It’s become the consensus that, as a rule, autumn beers are not best suited to consumption before Labor Day. I know that, for my part, I find it to be too early to drink them in August when they first start hitting store shelves. The converse of that rule, of course, is that starting on Labor Day, it is open season for Oktoberfests, pumpkin beers, and nutty malty fall ales.
And so I found myself sitting at the bar at Taco Mac on the afternoon of Labor Day, 2013, drinking a draft mug of Anchor Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red Ale. This is yet another new beer from Anchor, a brewery that has traditionally not varied a lot from its staple line of beers. At least not until Fritz Maytag sold the brewery in 2010.
Anchor Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red Ale comes in at 6% alcohol by volume and is brewed with two different caramel malts as well as pale malt; Cacscade, Citra, and Nelson Sauvin hops; and maple syrup. I paid $7 for a mug at Taco Mac. Here’s what Anchor says about this new beer for 2013:
Our fall seasonal, BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red™, was inspired by a native California tree, its incredible leaves, its delicious syrup, and the colors of fall. Bigleaf maple thrives along the banks of California’s mountain streams. Native Californians once made rope and baskets from its bark. Today, artisans handcraft its wood and burl into custom guitars. In autumn its huge leaves, up to a foot across, can display a full range of color as they slowly turn from green to gold to red.
Anchor Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red Ale pours to russet reddish color with a thick creamy head and a big, surprisingly hoppy nose. Taking a sip the beer is tasty with a decided toasty and stewed malt palate. Not a lot of maple appears at first other than a gentle sweetness midway through. Very assertive sharp grassy hop aroma and bitterness and finally a hint of maple flavor arrive as it warms, but only a hint.
As it warms progressively you will get some nutty richness from the maple too and subtle chocolate. Reminds me a little of OSA in a much lighter brew, but the malts are there for it, and for fall beers which generally accent malt this beer is surprisingly hop forward. I think i would like more maple in a maple beer, though. Still, a delightful fall beer, and one I’ll now be on the hunt for in the bottle.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.