‘Tis the season for fall beers

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

I have not always been a beer person. Maybe that’s because the parties of my youth played host only to Coors Light, or because in college I took a liking to tequila over any inferior carbonated beverage.

Whatever the reason, I remained a Leinenkugel-here-and-there type of person until March 2020, at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Housebound and craving a change, I told my fiancé to surprise me by buying any beer he thought I’d like on his way home. He brought me a six-pack of Georgetown’s Lucille IPA, and my taste buds found their true calling: drink fancy beer, eat pretzels, repeat.

This love of brews seems to have hit its stride in the fall months, as I’ve delved into the world of fall beer. It’s a wondrous world, full of bready hops and hints of nutmeg, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

I’ve decided to write about some of my findings, and to give them scores. My rating system goes from zero to five — five being a frosty pint of MickDuff’s La Cerveza with a lime while dining on Lake Pend Oreille in the summer, and zero being a warm porter you found at the bottom of a musty cooler that was last unpacked two years ago.

All of these beers were purchased from small businesses in the Hope/Clark Fork area, and all of them were sipped from glass bottles after long, tiring days of writing stories for this rag. 

I might write for a living, but I have a layman’s knowledge of beer, so be kind.

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat
Score: 2.9

Blue Moon’s signature fall release felt like the right place to start on my autumn beer journey. My experience with the Harvest Pumpkin Wheat seems to mirror that of most of the internet’s beer reviewing connoisseurs: “Meh.” I wouldn’t ever turn one down — the pumpkin flavors are pleasant and the light ale goes down smooth. But would it be my first choice now that I’ve tried some other seasonal releases? Probably not. While others left my palate warm and happy, this beer felt unremarkable after a few sips.

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest
Score: 3.7

Though my natural tendency is to gravitate toward pumpkin-flavored things this time of year — yes, I am what the kids call “basic” — I decided I better branch out and try a fall release that celebrates the season without any large, orange gourds playing a part. Sierra Nevada’s 2020 Oktoberfest release — done in a lager/marzen style — is on the hoppy side, but with just enough sweetness to carry the flavor into a pleasant, not-too-bitter finish.

Elysian Night Owl
Score: 4.8

This beer nears perfection in my book. Sweet without being decadent, Elysian Brewery’s Night Owl uses — from what I have learned online — 150 pounds of pumpkin in each batch, and the flavor remains a comforting undertone throughout the experience. Each sip first delivers hints of perfectly blended fall spices — nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice — then ends on a smooth, warm finish. The balance between overpowering fall creation and hearty, bitter beer is outstanding. I will be buying this again.

The above is a small sampling of what’s out there, and in a perfect world, I will one day try every single glorious fall brew that’s on the market.

While the three beers I’ve been fortunate enough to sip over the past couple of weeks were purchased in grocery stores, I’m sure the breweries in and around Sandpoint have plenty of seasonal releases to share. Support them when you can, and drink one (or two) for me.

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