What We’re Drinking: October 2016

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Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on a recent remarkable beverage. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on Twitter,Facebook, and Instagram.

Tattersall Distilling Amaro, John Garland, Senior Editor

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John Keats once called autumn the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s also the feeling I get from my favorite liqueur that Tattersall Distilling has produced—their bitter Amaro. It smells like toffee and the starts off like caramel. But then comes that mellow fruitfulness with a warming mixture of baked fig, plum, and raisin. The finish turns just bitter and dry enough to keep it balanced—there’s none of that harsh herbal snap that may have turned you off to amari in the past. A splash of this with one big ice cube, and that’s my nightcap for as long as there are still leaves on the trees.

Prairie Artisan Ales Apple Brandy Barrel Noir, Keith Grauman, Web Editor

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Hype. It’s a tricky beast. Just ask “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Years of build-up gave us little more than one of the worst characters in history of the silver screen. When I saw Prairie Artisan Ales’ Apple Brandy Barrel Noir getting rave review after rave review online, my natural inclination was to assume that the beer was good, but that it couldn’t be that good. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you this beer is no Jar Jar Binks. This imperial stout aged in apple brandy barrels carries a nose thick with brandy, toffee, caramel, and apple. There are three distinct waves of flavor as it goes down the hatch: the booze hits right off the bat, shifting to a chocolatey, vanilla sweetness, and finishing with woodiness from the brandy barrels. It impressed me with its layers and complexity, all with a mouthfeel that’s spot on for a beer of its style and strength (12% ABV). The Force is strong with this one.

Finnegans Dead Irish Poet, Joe Alton, Editor-in-chief

As the season turns toward colder days you’ll find me drinking a lot of porters and stouts. This extra stout was co-created by Finnegans founder Jacquie Berglund and Summit head brewer Damian McConn. Jacquie’s vision and Damian’s Old Country roots combined to create a beer bold and complex enough for a guy like James Joyce. Dead Irish Poet pours black with a dark tan head. Aroma is strong on roasted malt with hints of stone fruit. The predominant flavors are dark chocolate, coffee, cherry, and malt toastiness. An appropriate amount of sweetness is balanced nicely with a subtle touch of alcohol presence and the addition of traditional UK hops like Fuggles and Goldings. This is an underrated treat for you to try this fall or winter.

Eastlake Craft Brewery Dank Aaron Double IPA, Brian Kaufenberg, Managing Editor

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October: the pennant races are over and now the best players battle for a World Series berth. A good time to crack open a bottle of Eastlake’s Dank Aaron Double IPA, named after one the game’s greatest sluggers (and still reigning home run champ #asterisk), Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. Each batch is a little different, but at 9.9% ABV and 100 IBU this version is a heavy hitter. Strong resinous hops, caramel, and citrus aromas from orange juice to lemon zest burst from the glass. Sipping it, the beer is slick and coats the tongue with orange and dried apricot before the bitter, resinous hops cut through. A good companion for celebrating your team’s playoff victory or, if you’re a Twins fan, wallowing in sorrow until next spring.

Sapsucker Farms Barrel-Aged Yellow Belly, Kate Murphy, Editorial Assistant

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Fall is here. Scarves have crept back into my wardrobe, leaves are transitioning to shades of gold and crimson, and football is back in action. To me, there’s no better harbinger of autumn than a hard cider. Enter Barrel-Aged Yellow Belly, a cider crafted by Jim and Debbie Morrison of Mora, Minnesota. It’s aged in bourbon barrels, providing a subtle oak tinge, while still letting the apples’ fresh, fruity goodness shine. The fruit’s delicately sweet and floral flavors are in balance with its tart tang, and boasts a finish that’s dry but oh so spritzy—a perfect refresher after raking leaves, pumpkin carving, or a final cookout of barbecued chicken. Farewell, warmer days. But at least I have a cider as crisp as the cooling breeze to welcome in sweater weather.

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