No, things haven’t gone as planned this fall. But it could be worse. The Syracuse Orange could be the Bye Week Fightin’ Byes instead. The two storied rivals face off on Saturday in a game you can’t watch even if you wanted to.
Whether you’re drinking before, during or after Saturday’s apple-picking or leaf-raking, we’ve provided some local and not-so-local beer recommendations below. Fair warning in advance: You won’t be able to acquire at least one of these.
Syracuse Area Beer Pick: Red Hawk Brewing Bouchon
Red Hawk is a small operation between Onondaga Hill and Marcellus that puts out some real fine product. Focused on traditional old-world style beers, the offer anything from saisons and dubbels to abbey ales and a wee-heavy. One of the top picks from them every time I’ve been in their bouchon. It’s a smoked ale that they imparted flavor in by roasting the malt over apple wood. A nice mix of malty mouth feel with smoky character hits the spot for this time of year. They also do a maple version of the bouchon as well, made with local Marcellus maple syrup.
General Market Bye Week Pick: Sierra Nevada Celebration
Seasonal beers take all sorts of shapes and sizes, yet most of them trend toward something dark or heavy this time of year: selections like winter warmers, stouts or porters. But as the pioneer of what became the standard for hoppy beers on the West Coast for decades, Sierra Nevada’s winter seasonal is Celebration, a fantastic holiday IPA that’s nearly 40 years old at this point. It’s piney, warm and rich, yet tropical at the same time. Some mild spicy notes at the back-end really hammer home the vibe to pair with any meal you’re likely eating between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Or, in the case of this “game,” whatever your lunch is on Saturday.
Los Angeles Area Beer Pick: HopSaint Name Dropper
Will note that this review is about the older version of the beer. The brewery made some tweaks in 2020 with a hop bill of Cryo-Mosaic, Amarillo and Sultana. As a result, it’s something a bit bigger and more tropical than the beer described below. But you can see the relation.
HopSaint’s go-to West Coast IPA (at least if you ask John) was a classic example of the style. It’s light, tropical and a little bit dank, with citrus notes that make it far too easy a drink for a beer that clocks in around 7.1% ABV. It’s not a hop bomb, but rather is a well-balanced collection of Simocoe, Equinox and Azacca hops. Crisp, bright and surprisingly smooth, Name Dropper is a throwback to beers that haven’t been pursued to maximums in one way or another.