delightfully sessionable, a crisp beer with a nice pop on the back end. There is a lightness that recalls a domestic, although as reimagined as an equally-approachable craft beverage. This is imminently elegant, but without ever coming off as anything other than blue-collar. 

Apocalypse Brew Works Bunston Belgian Quad While Belgian-style brews pop up from time to time in Kentuckiana, they still represent a relatively untapped market. Fortunately, Apocalypse has stepped up with the Bunston Belgian Quad, which is a rich and malty take not dissimilar to their Ocktoberfest, but certainly more complex. The body is a deep shade of golden brown, featuring a light foam head, with a strong malted sweetness at the nose. There is a slightly wry chill to this, a mixture of sweet and malty, but with a hint of almost burnt notes at the periphery. This is exceptional, but at 8 percent ABV, it’s one that will certainly sneak up on you. 

Bluegrass Brewing Co. Patch Adam’s Pumpkin Spiced Ale One of a few pumpkin beers on the list, the BBC has crafted a traditional take on the variety. Featuring a low 5.7 percent ABV and an 8.7 IBU, this is an easily-drinkable beer, assuming you enjoy the pumpkin-spiced adjuncts. There are hearty pumpkin notes here, less like a Schlafly that tastes a if a chemical was added and more like actual pumpkins were in the boil. This is easy going down, with a slight tang on the back end that adds an interesting pop. 

Cumberland Brews Red For the last year or so, Cumberland has maintained a rather spartan tap list, with less and less experimental brews coming through. Fortunately, the focus on its standard tap rotation has yielded sublime results on their mainstays, including the Red. The Red features a malty nose and burnt amber body, capped by a fine foam mist. The aroma is an accurate description of what you find inside, a mosaic of malted and slightly spiced flavors that yields a creamy and comforting brew perfect for cool autumn evenings. 

Donum Dei Brewery 812 Noveau Harvest IPA By and large, IPAs are not my go-to drink in the fall, although I’m always up to try something fresh. The dry-hopped 812 Noveau Harvest IPA is just that — a juicy, heavy drink that doesn’t dance around its bittering agents. Clocking in at 7 percent ABV and a heady 63 IBU, it’s balanced delicately against a comparably light body and subtle floral notes. This is a fantastic alternative to the Ocktoberfests and Pumpkin ales that dominate the market this time of year. 

Falls City Beer Ottofest Oktoberfest While Falls City continues to dazzle with its output that balances interesting with familiar varieties, its Ocktoberfest variant is too good to overlook. The embodiment of autumnal, the Ottofest features a malt-heavy body and nose, comparable to the Great Lakes Ocktoberfest. The body has a burnt gold hue and soft foam cap, which makes for a handsome poor. There is a sweetness that is made more inviting by the juicy, upfront taste, and hoppy, pop finish. 

False Idol Independent Brewers Manna Kellerbier Seldom would I pick a lawnmower beer at this time of year, but the Manna Kellerbier is somehow remarkably ideal for the newly-cool weather. This is easy, affordable and the best kolsch or pils style beer I’ve had in some time. At $4, the price point is an attempt to alleviate some of the gatekeeper qualities of the craft brewing community. What makes this stand out so much though, is that it is exceptionally well made. A German, unfiltered pilsner, this is super crisp with a light gold body. 

Flat 12 Bierworks Slam Dunkel Another off-color beer, but one suited for the season, is the Slam Dunkel, a dunkel-style beer with Belgian attributes. Unlike other Belgians however, the Slam Dunkel features a low 4.6 percent ABV and a traditionally low 24 IBU, making it a wonderful session beer to wile away those cool fall evenings. The Slam Dunkel is a good couch beer, for when you are snuggled up under a blanket — a good pairing with a solid chili.

Floyd County Brewery Robin of Loxley Floyd County was on fire this season, with a host of barrel-aged staples and newcomers, from a red to a porter, all aged in some kind of whiskey barrel. Made with Huber’s apples, Robin of Loxley, an apple ale, is perhaps the perfect seasonal alternative — like a sweet, hot cider. You can practically hear the crunch of leaves falling from the trees as you drink this. Surprisingly, this isn’t as overly rich as you’d expect, with a 6.7 percent ABV, a low IBU of 21 and a light blonde body. 

