I love seasonal beers, we have such diverse seasons in New England and it is fascinating to see how creative brewers develop beers that complement each unique season. Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of ingenuity in the fall. For years most brewers made Oktoberfest/marzen beers as their fall seasonals, and lately it seems like every brewer is making some version of a pumpkin beer (some are even making multiple versions). I understand the desire to brew a traditional style like a marzen or to brew one of the pumpkin beers that sell so well, but it would be great to see a little more creativity and variety in the fall. One brewery that breaks the mold is Baxter Brewery in Lewiston, ME. Every fall Baxter brews Hayride, a rye ale brewed with New Zealand hops along with ginger, orange peel and pepper, and then cold conditioned on oak. Baxter Hayride in available during the fall on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Baxter Hayride pours a deep amber with a solid off-white head. The scent is a mixture of fruity hops and lightly roasted malts along with a little spice. The taste is very complex, there are lots of different flavors in this beer but they work well together. The malts add substantial body along with touches of caramel, whole grain bread, honey and spicy rye. There is also a noticeable hit of hops, notes of pine, lemon and cut grass along with mild bitterness. The spices are subtle, but add some ginger and orange flavor, especially as the beer warms. You also get some of the vanilla flavor that is standard for a beer aged on oak. Baxter Hayride is medium bodied and goes down smooth, at 6,6% ABV it’s perfect for cool autumn evenings. The finish is crisp with just a little lingering spicy, sweet and bitter flavor on the tongue. I love seeing a brewer go against the grain for a seasonal release, and Baxter nails it with this beer, a great change of pace from pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
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