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With quite a few sought out stouts in the portfolio, Founders Brewing started the #StoutSeason campaign back in 2012 to mark the time when these beers were available. More generally, though, stouts and other dark beers have been seen as cold weather beverages meant to warm you up...or at least make you not care if you are cold. I've always heard people say that stouts are for cold weather, but have always been curious about how true this is (from a behavior standpoint at least) and, more importanlty, just when is stout season, exactly?!

I've long been an advocate of the "summer stout," more to be contrary than anything. But am I the weirdo? Or is stout as a winter-only beverage an urban legend deserving of a good old-fashioned Snopes.com-style debunking?

In the spirit of a recent article I wrote, "Why Is Pumpkin Beer Released in August," I went back to Google Trends to check out what the reality of the situation is. To make up for year-over-year growth of craft beer, I normalized the data on a June-May year. I also removed a few irrelevant months from the graph that I published here, but only to make the image easier to publish and maintain readability. This "missing data" was taken into account when I actually went over the seasonality.

Stout Season

And, well...the results were fairly obvious. Stout Season starts fairly sharply in November and lasts through March, with a sharp drop-off in April. Seeing as people think of stout as a cold weather beverage, it seems that this belief really does influence behavior and interest in a pretty serious way! For five months of the year interest is piqued, while for the remaining seven months, it's quite low. Oddly enough, if you look back at "Why Is Pumpkin Beer Released in August," you'll see that Stout Season picks up right where Pumpkin Beer Season leaves off. Either way, October shows interest in stouts begin to rise before it spikes in November. In an attempt at hipsterdom, I'm going to enjoy some this month (October)...before they're popular again.

To put it out there from the start, between Devon and me, I'm the more picky one about pumpkin beers. He loves them. I like SOME of them. With that said, it's the first full week of October and Pumpkin Beer Season is in full effect! And this trend ain't going nowhere so, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

While I'm not the biggest fan of pumpkin beer, I do like rum! And Roadsmary's Baby is aged in rum barrels. One point! On top of that, it's brewed with vanilla bean, which is great in a malty beer when done right. Of course it's got the obligatory pumpkin and spices, as well, but that's not what has me excited. As you pour you'll notice the boozy rum right away, but it quickly dissipates and your first actual sniff will bring you fresh pumpkin and mild spices. This is definitely a pumpkin beer, first and foremost, but behind that you'll get the smoothness of vanilla...and I like it.

Two Roads Roadsmary's Baby Pumpkin Ale

Take a sip and behold the gourd that rules craft beer from August to November. The spice is secondary (at most) and the pumpkin shines. On top of that, as it warms, the rum starts to come through, bracing for a cold October evening. All in all, if you love pumpkin beer this won't disappoint. But if you don't, Roadsmary's Baby delivers it differently enough that you'll probably find something you'll like...I did!

Try Roadsmary's Baby and 90 other craft beers and ciders from 25 New England brewers and cider makers at Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest 2014 in Boston, MA on November 14 & 15. Get all the details, see the brewer list, and buy tickets on the event page.

The rise in craft beer has been great, with new choices of beer coming out almost daily! Years ago, you’d be happy to see a token Samuel Adams Boston Lager in the cooler in many stores…now those same establishments have multiple craft six packs and bombers to choose from. With that variety, though, comes…well…choice. To help out, we asked of our favorite Northeast brewers what they would choose. Here are the answers.

Question: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.

Ryan Gwozdz – Head Brewer, Mayflower Brewing Co.

Cantillon Gueuze, Orval, Schlenkerla Urbock, Mayflower Summer Rye, Allagash Interlude, Half Acre Daisy Cutter. I’m adding a 7th, Molson (reminds me beers with my grandfather!).

Ben Roesch – Brewmaster, Wormtown Brewing Co. 

Cambridge Brewing Heather Ale, Harpoon Saison Various, The Lost Abbey Red Poppy, Jack's Abby Fire in the Ham, Wormtown Buddha's Juice, and [North Coast] Old Rasputin XII.

Jason Perkins – Brewmaster, Allagash Brewing Co.

This is not an easy question. There are so many great options out there, and my decision would change immensely depending on mood. Right now (keep in mind it is 7 AM) would be: Orval, Firestone Walker Pale 31, Smuttynose Robust Porter, Sierra Nevada Celebration, a fresh DeDolle Arabier and Russian River Temptation.

Helder Pimentel – Founder, Backlash Beer Co.

To be honest, right now I'd probably walk out with a 6 pack of Heady Topper.

Alex Zielke – Co-Founder/Brewer, Portico Brewing Co.

Alex Zielke - 2nd from left

Off the top of my head, I'd say:

  1. Troegs Nugget Nectar
  2. Zunft Kolsch, Erzquell Brauerei
  3. Left Hand Milk Stout
  4. Southern Tier Unearthly
  5. Alchemist Heady Topper
  6. (and of course) Portico Fuzzy Logic

Shane Welch – Founder, Sixpoint Craft Ales

This is sort of a trick question because many of my favorite beers are not available in bottles.  They are draft-only varieties.  But since this is a "magical" beer shop I am assuming they also can magically bottle these draft-only varieties and have them for sale.  :-)   In that case, I will go with beers from:

  1. Live Oak Hefeweizen
  2. Live Oak IPA
  3. Barrier Brewing Company Dunegrass (shout out to Craig Frymark and Evan Klein)
  4. Hill Farmstead Ephraim (shout out to Dan Suarez and Sean Hill) 
  5. Ale Asylum (shout out to Dean Coffey)
  6. Augustiner Edelstoff Helles (non-export version, the fresh draft straight from the brewery) - FYI this is a beer I can drink gallons of

Chris Lohring – Founder/Brewer, Notch Brewing Co.