Goodwood Brewing Co. Big Fella Stout season is nigh, and the Big Fella is one of the best that you’ll find now or for the rest of the season. A barrel-aged American stout hitting an impressive 9.95 percent ABV, the Big Fella lives up to its name with a pitch-black body and deep-tan foam cap. Another barrel-aged brew, the nose features strong hints of booze, with heavy chocolate and bourbon notes. If anything this is perhaps too drinkable and smooth for the ABV so be careful on your approach. 

Gravely Brewing Co. Oompah Oktoberfest If you peruse the menu, you will notice a certain hop-forward je ne sais quoi to Gravely’s tap list, with mostly IPA or pale ale options that tend to feature no-frills arrangements on classic staples, each done incredibly well. While not quite as hoppy as expected, the Oompah Ocktoberfest still packed a crispy punch, with a light colored body like a domestic, and the flavor palate of a brut champagne. To clarify, this is all beer, with a dry, but sweet character to the flavor that favors a relaxed engagement — slow, but long sips that reward you with their complexity. 

Great Flood Brewing Co. Ocktoberfest Great Flood’s Ocktoberfest almost demands that you gather around a campfire, one hand in your pocket, fidgety your other over the cold brew. This is the stuff of dreams, a shareable quaff perfect to sip and tell stories. At 5.4 percent ABV this is sessionable and relaxing, but never overwhelming. A beautiful poor, the Ocktoberfest has a deep mahogany body, soft foam head and malty rich nose. This is crisp and sublime, with an all-too-mellow flavor hinting at burnt caramel notes, albeit very subtlety so. 

Holsopple Brewing Ocktoberfest Holsopple’s take on an Ocktoberfest is another remarkably-comfortable beer with a low, 5.4 percent ABV. A gingerbread-colored body with a white foam cap greets you, as you take in the lightly-sweet malted nose. This is as fresh as it is refreshing, a juicy and savory treat that is hearty and hale. Various malts and hops work in harmony to elevate this beyond the average Ocktoberfest. 

Mile Wide Beer Co. Leroy Brown Ale For as common as they are, brown ales tend to be an overlooked variety that check a lot of boxes for accessibility. The Leroy Brown Ale is an optimal example, which presents a deep-walnut body, a frothy, tan head and a malty-rich nose. At 5.5 percent ABV, this is an easily sessionable, thick with a robustness akin to a porter, although less biting and thick. A nice fall warmer, this is a fantastic porch beer, to kick back with good company. 

Monnik Beer Co. New Year Old Ale As you read this, consider making plans to hit up Monnik for the New Year Old Ale, a brew so superlative that it is almost beyond description — and it may be gone too soon. Built on an old ale base and aged in bourbon barrels, this clocks in at an 11.5 percent ABV. The NYOA sports a deep walnut body and very-little-to-no head. This has a very comforting taste like a coffee and pancake combo. Don’t let that description run you off, this is the liquid equivalent of a warm embrace, a maple head that is never cloying, cut by a robust hoppiness that never seems overly bitter. 

New Albanian Brewing Co. Strassenbräu At 6 percent ABV and a relatively low IBU of 32, this is the kind of brew you want in your hand the first time you can see your breath in the cold. The body of the beer is a burnt auburn and capped with a soft foam head that’s not quite tan in color. There are malted notes with a slight hop taste, bitter on the front, juicy on the back end. Another excellent porch beer, you can practically taste that chill autumn air. 

Old Louisville Brewing Co. Imperial Pumpkin Milk Stout The idea of a pumpkin stout seems like it shouldn’t work, given the bitterness of a stout and sweetness of pumpkin. The inclusion of milk blends the two together seamlessly for a heady brew with an 8 percent ABV and a 45 IBU. There is a pitch black body that looks internally still, with virtually no head, and a strongly-spiced nose. You definitely pick up hints of nutmeg and cinnamon along with the pumpkin, which adds a nice, rich punch to the taste. The lactic aspect adds a welcome creaminess, with the pumpkin and stout flavor beds serving as counter to each other. As such, there is a push-and-pull in the taste that is an absolute delight, at once smooth, festive and with the slightest bitter edge. 

Red Foot Brewing Co. Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale By far the heaviest local pumpkin ale that you’re likely to get your hands on this season, the Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale is quickly becoming a fall classic. The body sediment is heavy and hickory colored, capped with a nice foam lattice. The pumpkin flavors are actually quite light. Red Foot’s trick is that it somehow induces a kind of creaminess to the ale, but without the apparent presence of lactose. Clocking in at 9 percent ABV with an IBU of 22, definitely tread lightly here, as the richness will invite you back for more.