Seasonal foods and beverages seem to line grocery store shelves earlier and earlier every year. Come mid-August, Virginia breweries begin to release their line of autumn beers, preparing our palates for the distinct savors of fall fruits, pumpkin and spice.
Five breweries from the Commonwealth’s Coastal, Central and Mountain Regions have already made their seasonal debut, and what better way to toast to the end of Virginia Craft Beer Month than sampling one of their signature brews.
9519 Critzers Shop Rd., Afton
Everything about this ghostly brew screams Halloween. Spooky is an unspiced Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed with cocoa nibs and over 200 pounds of freshly pureed pumpkin. The fall-inspired mixture is aged in both charred American White Oak Rye and Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, infusing the beer with flavors of vanilla, oak and coconut.
How to enjoy: Pair with pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, dark chocolate truffles and Gruyére cheese.
200 Mosbys Run, Roseland
Devils Backbone reimagines old-fashioned Oktoberfest biers with their signature fall seasonal, O’Fest. Medium-bodied and reddish amber in color, O’Fest boasts rich, malty notes of creamy caramel and toasted bread paired with imported malts and Saaz, Hallertua Mittlefrau and Northern Brewer hops.
How to enjoy: Pour a stein of O’Fest and indulge in a hearty charcuterie board loaded with smoked sausage, pork, spicy jalapeño jack cheese and dark breads.
Eat It Too Pie Ale
4100 Knolls Point Dr., Goochland
Eat It Too Pie Ale is bursting with all-American flavors. Brewed with a mysterious concoction of fruits, spices, hops, malts and yeast, the American-Style Ale is unique to any other pie brew on the market. Eat It Too drinkers celebrate the seasonal beer for its dominant flavors of apple and caramel and a subtle layer of spice.
How to enjoy: Serve in a chilled glass with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and top with whipped cream to create an autumn beer float.
Golden Pear Belgian Golden Ale
212 W 24th St., Norfolk
Juicy, golden and layered with complex spices and herbs, O’Connor’s Golden Pear is flowing with quintessential fall flavors. The prickly brew was inspired by traditional Belgian brewing practices, incorporating German pilsner malt and Trappist yeast strain into a blend of Belgian candi sugar and pear juice. Honeyed malt, fresh apples and a bouquet of herbs develop at the nose while savors of freshly picked peaches and earthy spices arise from Golden Pear’s orange body.
How to enjoy: Pair leafy salads or light proteins like chicken, salmon, mussels and bratwurst.
9519 Critzers Shop Rd., Afton
Venture into the deep, dark woods with Blue Mountain Brewery’s full-bodied Dark Hollow stout. The low-roast imperial stout is aged in charred American oak bourbon barrels, permeating the black brew with subtle notes of bourbon and vanilla. Hints of chocolate surface at the nose, followed by a creamy and malty mouthfeel.
How to enjoy: Imperial stouts are often considered stand-alone brews, but can be paired with smoked goose and foie gras or heavy desserts like dark chocolate truffles or a raspberry chocolate mousse.