Rum King from Indeed Brewing
This fan favorite imperial stout aged in rum barrels is hard to come by this time in the season — just two weeks after the release date. Pro tip: go to the nondescript liquor store in your neighborhood, the one that you wouldn’t necessarily think would excel in the world of craft beer, because they might just have a few bottles on the shelf (and they may have Haywire, if you’re lucky). Rum King is one of the brewery’s longest running seasonal releases, which makes it popular, especially as the days gets shorter and cooler. The best part is that the brewery’s sour beer, Wooden Soul, is aged in Rum King’s used barrels.
Once you get past the challenging wax-dipped top that is more pomp than purpose, Rum King rewards you with a deep, meaty flavor and a lightly sweet vanilla finish. The head is a thick, dark tan that adds a creamy element to the otherwise dry, malt-heavy, and bitter body that is permeated by burnt caramel notes delivered by the rum barrels.
10.5 percent ABV and 70 IBU
Oude Funk from Boom Island Brewing
Boom Island’s Oude Funk is the first in the brewery’s new Spontaneous Series. A barrel-aged “spontaneously fermented beer,” this sour is made by blending three different years’ vintages and then re-fermenting them in the bottle to create a beverage that smacks of Cuvée René Gueuze lambic, the Belgian industry standard. Having tried a bottle earlier this year when sitting down with Kevin Welsh, Boom Island’s brewer and owner to discuss Boom Days, we found it satisfying to taste the finished product.
Light and effervescent and funky without evoking the gritty barnyard, Oude Funk is so bright and tart it almost overwhelms the palate upon first sip. With a slight yeast on the nose, it is the craft champagne of beers, but flutters with more citrus. As the beer warms, the acidity calms and the body takes on an almost woody flavor, without losing the mouth-puckering tartness. Everything about this beer — available in 375 milliliter bottles with a Champagne-style stopper — says “special.”
4.8 percent ABV
Schottky Pumpkin Ale from Tin Whiskers Brewing
Schottky Pumpkin ale is a definite fall season crowd pleaser. When Tin Whiskers first opened and we sat down with the owners, they were excited to be brewing this now-favorite — which dates back to their home-brewer days — for the general public. This is the fifth bomber in the brewery’s liquor store lineup.
Unlike some brews that are back sweetened, have an excess of cinnamon, or ooze pumpkin-flavor extract, Schottky has a bready mouthfeel that is smooth and chewy because it has been brewed with pumpkin. The pie seasonings accent the fruity finish, and the sweet body has a nutty backbone, making the beer as a whole complex, but with a clear point: pumpkin.
6.6 percent ABV and 28.5 IBUs