Ray's FIRST Craft Beer Newsletter
Fall Is Here!
October 2012
Volume 1 Issue 1
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,
 
Before we get into the newsletter, I want to introduce myself. My name is Dan Downes and I'm relatively new to the Ray's family. I have a passion for beer (my wife may say too much) and I'm looking forward to sharing this bi-weekly newsletter with everyone. Ideally, I'd like to use this space to share info about new items we're bringing in and give some of the story behind the great products we sell. If you have any questions whether its about the newsletter or beer in general, feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com or simply reply to any of our beer newsletters.
 
Thank you for your time, and on to the beer...
IN THIS ISSUE
Oktoberfests/Märzens
Pumpkin Beers
Beer Cocktail
The leaves have changed, the temperature has dropped and Old Man Winter will soon be upon us. Here at Ray's, though, we see the silver lining because the end of summer means one thing -- the coming of fall seasonal beers! Specifically, that means pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests start to appear on the shelves. Not sure where to start? Don't worry. We have your guide to fall beers right here.
Oktoberfests/Märzens
 
Before refrigeration, bacterial infections and the heat made it foolish to brew beer during the summer. As a result, the last beers were brewed around March (März in German), kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months and finally tapped at the beginning of fall. These Oktoberfest beers (also called Märzens) are smooth, clean and the perfect way to welcome autumn:

 

Spaten Oktoberfest 

 

Are you a traditionalist? Want to see where it all began? One of Munich's original breweries, Spaten, lays claim to production of the first Oktoberfest beer in 1872. There will be toasted malt on the nose and subtle clove and spice aromas. Slightly sweet, the classic German hops come through softly and give the beer a slightly dry finish. You'll definitely not have a problem putting down half liter steins of this one (or 12oz bottles)!

 

New Glarus Staghorn Oktoberfest

 

While all the traditional German breweries make excellent Oktoberfest beers, don't count out their American counterparts. New Glarus may be known for Spotted Cow, but they create a prime example of the Oktoberfest style (and a personal favorite of mine) with Staghorn. The beer has a strong caramel aroma and uses "noble hop" varietals to give it some earthiness. A very well-balanced beer, the caramel sweetness of the malt leads nicely into a slightly spicy hop finish. Creamy and highly drinkable, this one will give you the courage you need to put on a pair of lederhosen! 

Pumpkin Beers
 
Besides Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin beers are another fall treat. A style that dates back to colonial times, pumpkins were used to brew beer because of shortages in acquiring malt for brewing. It's importance should not be overlooked. Just check out this folk song that dates all the way to 1643:

Instead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies;
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon;
If it was not for pumpkins we should be undone
... Hey down, down, hey down derry down....
If barley be wanting to make into malt
We must be contented and think it no fault
For we can make liquor, to sweeten our lips,
Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips.

As malt and other ingredients became readily accessible, the style faded away until Buffalo Bill's Brewery (available at Ray's) resurrected it in the late 80s drawing inspiration from some of George Washington's recipes! Here are a few of our favorites...
Southern Tier Pumking

Picture via stbcbeer.com
While George Washington may have brewed a pumpkin beer, chances are he never came up with something like Pumking. Pumpkin pie in a bottle best describes this beer. On the nose you'll get all the spices of the favorite Thanksgiving treat -- nutmeg, cinnamon and even a bit of allspice and vanilla. The taste follows the nose and delivers all that pumpkin goodness that you'd expect. A sweeter beer, you'll swear you could taste graham cracker crust! Pairs well with any sweet dessert, but can also accompany poultry dishes or hearty stews. A must have for any fan of pumpkin pie.

 

Hoppin' Frog Double Pumpkin Ale

Picture via hoppinfrog.com
While many know Hoppin' Frog for their gold medal winning B.O.R.I.S. imperial stout, people shouldn't ignore their fall seasonal. The beer pours an amber color and gives off lots of pumpkin and nutmeg aromas. Slightly sweet but not cloying, the pumpkin and cinnamon flavors come through strong at the end. Perfect for enjoying on its own, it also pairs well with Camembert or a strong English Cheddar.
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Picture via smuttynosebeer.com
Over the top pumpkin pie flavor not your thing? If that's the case, Smuttynose Brewing out of New Hampshire is the pumpkin beer for you. The addition of natural pumpkin puree in the brewing process gives this beer the subtle flavors of pumpkin flesh. A nice breadiness from the malt comes at the back end and will make you think of (my favorite fall treat) pumpkin bread! This beer pairs perfectly with Thanksgiving dinner or braised root vegetables.

 

The Bruery Autumn Maple

Picture via thebruery.com
An interesting take on the pumpkin beer style, this beer is actually produced with 17 lbs of yams per barrel! They also add 
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla and maple syrup and ferment it with their traditional Belgian yeast strain. Definitely one of the more complex beers out there, it perfectly balances the spicy and sweet flavors. The malt characters give you a sense of caramel and toffee, then the nutmeg and cinnamon come in to deliver a kick along with a spicy Belgian yeast finish. This is Autumn in a glass!
Beer Cocktail of the Month
Pumpkin Smashing

This month's concoction comes from Milwaukee's very own local Great Lakes Distillery. Their seasonal pumpkin spirit is actually the product of distilling down Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Lager. They then take the distillate and age it in a combination of new and used Bourbon barrels.

Ingredients: 
1.5 oz Great Lakes Pumpkin Spirit
Lemon slice
Orange slice
Dash of Cointreau
Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Lager

Directions:
Muddle Cointreau, orange slice and lemon slice in a Collins glass. Add Pumpkin Spirit and fill with ice. Stir well. Top with Lakefront Pumpkin Lager and stir to combine.
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's first beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

Lastly, for up to the minute beer arrivals and release information, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cheers!

Dan & the gang at Ray's

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