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Review: Mystic Brewery 'Will o' the wisp'

Winter is coming, but if you're looking for a medium-bodied fall beer to help you transition, Chelsea's Mystic Brewery makes a good one.

mysticwill.jpg "Will o' the wisp" is Mystic's autumn saison. Brewer-founder Bryan Greenhagen specializes in Belgian-style beers. Using big, square wine fermenters, Greenhagen crafts small batches for each season. His fall saison is sweeter and darker than the ones you've seen on store shelves this summer. I picked up a bottle labeled "batch no. 002" last week.

"For fall we celebrate with a beer focused on dry rye malt with character, accented with brown sugar, and spiced with American and Slovenian hops," the bottle label reads. "At this time of Samhain, when the door to the other side is flung open, travelers must be aware that leaving the path to chase the will o' the wisp may lead them so far astray they may never return."

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter (I had to look it up). Will o' the wisp are lights seen by travelers over bogs, swamps, and marshes at night. This brew is for those thirsty wanderers.

With a fading sky in front of me, the beer pours a dark chestnut. There's some citrus in the nose, but I mostly get the scent of warm, spiced cookies.

The first sip reveals lots of brown sugar. It's not as funky or crisp as most of Mystic's saisons, but it fits the season. It tastes like a Belgian Dubbel, not overly sweet but plenty bready for a cool night. As a fan of Mystic's beers I am continually impressed with the varieties of saison produced.

For more info on Greenhagen and his beer, check out a story I wrote in April. Cheers.

Here are some upcoming beer events to note:

-- Nov. 2: The 2nd Annual Latin Foods and Local Brews Fundraiser takes place at the Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville. The event will support Casa Connection, a non-profit organization based in Boston that supports the Casa San Jose Orphanage in Colima, Mexico.

The event features New England breweries paired with food from Boston area Latin restaurants. Music will be provided by the Afro D All Stars. A silent auction with special items will accompany the evening's festivities. Breweries include Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Smuttynose Brewery, Mayflower Brewing, Foolproof Brewing, White Birch Brewing, Enlightenment Ales, Samuel Adams, and more. The fundraiser provides funding for 25 percent of the charity's operations. All proceeds will benefit the charity. There are two sessions: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. You can purchase tickets here.

-- Nov. 14 to Nov. 16: NERAX North

The New England Real Ale Exhibition North 2013 festival will be held at the Barking Dog Ale House in Haverhill. NERAX is one of my favorite events, championing cask or "real" ales in an age of carbonation and too-cold beer from your local sports bar. The festival aims to present more than 50 hand-pulled, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and non-carbonated offerings from the U.S. and Great Britain. Ticket information can be obtained on the NERAX website.

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