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Fall is so fun that it’s a season with its own distinct flavors. We all know them: nutmeg, pumpkin, cinnamon. Spices that warm our tastebuds and our bodies as the temps drop.
Boulder’s local breweries hop on board with the tasty trends every fall, too, and release their own varieties of limited seasonal beers. Some are experimental and come and go quickly. Others make their mark and return to eager drinkers every autumn. While certain flavors may mark the season, there are so many different ways to play with them.
If you’re looking to try some well-established but totally different seasonal beers while you’re in Boulder this fall, head to Avery Brewing’s tap house, 4910 Nautilus Court North. Avery has two annual seasonal beers worth trying: the Chai High and Rumpkin. Both are on tap but are very unique. Try both, then buy cans or bottles of your favorite flavor to bring back home.
“They’re both so different, but that’s what’s so great about it,” says Vanessa Cory, marketing communications manager for Avery. “They’re both perfect for the fall and the holiday season, even though they are so different.”
Here’s a look at two of Avery’s most popular seasonal beers and how they compare.
What is it? A brown ale mixed with chai spices. Chai High is actually doubly Boulder; the chai concentrate used in the beer comes from Boulder-based Bhakti Chai. While traditional chai includes black tea, this version omits the tea (and therefore the caffeine). Chai High contains 5.2 percent alcohol.
What does it taste like? Chai High is warm and surprisingly refreshing. Imagine a chai latte but in classic brown ale form: creamy, spicy, flavorful.
The combo works because the malts in the brown ale are roasty, warm and rich enough to hold up to the intense chai spice. In the same way that many people like to drink chai with milk to mute the strong chai flavors, the malt of the brown ale balances out the spice in such a way that neither is overpowering.
“It mellows out the spices in a nice, rich, warming way,” Cory says. “Sometimes alcohol can make you feel warm, and the chai spices do that exact thing, too. It warms your body, and that’s why it’s so perfect for the fall and winter.”
While the Chai High is comforting, it’s not heavy. It’s still refreshing and won’t weigh you down.
What’s the story? Avery wanted to partner with Bhakti Chai in some capacity and gave the combo a try last fall, unsure what to expect.
“It was overwhelmingly successful. People loved it,” says Cory.
She says Avery’s research and development team is constantly coming up with new ideas, and they love to partner with other local businesses (Avery works with Ozo Coffee for its coffee beers).
“This was an experiment and it stuck,” Cory says. “That’s how a lot of our beers are developed.”
When is it available? Chai High was released in August and will be available throughout November, possibly into the winter. Last year, Avery only offered the beer through the fall, but due to its popularity, the brewery is extending its season this year. You can’t find Chai High in the spring or summer.
Where can you get it? Try it on tap. Find it on the shelves of most local liquor stores. Avery’s taphouse sells it in six-pack cans.
What is it? The Rumpkin is the complete opposite of the Chai High, Cory says. It’s a pumpkin ale that has been aged in rum barrels.
The Rumpkin is 16.9 percent alcohol. So yeah, it’s no joke. It’s brewed to be high alcohol, but then when it’s aged in rum barrels, it soaks in not just the rum flavor but also some of the spirits, increasing its alcohol percentage.
Fun fact: The alcohol percentage changes a little based on the batch.
What does it taste like? It basically tastes like pumpkin pie soaked in rum. It’s designed to mimic a pumpkin pie flavor, with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg. The rum flavor isn’t super pronounced but it does come through. Especially if you smell it. Your nose won’t miss the booziness of the rum. The high alcohol content also tricks your tongue into expecting liquor, and the beer delivers.
Rumpkin is hefty. While the Chai High will warm you up with its spices, the Rumpkin will warm you up with the alcohol.
“This is a full-flavored, in-your-face beer,” Cory says. “It’s pumpkin spice and rum, but to an extreme.”
So it’s an ideal dessert beer if you prefer to drink your pie.
What’s the story? Adam Avery, the founder, had the craving for a beer that tasted like pumpkin pie soaked in rum, and the brewery began experimenting until they nailed it. Avery has been making the Rumpkin since 2011.
“It’s a tried and true fall seasonal,” Cory says. “People can’t get enough.”
When is it available? Only in the fall. Rumpkin is much more exclusive, with a smaller limited batch. It was released in August and will become increasingly harder to find as fall goes forward. It’s only available until it’s gone, from the tap house and the shelves of local liquor stores.
Where can you get it? Rumpkin is sold in individual, 12-ounce bottles. It’s also on tap at the brewery.
Due to its high alcohol content, Cory recommends splitting the bottle with somebody.
“It’s perfect for a date night,” she says. “It’s also a great celebration beer, perfect for those days when it’s snowing and you’re bundled up watching a movie or doing something special.”
The Rumpkin is also popular for beer fanatics with beer cellars. It’s the kind of beer you can you let sit in your cellar for a few months or even a year to taste how it changes over time. Cory says if you let it sit for about six months, the sharpness of the alcohol mellows out a bit.
“It’s a perfect gift for somebody really into beer, a classic that they can drink immediately or hold onto,” she says.
A Closer Look at the Avery Tap Room
Avery’s Tap Room has 30 different taps, all Avery beers, that change up weekly. While you’ll find Avery’s most popular variations here, there are also some small-batch, very experimental rarities that you can only find in the brewery.
Whenever you come to Avery, there will be new beers on tap so there’s always something novel to try. That’s one of the biggest draws.
Avery’s atmosphere is lively every day. You’ll find a mixture of locals and visitors.
“A lot are checking off a bucket list item to visit Avery because they’ve loved Avery for so long,” Cory says.
Even if you think you don’t like beer, she recommends visiting.
“Our servers are so knowledgeable. They’re there to help anybody, whether you’re really experienced with beer or you don’t think you like beer at all. They can always find something that you like, with 30 different taps,” Cory says. “We talk about trying to convert those people who don’t like beer into beer lovers because we have such a range of beers.”
The Chai High is a great beer to convert people into beer lovers, she says.
“It’s familiar. It’s something they know. And it just feels great to drink. It’s perfect for the season,” she says.