Crafted and Canned: the Best Fall Beers
We love a good craft beer here at Huckberry, and now that many breweries have begun offering their custom brews in cans, we think we've arrived at the apex of enjoying a good beer in the wilderness. We love cans because they're more rugged, can be tossed in the bottom of your pack without fear of breaking, and they're feather-light when empty, so they're even easier to pack out.
Every season is a great season for beer, but we're fond of fall in particular, as the selection moves away from the lighter, summer weather beers in favor of richer and heartier amber-colored ales. Very dark and stout beers are best saved for the bitter cold of winter, so fall is the perfect in-between season to break out your favorite hoppy IPAs and crisp lagers. We've collected some of our favorite craft beers in a can, all of which will partner perfectly with your next fall-camping adventure.
We couldn’t do a fall beer guide without throwing in at least one ale with a little pumpkin to spice things up. The He-Said Belgian-Style Tripel by 21st Amendment Brewery means you can get the tastes of the fall festivities without having to settle for a sub-par beer. Still a Belgian, but strong enough to keep you warm, the galangal, and tarragon give a bit of spiciness, and the pumpkin (which, we admit, can be a dangerous line to walk) comes through without being too overpowering. At 8.2%, it’ll keep you warm on those cool nights this fall. Pairs best with grilled or roasted fowl like duck, turkey, or chicken.
Wolf Among Weeds by Golden Road Brewing doesn’t reinvent the IPA wheel, but it’s still damn good. This is a tried-and-true IPA, no doubt about it. Nice and bitter when it first hits you, but washing down pretty easily with a grassy finish, Wolf Among Weeds is made right here in California, and is a great canned option if you’re an IPA guy (which we know a lot of you are). It’s got a decent amount of carbonation and a few hints of citrus, but still manages to be round and malty enough that it’s an IPA best-suited for fall than any other season. Make sure you pair this one with a food that’s equally as complex — like a grilled steak or burger, or even your favorite spicy Mexican selections.
With the flood of pale ales on the market these days, it can be nice to get away from the tried-and-true flavors of the IPA, while still having a drink that holds onto a few of the same flavors that have made the IPA one of the most popular beers on the microbrewing market. Still hoppy but less bitter than your traditional (or double) IPA, the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red IPA out of Colorado is a malty beer that’s great for fall. A few subtle citrus hints ensure this damn strong beer (8.7%) goes down surprisingly easily.
Ballast Point has long been one of our favorite breweries, and we're huge fans of their Sculpin IPA. It strikes a great balance between dark and light and is full-bodied without being overwhelming. It still retains the hoppy and bitter taste that you would expect out of an IPA, but it also serves as a smooth and easy introduction if you've never tried one before. Full of flavor, we take the Sculpin with us on any trip that involves camping overnight because at 7% it's heavy enough to keep your digits warm once the sun goes down.
It wouldn’t be a fall beer list without a local favorite. Our pick? The Pt. Bonita Rustic Lager brewed just across the bay by the Headlands Brewing Company. Inspired by the rugged Pacific coastline located just north of Huckberry headquarters in San Francisco, this light, Bohemian-style Pilsner has just enough hop to remind you that you’re indeed drinking beer, while remaining crisp, refreshing, and easy to drink. Clocking in at punchy 5.3% alcohol by volume, Pt. Bonita is only available in a "big-ass" 16oz can, meaning there’s plenty to enjoy, as you sip it by the campfire, or keep within reach as you wait for the Rainbows to bite.
The amusingly named Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose Ale is a good example of how beer can transport one to a faraway place (and no, we’re not talking about your fond kegstand memories on the ‘quad, sophomore year). Anderson Valley Brewing Company from Booneville, California has canned the essence of a coastal wilderness with a tinge of the ocean’s salty spray in this unique, and refreshingly tart ale. Effervescent, but with just enough bite for the falling temperatures, the Holy Gose is also surprisingly light — only 4.2% by volume, leaving you plenty of room to enjoy the earthy notes and citrus undertones without forcing you to end the night early. Once you get used to the dry and salty finish, reach for Holy Gose as a crisp twist on your favorite lager.
Falling mercury naturally spells the perfect time of year to hang up the pilsners and reach for something with a little more 'girth.' You want 'heavy,' but not ‘too’ heavy, of course. Answering that call to a tee, is the Brew Free or Die IPA from San Francisco’s own 21st Amendment Brewing Company. ‘Brew Free’ is by character, a much lighter India Pale than, say, a more traditional IPA like Wolf Among Weeds mentioned above. Even with admittedly less body, it still carries a firm malt backbone and plenty of the hop that you’d come to expect with anything that says ‘IPA’ on the can. It’s also worth noting that most IPAs traditionally check in anywhere between 6 and 8 percent by volume, and ‘Brew Free’ sits comfortably in the middle at 7%. This is the perfect IPA to close out a fall mountain bike ride or an epic day hike — with strong affirmation, but not so heavy it’ll keep you from getting out there again the next morning.