Hops & The City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr
There’s something about summer that’s so hard to say goodbye to. Long days, refreshing beer, ice cream, beer/ice cream treats, grilling…actually I just like the food that goes along with summer. But on a blazing hot September day, I put my summer beer pants away to test some fall beers.
I may have invented some errands to do on McKnight Road so I could stop by Hal’s. I picked up Church Brew Works Oktoberfest, Rivertowne Brewing Headless Wylie, Penn Brewery Pumpkin Roll Ale, and Full Pint Brewing Company Night of the Living Stout.
Church Brew Works Oktoberfest
I’m digging that this orange-y/honey colored brew is a perfectly middle of the road beer and a true your uncle’s beer of the bunch. Nothing is overpowering, even the slight yeasty smell that usually isn’t my favorite. The semi-sweet caramel taste is balanced nicely by a hint of bitterness. You could sit around a campfire with a stash of these and keep going all night.
Someone remind me to ask my uncle to try these beers I’m labeling as “Your Uncle’s Beer.” We need to get a true yinzer impression. And that way you know that if it’s good enough for Gav, it’s good enough for you.
This is a great start to the lineup of pumpkinsplosion that was about to ensue with…
Rivertowne Headless Wylie
Another honey-colored beer. It’s sweet, too. I can smell the sweetness that gets more intense as it warms up. I’m really intrigued by the differences you can detect when something warms up; out of the bottle, I smelled a lot of ginger, then it mellowed and I was getting more of a vanilla cookie.
I think I would like a little more pumpkin and a little less Weasley Family Reunion, but just like the smell, the taste changes as it warms, too. There’s a little cinnamon action now! And the vanilla cookie that I didn’t taste at all when it was cold is back.
I wouldn’t guess for the life of me that this is 8%. I also don’t think I could drink a six pack of this, but I’d love to pair a pint of this with dessert. Or bake with it. Hey Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh, call me and we’ll make some magic happen.
Penn Brewery Pumpkin Roll Ale
This is a hair darker, cloudier, and not as sweet as Wylie. There’s an interesting earthiness to the smell, almost like being in a pumpkin patch, but also quite a bit of sweetness. It reminds me of a true cream soda vanilla sweetness.
The taste is also not as pronounced as Wylie in terms of sweetness (jeez Angelica, find another word besides “sweet” here, k?) and pumpkin flavor. While it didn’t start out as, “Look at me, I’m a pumpkin beer!” there’s a spice that’s reminiscent of a pie here. And when it warms up, the full spice compliment really stands out.
Full Pint Night of the Living Stout
Oh baby, this is as dark as a Kardashian sisters’ soul and the winter nights that are just around the corner.
It’s also nicely malty. I’m getting a more cracker flavor as opposed to biscuit with this one. No cracker-soul comparisons here, sorry.
Something that threw me off is the fact that Full Pint describes Cascade hops used and I’m just over here like, “What citrus?” I’m not tasting citrus, but I’m definitely tasting something hoppy. It’s a cool twist on a stout to have that flavor thrown in.
Let’s just accept that this a flight of When it warms, it tastes totally different because when this warms up, it definitely has some citrus flavor to it. It’s really nice to cut through the malty sweetness (someone please bring me a thesaurus) with that hoppy bittnerness.
What I learned: fall beers, pumpkin beers in particular, are much better when you let them mellow for a second. Temperature-indicating landscapes will do you no favors on these bottles. The malt profiles are fun to play with, too; get ready for more cracker-biscuit jokes as my beers get darker. Also, I need to find a thesaurus.
What are your favorite fall beers?