One of the many great things about beer is that it has four distinct seasons. Intertwined with the weather, brews are bubbly and sharp in the spring, light and citrusy in the summer, crisp and mellow in the fall, and dark and thick in the winter. And now that Seattle is creeping out of its steamy summer months, beer drinkers are preparing their palates for the onset of autumn and the eventuality of winter. As such, we’ve prepared a handy list of 11 Seattle-area beers and ciders for enthusiasts looking to spice things up this season.
Amber: Odin Brewing Company
Ambers seem to be many people’s entryways to the microbrew world (see: Jack’s, Mac &). But many of those ambers are also thick and syrupy. Odin’s Gift Amber Ale is the opposite. While it’s dark in color, it drinks light. It’s also a touch malty with no trace of hop and finishes—magically, as if aged in an oak barrel.
Cascadian Dark Ale: Port Townsend Brewing Company
Beer experts know about the CDAs (or, as they’re also called, Black IPAs) and love them. They’re dark and rich—sometimes tropically, as Firestone Walker’s is—but they always come equipped with that lovely sharp hop. Port Townsend’s CDA is made a touch lighter in body than others, but it’s one of the region’s best, and is perfect for a fall pint.
Christmas Ale: Maritime Pacific Brewing Company
No matter how many years go by, there is something continually special about Maritime’s Jolly Roger. The beer that bears the name of the brewery’s taproom always seems special when it arrives each holiday season. Jolly Roger is bold and strong, and has a spark of signature fireside spice.
Cider (apple only): Seattle Cider Company
The one consistent problem with ciders is that they are often too sweet, cloyingly so. But the Seattle Cider Company knows how to use its apple harvest properly. The Semi-Sweet is mostly dry and, like good champagne, something which you can have more than a single sip of.
Cider (flavored): Finn River Farm Cidery
The. Best. Cider. Finn River, located in tiny Chimacum, churns out ciders of all varieties, and—because I prefer a dark, tart berry version as opposed to the plain apple—the effervescent Sparkling Black Current Cider is something worth leaving the city for.
Fresh Hop: Stoup Brewing
This brewery does just about everything right when it comes to pale ales, session IPAs, and, yes, the yearly Fresh Hop Pale Ale (i.e., a beer made from fresh, not dried, hops each September). Stoup knows the pinpoint balance between bite and bitterness, and while every fresh hop is different each year (that’s the beauty of nature, right?), trust they’ll do it (kissing fingers like a satisfied chef) wonderfully.
Porter: Georgetown Brewing Company
The folks who bring you Manny’s and Lucille also know how to brew a dark, rich beer perfect for the wintry season. Georgetown is known for brewing some of the smoothest, cleanest concoctions in the city, and while many porters can be earthy or even mealy, the 9 LB Hammer is top notch.
Oktoberfest: Dru Bru
Way up in the Washington snowcaps, a sunset-hued, German-inspired beer is brewing. The Oktoberfest, much like the dragon smugly snoozing in the mountains, comes down to visit the city but once a year. But when it does, it’s a party—and, thankfully, the beer dashes any and all fiery breath.
Pumpkin Spice: Elysian Brewing Company
Pumpkin-spice beers can be hit-or-miss, but you have to appreciate any brew that alludes to the classic Peanuts mythical creature, as does Elysian’s Great Pumpkin Ale. Elysian has been a fixture in the city for years, and their big, bold style, represented in their GPA, is now Seattle Classic.
Stout: Reuben Brews
Reuben’s is fast becoming one of the city’s favorite breweries, and the powerful, creamy Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial from Ballard is the kind that warms your body in a blustery, leaf-blown chill.
Winter Ale: Fremont Brewing Company
A beer that drinks like you’re always sitting by a fireplace, this dark, rich brew is brought to you by one of the Emerald City’s microbrew kingpins. Fremont is one of the rare breweries whose canned suds taste as good as their versions on tap, and this smooth, spiced winter ale is no exception.