My magical beer shop has beers brewed within 100 miles of Boston, and nothing else, and my six pack is a constantly rotating selection of these beers. When people say, “I can’t find local beers as good,” I challenge them: let’s start the blind taste test right now.

Jennifer Glanville – Boston Brewery Manager, Samuel Adams

I’m going to go with a variety of styles. My first choice is a Sam Adams Boston Lager, then a smoky Rauchbier, a fresh crisp Pilsner, an English Stout, an IPA with a variety of American hops & a traditional German Weiss bier.

Rob Burns – Co-Founder, Night Shift Brewing Co.

Rob Burns on right

This is obviously a really tough question. There are so many amazing beers out today that I can never really narrow down my favorites. My ideal 6 pack would include some aged beers and some fresh ones. 

  1. Cantillon Vignerrone
  2. J.W. Lees 1999 Harvest Ale - this aged barleywine is one of my favorite beers of all time
  3. Drie Fontaine Kriek
  4. Six point Bengali Tiger IPA
  5. Rochefort 10
  6. Russian River Beautification

What is your magical 6-pack? Let us know on Twitteron Facebook, or in the comments below!

For Fall to Winter Fest 2014 we're bringing in more hard ciders then ever before! We know we love cider, and showed that when we brought in Downeast Cider to our first beer fest back in 2012. We're happy that, over the years, our attendees have told us how much they love the ciders and want even more. Well, we're delivering!

This year, for Fall to Winter Fest, we're not just bringing you more cider than ever, we're working with Downeast Cider on the Official Fall to Winter Fest Cider! Even better? You get to vote on it below!

We're going to let you, the Drink Craft Beer audience, vote on what ingredients you'd like to nominate to be included in a special cider that Downeast will make ONLY FOR Fall to Winter Fest.

Then, we're going to comb through the list with the guys at Downeast, pick some top choices, and let you all vote on the final blend of ingredients! (NOTE: Nominations closed September 19, this is now final voting.)

So vote below to nominate for your favorite ingredient, then tell us what you picked on Twitter with hashtag #FTWFest, Facebook or in the comments below!

To get your tickets for Fall to Winter Fest on Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th in Boston, featuring 25 of New England's best brewers and cider makers bringing 90+ craft beers and cider, go to the event page now!

VOTING ENDS at 5pm EST on Friday, October 3rd at 4pm EDT.

You can vote for more that 1 ingredient.

Here in New England the Summer weather is quickly fading, in fact I woke up this morning to temps in the low 50's. However, I reject the notion that BBQ season is over, far from it as far as I'm concerned. Now, if you don't have a smoker that's okay, read on as this chicken is still damn tasty without one, thought perhaps you'll keep reading and decide you need to go buy a smoker, also a good call. Smoking meat is really pretty easy, I bought my first smoker last summer for $70 and made some very tasty food on it. Some of you might note I've upgraded since then but this recipe really is almost fool proof. I've made this five or six times now and made small adjustments each time. What I present here is my final recipe that I've come to rely on and decided to share with all of you. 

So before I start, for those of you who already brine their chicken just skip ahead to the ingredients, for those that haven't read on. I had never brined chicken until about a year ago, and then learned how I'd been cooking chicken wrong my entire life. This simple step takes chicken from good to great and it's soooooo easy. I can guarantee some of you are going to look at the salt and sugar content listed below and say "that can't be right!" or perhaps even scale it back thinking you don't need that much...DON'T!. Seriously, this will not make your meet super salty or sweet or anything else, it just makes it tender and juicy and amazing. OK back to the cooking.

Alright without further ado, on to the recipe!



4lb Whole Chicken (you can go larger or smaller if you wish)


1 can of beer half full (drink the first half)

Brine Ingredients:

1 Gallon Water

1 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup Kosher Salt

1 TBSP Coarse Black Pepper

1 TBSP Paprika

2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 tsp Celery Seed

Chicken Rub:

1/4 Cup Paprika

1 TBSP Kosher Salt

1 TBSP Garlic Powder

1 1/2 tsp Dried Time

1 tsp coarse ground pepper

3/4 tsp cayenne pepper 


Heat water to near boil in a large pot and add all ingredients. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Take pot off off heat and allow to cool to at least room temperature. Once cool clean your chicken and submerge fully in the brine, refrigerate for at least 4 hours though overnight is great as well. 

After the chicken has been brined remove from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. 

Combine all rub ingredients and apply liberally to the chicken. You're looking for a nice thin even coating but this is not a time to be shy with the rub, some excess will fall off on it's own the picture below gives you a good idea what it should look like. 

The next step is to choose a beer, I tend to like lagers or lighter pale ales. For this time I used Notch Brewing Left of Dial IPA and it was killer. I purchased a beer can chicken stand off of amazon for about $7, to me it's totally worth it but you can pick these up a lot of place. After your chicken is covered in rub, heat your grill or smoker to 250 degrees. I use apple wood when smoking my chicken. Emtpy 1/2  of your beer into your mouth and then put the other half in your chicken with the spout facing up. As the can heats the beer will evaporate and make your chicken juicy and awesome.

Allow chicken to cook for 3-4 hours or until internal breast temp of around 165, I tend to pull mine off around 160 as it will keep cooking for a bit. It should look something like the pic below if you've done it right!

Once done take chicken off your smoker and remove the stand. Place in a tray and tent with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 mins. Slice and enjoy! This is my favorite chicken recipe and I hope you all enjoy it!