Beer is a great equalizer. It’s nostalgic. It’s historic. We love beer—even if it doesn’t always love us.
So we’re not surprised that people travel far and wide to discover new breweries. And fall just might be the best time to discover new flavors. Driven by a love of unique flavors and our desire to create better beer pairings, we decided to explore craft beers available in our own area—the DC-metro region.
Starrhill Brewery (Charlottesville, VA)
Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter
Verdict: Starrhill’s seasonal brew is an English-style porter with hints of pumpkin. It pours a dark brown, almost black color. It has a very pleasant pumpkin spice aroma, which didn’t turn up in the flavor as much as we were expecting. However, the smoky taste is excellent for those who tend to avoid sweet seasonal beers.
Pair with: Its woody flavor pairs perfectly with classic BBQ dishes. Bring it with you to your next fall picnic or outdoor roast, or serve it alone with a frosting of cinnamon and sugar on the rim of your glass.
Peabody Heights Brewery (Baltimore, MD)
The Raven Special Lager
Verdict: With its eye-catching, Baltimore-themed bottle, we were excited to try this local lager. Our first observation of the copper-colored brew was that it smelled strongly of malt and grain. The self-described “Southern German lager” tasted more like a mix between a lager and an ale. It featured medium to heavy carbonation, started malty sweet and finished with a mild bitterness.
Pair with: The carbonation would cut through spice well, and would pair nicely with pepper jack cheese, stir-fry or a spicy chicken dish, like our Chicken Adobo.
Clipper City Brewing Co. (Baltimore, MD)
Heavy Seas Cutlass Amber Lager
Verdict: Heavy Seas is a local favorite that doesn’t disappoint. Amber Ale is no exception. Our first observation of this clear amber brew was that it smelled like toasted malts and caramel. The flavor is slightly sweet until the hops take over, and it finishes on the dry side. The Amber Ale’s warming quality makes it a great cool-weather beer.
Pair with: Their website suggests pairing it with “sausage, sauerkraut and soft pretzels,” but we love the Marzen Mushroom Gravy recipe they include, ideal for a hearty winter meal. As chefs, we can appreciate the time it takes to create a new recipe. Props, Heavy Seas.
Dogfish Head Brewery (Dover, DE)
Verdict: The name speaks for itself—this is a standout beer. Dogfish Head brewed their award-winning Belgian-style brown ale with beet sugar, green raisins and Belgian yeast. While it smells a bit boozy, it tastes clean and balanced with some earthiness to it. It has great drinkability with a warm, pleasant finish.
Pair with: This slightly tart, earthy beer offsets heavier fare in the right way. Pair with fall flavors like ham, mussels, a wood-grilled steak, goat cheese or a wine-reduction sauce.
Grab a local brew this fall and savor the flavor!