Events like the Eat Local Milwaukee Challenge are teaching us that eating food as it's seasonally available is the healthiest, and greenest, way to consume.
It comes as little surprise, then, that the same holds true for the beer we drink. OK, fine, drinking a blueberry flavored ale in July doesn't have quite the same antioxidant effect as fresh berries from the farmer's market, but there is a significant taste advantage to craft beers that use seasonally fresh ingredients rather than pre-packaged commercial syrups.
With shorter days and cooler nights on the horizon, we Wisconsinites shouldn't waste time lamenting summer's end, but rather embrace what's ahead: the colorful changing of the leaves, football season and flavorful fall beers.
Let's not fool ourselves; beer is a staple of any Packers party and there's no reason you need to stick to the same old sips. This season, spend Sundays forgetting about Favre by focusing on these fantastic craft brews.
Here are five great fall seasonal beers to swill and a snack recommendation to pair with each. Game on.
1. Ale Asylum's Ballistic IPA -- 7.5% ABV
The brewery bills this one as an "aggressive" American-style IPA. What does this mean? It means they mean business in the hops department, but any sharp bitterness is undercut by sweet, citric undertones that give it its pleasant aftertaste.
Gameday snack pairing: The full-bodied flavor makes it a good match for anything with a little kick. Think hot wings, spicy nacho cheese or shrimp with a sharp dipping sauce.
2. Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Lager -- 6% ABV
The pumpkin doesn't overwhelm this beer as it can with other brands, but liking the flavor is definitely a prerequisite for enjoying this autumn option.
Gameday snack pairing: The real pumpkin brings out the flavors of hearty meats, which is what makes it a popular choice at Thanksgiving. Match this one up with a batch of saucy meatballs and your stomach will be happy.
3. Magic Hat Brewery's Roxy Rolles -- 5.1% ABV
Brand new this autumn, this beer is "an amber ode to the open road." A big departure from the hop-heavy IPAs, it's got a sweet malt aroma with deep notes of passion fruit from Simcoe hops.
Gameday snack pairing -- Burgers are always good with ales. If you can, set up the TV on the back porch, get the grill going and enjoy a backyard tailgating session.
4. Sierra Nevada's Anniversary Ale -- 5.9% ABV
It's a big, full-flavored ale bursting with aromatic hops. But, it's also got four varieties of malts added to the mix, making it both refreshing and complex.
Gameday snack pairing: This is an easy one: cheese. It pairs well with assertive aged cheeses such as Pedrozzo Dairy's Northern Gold or Aged Farmstead Cheddar from New York. That's what their Web site suggests, but if you can't find those specific kinds of cheese, rest assured that good old fashioned Wisconsin cheddar cheese will be just as good, if not better.
5. Bell's Brewery's HopSlam -- 10% ABV
For all you hopheads out there, this double IPA is "brewed with honey and is hoppy as hell." It smells a bit like citrus, is amber in color and is balanced between sweet, sour and bitter flavors.
Gameday snack pairing: Your best bet? Anything involving barbecue sauce. Chicken, wings, hell, even a big bag of barbecue potato chips would probably do the trick.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”