Pumpkin spiced lattes are back, trees are turning their typically beautiful fall colors and the dads of the house have a firm grip on those who dare to touch the thermostat. Autumn has arrived and while we can all appreciate this wonderful season and the beauty it brings to the leaves; it also brings Hærf-est – once an old-English word for “autumn” or “August”, known more formally to us now as harvest season.
Growing up in the Midwest, one of our favorite parts about the cooler months is getting to take the family trip to our local apple orchard to pick apples straight from the tree, grab a pumpkin that was just picked from the patch, and on your way home after a long day out in the cool fall air, grabbing some warm doughnuts and apple cider for the road. This isn’t the only perk of living in a region that is known for its wide variety of crops that are harvested in the fall.
In temperate crop-growing regions across the country, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and hop fields alike become ripe going into the month of September with the freshest ingredients. Your favorite local brewers and cider makers can use these harvest flavors to craft a great beverage. Once the fields have been harvested, hops that are freshly picked from the bine (yes bine, not vine) are brought right from the field to make the freshest wet-hopped ales you will find all year, while the rest are quickly pelletized and stored cold in an effort to preserve the essential oils needed for hops to retain flavor, aroma & bitterness. For apples, the September harvest season is the sweet-spot for most of the varietals of apples that are used in our favorite ciders throughout the year.
To celebrate the harvest season and the impact it has on our favorite beverages, the 1st Annual Harvest Fest will begin at open on Saturday, October 24th, and will run through Sunday, November 8th. Each HopCat location has curated a list of harvest ales, hard ciders & pumpkin ales that represent the hard work and fresh flavors our local brewers and cider makers put into their craft.
We’ve also put together some unique and seasonally specific limited-time offerings that will be available during Harvest Fest. Check them out at your local HopCat from October 24th-November 7thwhile supplies last!
- Turkey Bacon Brie Melt- Oven Roasted turkey, hickory-smoked bacon, garlic aioli, onion, creamy brie and honey crisp apples on sourdough & served with Cosmik fries
- Beverage Pairing: Harvest Ale – These wonderful fall seasonal beers often come in the style of American IPA, but will sometimes take on the character of a West-Coast or New England version of the style. The carbonatation and general brightness of these styles are a perfect match for a creamy and rich melt and should lend a hand to enhance the flavor of the turkey and bacon.
- Sweet Potato Harvest Bowl (VT)- Maple sweet potatoes, exotic grains, quinoa, roasted cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, arugula, queso fresco, and roasted garlic vinaigrette
- Beverage Pairing: Pumpkin Ale – While this dish will have some sweetness shining through in the maple sweet potatoes, the amber style in which a pumpkin ale is typically brewed works wonderfully with a lighter entrée dish like this one. While the ingredients in this dish all come together to create a fantastic bowl of harvest ingredients, the pumpkin flavor is really what ties this dish up.
- Apple Strudel Bites (VT) - Bite-size apple strudel in puff pastry tossed in salted Carmel seasoning, drizzled with bourbon caramel sauce
- Beverage Pairing: Semi-Sweet Hard Cider – Traditional hard ciders are a perfect match for richer dessert’s, and just because this one features apples doesn’t make that any different. Like flavors is always a welcomed match and with the salted caramel seasoning and bourbon caramel sauce, the cider should work wonders in cleansing the palate of any residual richness from the latter ingredients.