I love fall, but I hate the clichéd “specialty” beers that are released around this time. I also hate Oktoberfest beers. I think they’re garbage and don’t really taste that good, and if you don’t agree, well, that’s your opinion and I’ll pray for you. Pumpkin beers are decent, but that market is quickly being watered down by basically everyone that makes beer in the U.S., except for Cigar City, but I’m also a total fan boy for anything they do so, yeah. Anyways, fall is an interesting time for beer if you exclude Barftoberfests and Pumpkin water. It’s not quite Stout season and, to me, Pilsners are only good when it’s 90+ degrees outside. That is why I have concluded that we dub fall Pale Ale season, because the hoppiness and slight stomach warming you get is nice for those cool fall evenings and, really, they just taste good all the time. New Belgium did a cool thing this year where they did a Tour de Fat, a bike tour around parts of the U.S. to celebrate bikes and beer, and had a beer to support the whole venture, the Tour de Fall Pale Ale. This is the epitome of a fall seasonal beer. It just tastes like fall, plain and simple. Here are my thoughts:
The beer pours a deep amber color, which is much darker than most Pale Ale style beers that I’m used to. For some reason, I anticipated, by color alone, that the beer would be extra heavy. I guess I assumed such because usually darker beers are heavier on the stomach, but then again, that’s not always the case. The nose is a punch to the face of Amarillo and Cascade hops. I am serious when I say this is a hop heavy scented beer, but it will trick you so be aware. There were about two finger widths of white foam that disappeared slowly and left some nice lacing on the glass. Before I go any further, let me say that I was very surprised by this beer’s appearance and scent. It fooled me when I actually started drinking, and I liked that.
Taste is the first place this one threw me for a loop. After smelling the super strong hop character, I was expecting something extremely hop forward and bitter, but that wasn’t the case. When you take the first sip, you’re greeting by a mild hop bitterness that has some funkiness to it. It’s more of a hop and malt bitterness rather than something that uses a lot of citrus. This beer, from what I picked up, uses a lot of malt and caramel with the Cascade and Amarillo hops. The beer finishes with a nice caramel aftertaste that made my mouth water after every sip. The taste is refreshing and makes you want to keep drinking until there’s nothing left. And at 6% alcohol, you don’t really taste any booze flavors, which is always a plus in my book. If you want to be a true beer snob about this one and analyze it from front to back, it’s actually really solid. The initial taste you get is the same taste that you pick up on as it hits the back of your tongue. It’s very rare that you get a beer tastes good all the way to the bottom, let alone a beer that tastes good from beginning of a sip until the end.
On to the worst part, of course: it’s the mouth feel. There was too much carbonation on this one for sure. As I was resting on my tongue, I started to feel like there were tiny knives being stuck into my flapper and it wasn’t enjoyable (clearly after that description, right?). If New Belgium were to tone down the carbonation on this one to about the level of the Ranger IPA, I would basically be throwing my money at them. Alas, this tiny flaw is enough for me to hold a grudge, but it’s not going to stop me from drinking it; I just won’t judge it next time I have it.
All things considered, this is an overall really good beer. The hop character, the slight bitterness, and the less than appealing mouth feel make it about a B+ in my book. This is what fall tastes like to me, though. This is a nice, stomach-warming beer with a light bitterness and the ability to drink multiples, although, I don’t think this would be anywhere near enjoyable in temperatures above 85 degrees because of the heaviness it carries. All in all, a decent beer while it’s available and that’s probably a good thing. It’s a seasonal beer without falling into the cliché seasonal categories. It’s only available during the fall so I advise drinking it just once if anything.

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