When the wind begins to whip off the lake and TAs finish memorizing their students’ names, fall cannot be far behind.
In turn, Madison’s local breweries, including Capital, Wisconsin Brewing Company and Karben4 are celebrating the end of backpack-sweat the only way they know how: delicious fall seasonals.
It’s no coincidence the fall colors match the beer in your hand.
With its historically high German population, reminiscences of “Oktoberfest,” Munich’s annual beer festival complete with sticky surfaces and lederhosen, are apparent throughout Wisconsin.
But other perhaps even more primal factors could be at play for why Madisonians covet something new as the leaves fall.
Giotta Troia, marketing and communications manager for Capital Brewery, said in an email to the Badger Herald the weather could affect beer cravings alongside cultural factors.
“Fall is an ideal time of year to explore high octane beers, flavored beers, mild and light beers, all the same,” he said. “Warm during the day and cool at night gives you the appetite for a much wider range of beer styles.”
Capital celebrates this natural desire with a variety of seasonals. In addition to their recurring classic Marzen-style lager, Oktoberfest, they have brewed the more limited Autumnal Fire as well as a barrel-aged variety of their pumpkin-spiced Pumpkinataur. Troia believes the latter will carry drinkers all the way to turkey day.
“Think about sitting around the table at Thanksgiving and identifying the aromas in the air, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice,” he said.
Change of the season doesn’t mean a change in brewing mindset
Wisconsin Brewing Company is another homegrown hero anticipating thirsty Badger consumers this fall. Their customers are perhaps less interested in harboring a pretentious six-pack in their fridge for a month and rather are drinking for both quality and quantity.
“We try to make beers that are very traditional, but also very drinkable,” WBC’s “beer guy” Carl Nolen said. “There’s way too much innovation right now. New doesn’t mean good. We strongly believe good means good.”
While their Chocolate Lab Brown Porter has been delivering on this promise for several years, WBC is adding an extra dimension of flavor with Porter Joe, which combines their chocolate malts with coffee beans developed exclusively by Barriques on Park Street. This smooth, creamy concoction will be available from the end of September through January.
But WBC is not only looking forward, but backwards — several centuries backward. Their upcoming stone-brewed scotch ale called Death Charge uses techniques from the history books, including heating a granite rock to 600 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 hours. This limited brew will be available Oct. 10, while some lucky batches will be sent to age in bourbon barrels.
Take a trip to Devil’s Lake without leaving the living room
Karben4 Brewery hopes to elicit the past in a different manner with their Oaktober ale. The drinking experience was designed to feel like hiking by Devil’s Lake in the fall, according to director of operations Meena Dayal, a nostalgic approach to a classic Oktoberfest brew.
Oaktober is indeed closer to nature than one might believe; the ale receives its earthy flavor from French and American whiskey-soaked oak chips hanging above the fermenter. It will be available at their taproom and various bars throughout the state after mid-September.
This fall light a Bucky Badger Jack-O-Lantern, dig out your favorite sweater and crack open a seasonal cold one from Madison’s microbrewery scene.