As summer fades, we no longer seek the light, crisp, refreshing brews that are necessary for warm weather. Autumn brings something a little heavier, a little more flavorful; something you can pop open in front of a bonfire as the evening chill dips into the 50s and 40s. We need beer you can enjoy while hiking through forests of leaves changing color and breaking under your shoes. Need a few ideas for fall brews? Here are a few recommendations by one of St. Paul’s veteran bartenders.
Kevin “Kleezy” Kleman
Señor Wong Craft Bar and Restaurant
111 Kellogg Blvd E
St Paul, MN 55101
Señor Wong has quietly been operating in downtown St. Paul for years, serving up Latin-Asian fusion eats while offering one the most creative tap lists in the city. With the constantly changing beers, and seasonal rotations that you often can’t find anywhere else, Wong doesn’t waste a single one of its 18 taps on forgettable brews. Behind the bar you’ll find Kleezy, who started as a vodka enthusiast while working at St. Paul’s Moscow on the Hill, before deciding to tackle the growing world of craft beer. In a beer city like St. Paul you have to know your way around hops and suds, and after years of studying (drinking copious amounts of) beer, he certainly does. Here are a few of this bartender’s favorites for when the weather starts to cool and the leaves start to change.
LOCAL BREW: Indeed’s Sweet Yamma Jamma
From Northeast Minneapolis comes a bold beer, full of flavor, that will surely satisfy any taste buds that are looking for those autumn flavors often provided by pumpkin beers. The subtle sweetness of the Mama Jama adds just the right amount of flavor, and with just a hint of summer (the landscape isn’t frozen yet), it is an incredibly enjoyable beer.
Our neighbors in Michigan put together one of the best of the countless Oktoberfests on the market. Not too hoppy, and with a nice, clean taste finish that doesn’t linger too long in your mouth – it’s the quintessential fall beer. And one you can drink all evening long without getting sick of it.
Bell’s Double Cream Stout
Bell’s also does a nice, thick double cream stout that is really delicious. A tip from a pro: to celebrate that last bit of Minnesota’s warm weather before the chill of winter sets in, make a float with this beer. The creaminess of the stout pairs so well with ice cream that you’ll forget all about root beer.
Tyranena’s Rocky’s Revenge
Bourbon brown ales are also great for fall. They have that whiskey bite of bourbon, that will warm you up on nights when the temperatures dip a little lower. These brews have all of the benefits of a glass of bourbon, but won’t have you missing work with a hangover.
LOCAL BREW: Surly’s Darkness
Almost moving into the darkness of winter beer with this one, Surly’s Darkness still manages to be a fantastic autumn brew, seemingly made for those cool nights sitting outside with friends in front of a bonfire.
Southern Tier’s Pumking
A beer that, only a year or two ago, you couldn’t find anywhere has recently gained popularity and blown up around the Twin Cities. Though the beer hails from Lakewood, New York, the sweet, pumpkin aromas will remind of pumpkin pie after a day in the patch right here in Minnesota. Harvest beers like these will set the new standard for autumn drinking, and will start popping up more and more. You won’t have to stick with any old Oktoberfest any longer.
Another harvest beer to keep an eye out for this autumn on the local level, hitting the market for the first time, is St. Paul brewery Tin Whiskers’ Shottky Pumpkin Ale. With the record of the brewery thus far, this should be a great addition to the harvest beer rotation.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.