Autumn Hop Harvest Ale — Amsterdam Brewing Co.

Fall is a great time for beer drinking. Sweet Oktoberfest Marzens that you drink by the litre, pumpkin beers with their earthy rich flavours, and a range of “harvest ales” that range from spiced warmers, to hoppy pale ales.  Amsterdam introduced their Autumn Hop Harvest Ale this year, featuring fresh (“wet”) Cascade hops, literally picked at a Clear Valley Farms near Collingwood, and delivered to the brewery the day they were dropped into the brew.  A lot of people don’t realize this —  given the popularity of west coast hops — but historically, southern Ontario and upstate New York were once a huge hop-growing region.  Downy mildew destroyed so many fields in the 1920s that farmers shifted to other crops. But happily, with better science and new varietals of hops, growers are reappearing here, and local brewers have been quick to get on board to support them.

Autumn Hop Harvest Ale — Amsterdam Brewing Co.

Autumn Hop Harvest Ale — Amsterdam Brewing Co.

From a silk-screened 650ml bottle, Autumn Hop Harvest Ale pours a clear dark amber, with hints of gold at the edges. About 2″ of head drops to a 1/2″ loose foam that lingers and leaves a heap of lace.  Aroma is big juicy hops, as you would expect.  Pine, lemon, resin, and some earthiness.  There’s also some caramelly sweetness that makes me think there might be some Munich malt in this one.  Taste is also big and hoppy, with pine being the main flavour, the lemon becoming less prevalent.  There is more caramel sweetness and also some nice classic grainy Canadian 2-row barley.  The finish is sharply dry, with astringent minerally hoppy dryness, and a touch of the classic Amsterdam yeast.  While it’s really really hoppy, I presume that a lot, or even most, of the hop additions are late in the boil.  The bitterness strikes me as being in the same range as an American Pale Ale, but with stacks of aroma hops.  It strikes me as being like Market Pale, but with a big shot of late wet hops.  A great beer, not a classic spiced or pumpkin fall beer, but in the same style as Muskoka’s Harvest Ale, a nicely hoppy ale.

Cheers Amsterdam!

Buy Autumn Hop Harvest Ale

Bottles are currently at the retail stores, in Leaside and on Queen’s Quay, and it is also possibly on tap at the BrewHouse. I would guess some amount has made it out to better beer bars in the GTA as well.

Drink It With

Kale, and not just because it’s so damn hot at the moment.  So here’s what you do: make a pilaf with rice and some lentils, and also a generous amount of kale.  Toss in some mushrooms if you want too.  You could eat just this (indeed, I brought a dish quite similar to this to a Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend), or use it to stuff peppers, a pie pumpkin or big mushroom tops, and bake it.  For cheese, I had some awesome blue from Monforte Dairy (totally forgot what Daniel said it was called) that was a cool juxtaposition.  Not too extreme or salty, the sharp tangy funk cut across the dry hoppiness really well.  In fact, if you aren’t trying to keep the pilaf I mentioned before vegan, you could add some crumbled blue to it, and be in flavour country.

About The Brewery

The Amsterdam Brewing Company is an independently owned and operated craft brewery that is deeply rooted in the city of Toronto. A pioneer of the craft beer revolution in 1986 and initially called the Amsterdam Brasserie and Brew Pub, The Amsterdam was the first of its kind in Toronto to offer patrons hand crafted lagers and ales that were brewed ‘in-house’. Today they brew over ten different beers including their flagship lager – Amsterdam Natural Blonde, the award winning Big Wheel Deluxe Amber, Boneshaker IPA and multiple year-round and seasonal brews. The Amsterdam Brewing Company uses only traditional brewing methods and their beers are made with four all natural ingredients – malt, hops, yeast, and water. All beers are GMO-free, without preservatives, and never heat pasteurized.

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