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I have gone on record as a fan of fall. Perhaps it is a melancholic nature, but beautiful decay deeply stirs my heart. Maybe that is why I am such a fan of big, unabashedly malty fall beers, such as that old standby, Oktoberfest.
Malty fest lagers are some of my favorite beers. I used to be big on that other fall seasonal, pumpkin beers, too, but that was when they were few and far between. Now I enjoy their history and the idea of pumpkin beers more than I like to drink them.
But when it comes to fall seasonals, there’s a new kid on the block. The two-year-old Door County Brewing Company in beautiful downtown Baileys Harbor is now in a position to give thought to seasonals, beginning with L’Automne Farmhouse Ale, which hits the streets Sept. 1.
Here is the first thing to know about this lovely new beer – room temperature brings out all its beautiful, shadowy, melancholic notes, and they are many. Don’t make the mistake of drinking it straight from the fridge. Let it warm and reap the benefits of wise beermaking.
It hits all the right notes of a fall beer, yet it’s unlike any fall seasonal in my memory save Capital’s Autumnal Fire, which I once described as liquid candy.
In addition to the Belgian saison yeast, L’automne is brewed with white and dark wheat, caramel malts and rye. The color in the glass is a warm dark brown – burnt umber, if you remember your big box Crayola colors. The nose is spicy. The taste is rich and round with a tangy note that I believe is from the saison yeast rather than from hops.
L’Automne is its own thing. It’s not an Oktoberfest or pumpkin beer, yet it represents the season as well as either of those much replicated representatives of the fall.
Brewmaster Danny McMahon promises that once L’Automne is gone, it’s gone, to be replaced by his Hiver seasonal on Dec. 1, which will be replaced by a Printemps seasonal, which will be replaced by an Ete seasonal. You can tell which season you’re in by the packaging. An autumnal tree is featured on L’automne; a bare tree will indicate the winter seasonal, and so on.
But he also says that this year’s L’automne may not be next year’s L’automne. It’s a brewer’s prerogative to change his recipe. We’ll see.
I love the idea that Danny McMahon and Door County Brewing have found their own path through this crowded craft beer love fest. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead