There's no better way to usher in a new season than with a seasonal beer. Living in New England, we get to experience both the changing seasons and some exceptional seasonal brews. The crisp air is best experienced with a crisp ale.
Lewiston Maine's Baxter Brewing Company has burst onto the scene recently as the only New England brewery to distribute all of its beer in cans. Celsius Summer Ale, Stowaway IPA, Amber Road, and Pamola Xtra Pale Ale have become staples in my refrigerator and in my cooler. Cans travel well, and I'm completely on board with the movement toward more beer being sold that way.
Baxter capitalizes on both the seasonal and traveling themes with their fall offering called Hayride Autumn Ale. Sold in a red-and-black plaid can, Hayride's suggested retail price is $8.99 for a six-pack. It has an ABV of 6.6 percent.
You're well within your rights to drink this beer from the can, but poured into a glass, Hayride appears a beautiful amber. Sniff the fluffy white head and some hints begin to emerge that this is not a standard fall offering. Are those ... hops? Indeed, New Zealand Pacifica and Pacific Jade hops form a spicy, citrusy nose. Rye malt, another misfit in a "typical" fall beer, plays prominently in the nose as well. Thankfully, this is not going to be a malt bomb.
There's a nice hop profile in the flavor of the beer, but sweeter malt keeps this from tasting too much like an IPA. The beer is smoothed out further by aging on ginger, peppercorns, orange peel, and American oak. Rings of lacing stick to the side of the glass as you work your way through this beer, which is not hard to do. I'm not a huge fan of Oktoberfest-style fall seasonals, and this is a great departure. It might be my new favorite fall beer. Take some with you on your next trip to the farm and crack a can after you tackle the corn maze.