Monday, October 24, 2011

Using the Other Autumn Fruit in Beer – Autumn Ale from the Woodstock Inn

When we think of fruit-oriented beers released in autumn, we naturally think of pumpkin. It’s the most commonly used fruit in beer released during this time of year. However, the Woodstock Inn and Brewery does something a little different, and to great effect.

Located in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, the Woodstock Inn Brewery’s generically named “Autumn Ale Brew” is brewed with apple flavor. Although aromatic esters of apple are not uncommon in beer – especially in Belgian styles – I can’t recall another beer I‘ve had with apple infused into it. As unique as this beer may be, I also can’t help but think it shouldn’t be unique. Aren’t apples just as much of a staple fruit in October as pumpkins are? Why don’t brewers use apple more often?

Heck, why not use both apple and pumpkin? It tastes like that’s what Woodstock is doing here. In fact, if you look closely on the bottle’s label art, you’ll see what looks at first to be three ghoulish figures whose heads are carved pumpkins. Look closer and you’ll notice that those heads are actually apples carved like jack-o-lanterns. Clever.

This is a good-looking beer. It’s dark amber in color, a bit hazy, and is capped with an off-white head. Despite apple owning Autumn Ale's character, its aroma still offers pumpkin pie in addition to apple cider and cinnamon.

The taste hits you up front with pumpkin, then cinnamon spiciness in the middle. It finishes with big notes of apple that linger strongly on the finish and help form a crisp mouthfeel.

I really enjoyed this beer. The apple-cider character added another layer to an otherwise familiar seasonal brew. It was all in balance, and not too sweet. Look out for this one in the store soon before it’s gone for the season. Or, if you happen to be near Woodstock New Hampshire, stop in the brewery.

The Woodstock Inn Brewery is a convivial brewpub for families and ski bums equally. I’ve only been there during winter months, but I remember its various rooms serve different purposes. Families dining with kids stick to their own two rooms, while two bar areas are typically where skiers from Loon Mountain join at the end of a ski day.
Grade: A-

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