It’s no surprise you’ll find Bell’s Octoberfest topping our September Expert Picks. The eagerly awaited seasonal treat from Bell’s heralds the arrival of autumn flavors, which on the Beer Frontier generally run along toasty and citrusy lines – flavors that move indoors with us as we warm up to cold-weather ideas. No ugly sweaters yet. We’re thinking more angora and fireplaces.
Crafted as a flavorful session beer, Octoberfest spends a full six weeks fermenting. With a touch of caramel and cocoa, this balanced amber lager focuses on lightly toasted malt that lends body without too much sweetness. As perfect for the start of autumn in the Midwest as the world’s largest Volksfest in Deutschland.
Enjoy Bell’s Octoberfest with traditional schnitzel and sauerkraut, potato pancakes with spiced applesauce, and a salad with citrus vinaigrette. Or try it in (and with) the outstanding German-style Apple Cake recipe below. Octoberfest makes a delicious malty partner to the cake’s sugary, caramelized edges and the carbonation cuts through the sweetness.
Apfel Kuchen (Apple Cake)
• 2-3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
• 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and grated
• 1½ cup All-purpose flour
• 1 tsp Baking powder
• 1 cup Sugar
• ½ tsp Salt
• 1 stick plus ¼ stick (10 Tbsp) Butter
• 2 Eggs
• 1 Tbsp Milk
• 1 splash of Bell’s Octoberfest
• ½ tsp Cinnamon
• ¼ tsp Nutmeg
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
2. Sift 1¼ cup flour and mix with the baking powder, ¼ cup of sugar, and salt.
3. Cut 1 stick (8 Tbsp) of cold butter into small cubes. Using a food processor, cut the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until it looks like sand.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, Octoberfest and grated apple. Stir into the sandy butter/flour mix until a dough forms.
5. Press dough into greased baking dish until it extends to every edge evenly.
6. Layer the top of the dough with the peeled and sliced apples.
7. Take the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and cut into small pieces, dot over the top of the apples.
8. Mix together the remaining flour and sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread the mixture evenly over the apples.
9. Bake for 35-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
10. Enjoy with whipped cream and Bell’s Octoberfest!
Old Nation N.E. M-43
This New England-style IPA is the soft and flavorful result of carefully combining top grade malt and hops, Michigan water, and a brewing technique that can’t be faked. The first release in Old Nation’s “New Orthodox” IPA series, M-43 is designed to accentuate the deep and complex character from the combination of Calypso, Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo hops. Citrus and tropical notes of pineapple, mango and grapefruit come through in a huge yet surprisingly delicate aroma. The flavor backs these aromas with a soft, pillowy mouthfeel. Hop bitterness isn’t particularly intense, which leads to a very drinkable, New England IPA even non-IPA fans love. And the haze is good! The Haze in N.E. M-43 isn’t from yeast, but rather the partnership among lipids from the malted oats and the oils and acids which naturally occur in the hand-selected dry hops.
Maui Big Swell IPA
Believe it or not, at some places along the Beer Frontier, autumn doesn’t arrive with cool breezes and the soft crunch of fallen leaves, but with the crashing surf ‘twixt tilting palms. Maui Brewing’s Big Swell is a dry hopped IPA with big floral and citrus flavors, a little biscuit and a little honey, and as perfect for a Midwest barbecue as it for a luau. Pair it with spicy dishes, especially something with an island flavor, like pulled pork, kimchee, or a Hawaiian pizza.
Vander Mill Totally Roasted
You’ll never taste autumn the same again after you’ve tasted Totally Roasted. The medley of cinnamon, pecan and vanilla will turn your preconception of hard cider on its head. The balanced spice and nutty finish make a delicious partner to roast pork, mild curries, creamy risottos, Camembert and other soft, creamy ripened cheeses.