Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Hermitage Brewing Fall Beer Trifecta

From left to right Oktoberfest, Burn's Bitter, and Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale
Fall is my favorite season, it's crisp cool days making for perfect running weather.   Fall is also the time most breweries put out their fall beers, traditional malt forward beers with a toasty and caramel flavors and low hop profiles to capture the flavors of the season.   Being a malt forward kind of guy, I tend to be a big fan of fall beers.  Wouldn't you know, South Bay's Hermitage Brewing is putting out three new fall beers, and gave me a chance to try them over at their brewery.   I ran into one of my beer blogging inspirations, Hermitage Brand Manager Peter Estaniel at the brewery tap room who gave me the low down on the beers.   So without any further ado, let's delve into these fall offerings.

Burnes' Bitter
The Burnes' Bitter, is well, bitter.  It's got a crisp, clear underlying malt and as Peter explained, "all the hops in this beer come from the UK."  I found the bitterness more herbal and tea-like as typical in British beers, without the spicy or fruity character other hops might bring to the brew.  At 4.5% abv with it's palate cleansing bitterness, it worked quite nicely as a session beer.

Traditional Oktoberfest's are light lagered beers that are a little toasty or caramel with a light hop character specifically designed for large scale consumption in the traditional beer orgy that is Oktoberfest.  This is not your traditional Oktoberfest beer, and that's a good thing.  Hermitage uses Common Yeast which gives it a musty character, the requisite toasted malt, and healthy doses of hops that lend a fruity character and more bitter finish to the brew that is far bigger, stronger and more complex than a traditional Oktoberfest.  Call it a "West Coast Oktoberfest" and while purists may cringe, enjoyable and memorable brew.

Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale
And now we get to the star of the show, Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale.  As Peter described, "we took a bunch of organic heirloom pumpkins grown on a nearby farm, then roasted them at the brewery, then ground them up and added them to the brew kettle.  The yeast ferments out of lot of the sugar so it has a little different taste them people might associate with pumpkin".    Unlike many other breweries, Hermitage doesn't add any additional spices to their pumpkin beer.  The base beer is best described as an Imperial Red, very smooth, malty and a little caramelly with low additions of hops to let the pumpkin flavor shine through.  The pumpkin is pretty subtle, and gives the resulting brew a nice twist. Peter found the pumpkin to get the brew a little vegetable like finish, which I also noticed.  At 9% abv, it's works really well as an fall afternoon or evening sipping beer.

Organic Heirloom Pumpkins for the Fruit Crate
Pumpkin Ale Roasting Away (Photo from Hermitage Brewing)

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