HOPtoberfest: New Twin Cities Autumn Craft Beers

The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, there is a crispness in the air. The lighter, sessionable, citrusy beers are making way for more malty, caramel and darker beers to help us stay warm. I love fall for many reasons, and the Oktoberfest beers are one reason. At HOPtoberfest at the Cub Stillwater Wine and Spirit shop last week, I sampled local craft beer and met the brewers from Rush River, Lift Bridge, Summit, Bad Weather and Fulton breweries.

HOPtoberfest Cub Stillwater | Kale and Ale

The scene at HOPtoberfest at Cub in Stillwater.

It was fun to talk in an intimate setting to the brewers and those on the front lines in the shops, about their beers and thoughts on beer. And it was fun to talk with others there about what they liked, why and what brought them out. It was a diverse crowd. I love beer tastings, because I’m a lot more likely to try a few ounces of a style of beer I would never order a pint of. Case in point: My favorite non-hoppy beer was Lift Bridge Fireside Flannel Brown Ale (a rebranding of the Chestnut brown ale) with coffee, chocolate and just the right amount of cinnamon.

HOPtoberfest Rush River | Kale and Ale

Rush River with it’s Wet Hop Minion IPA growler.

I also finally tried Fulton’s Hopstar, and learned that shortly there will be a hopped up version of it, Specter NE IPA. I can’t wait to try that. While Summit brought it’s 25th version of the Unchained series, the brewer for 26 was there talking about it. West of Seventh will be a Belgian dark ale available later this month. How perfect will that be for winter? Bad Weather brought it’s Earl Gray beer, Tippin It Down. The Earl Gray is noticeable, but not intrusive, as it lends a great balance to the beer. Rush River threw a happily surprising curve by bringing a growler of it’s wet-hopped beer, Minion IPA with wet hops. What a treat, I’m glad I could experience that, since I don’t see myself getting to the taproom during the wet-hopped beer timeframe.

What seasonal local beers are you now drinking or looking forward to? Do you plan to try any of the above beers?

This week in food

This next week has so many exciting food and drink events that I have to share them with you! I am super giddy, as I think all my favorite food and drink bases are covered. Best food and drink week ever? Best food and drink week ever!

Here are all the great things going on this week. What will you participate in?

Sunday: National Coffee Day

National Coffee Day KaleAndAle.comDifferent chains are having different deals. With Dunkin, you need the app to get the free drink, but it’s worth it for coupons and the store locator alone. As is Starbucks since you can pay with your phone and find stores. Hopefully there is a chain in your area on this list.

Tuesday: World Vegetarian Day

CSA2Every Oct. 1 is World Vegetarian Day, kicking off Vegetarian Awareness Month and ending with World Vegan Day. October is my favorite month for many reasons, and this is one of them. (Bonus: My CSA returns this day!)

Wednesday: National Kale Day

National Kale Day KaleAndAle.comImagine the surprise and excitement at KaleAndAle when I learned it is National Kale Day! I have never heard of this before so I was thrilled to hear about it just in time. According to the website, National Kale celebrates kale’s incredible health benefits, highlights kale’s culinary versatility, and promotes eating, growing and sharing kale.

Various days: Oktoberfest celebrations

Oktoberfest KaleAndAle.comSold! I love going to German bars and having the limited-edition Oktoberfest or trying American beer inspired by Oktoberfest. I love the polka and oompapa music that is played, the prost and merriment. I’m not ashamed of my love for mustard, pretzels and even sauerkraut. I’m proud of my German heritage.

Do you know of any other happenings or will you participate in any events? Please share! And if you Instagram any of these events, tag @KaleAndAle or share on the KaleAndAle Facebook page.

What I’m into now: Seasonal beverages

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Everything about it makes me happy.

In the Upper Midwest, the fall is always a time of change. The air becomes more crisp. Leaves change. Layers of clothes needed increase. Growing up, I would go to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch and get to pick my food.

October is also a time for celebrations. My birthday is in October, and I met and married Bill in October. Being German and from a German area, I have always enjoyed celebrating Oktoberfest with some of my favorite foods. Even with all this, one of my favorite highlights of autumn is seasonal drinks.

Two of my favorite fall beers: Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead and Southern Tier’s Harvest

I don’t particularly like sweet items, and this is my time to celebrate not-too-sweet, sometimes savory beverages. I love seasonal beverages of all kinds: hot or cold, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. I’m always up for a warm cup of mulled apple cider or a pumpkin spice latte. I can always go for a cold hard cider or Oktoberfest beer.

I don’t drink lattes much throughout the year, but I can’t resist a pumpkin spice latte. Warm apple cider tastes different and more right in the fall. And a fall seasonal brew is the best. And last month I was lucky enough to experience my brother’s homemade alcoholic drink, apple pie.

Different seasonal beers are available all year, but there is just something about the autumn batch that is the best. Brewers try to outdo one another, and take it upon themselves to make more extreme-tasting drinks. Brewers will release the beers in small amounts so they are difficult to find. It is the only time of year that I want to taste as many seasonal beers as I can to find the one.

Two of my favorites are Shipyard Pumpkinhead and Southern Tier Harvest. Pumpkinhead has the best balance of any pumpkin beer I have had; it’s a nice amount of cinnamon without being too spicy or sweet. Harvest is perfectly named, exactly how I would think fall in a bottle would taste, rich with hops.

I have tried to track down Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin with no success since it came out last year. Two weeks ago, I went to a bar that had it, and they ran out earlier that day. If anyone has had it or has a favorite autumn beer of their own, I would love to hear about it.