Baxter's second seasonal ale has arrived. Fall is an interesting time of year because it seems like, as the leaves turn and the temperature drops, more and more spectacular beers get released each year. It's even better when the local beer scene starts putting out exciting new beers, and this is definitely one of them.

Baxter Hayride Autumn Ale, clad in quaint plaid and complete with a red tractor logo, claims it to be a "rye ale brewed with New Zealand Pacifica & Pacific Jade hops, aged on ginger, peppercorns, orange peel and American oak." Talk about experimental.

Pouring an undeniably hazy, cream soda-like light-medium brown with orange highlights, this beer boasts a retentive off-white head with very spotty lacing. My first sip definitely bears flashes of everything mentioned on the label. This one's got something for everyone but never feels like too much in any specific way.

I get the feeling the subtle oak-aging has a lot to do with the fact that this is so drinkable. The oak seems to temper and smooth out the heady carbonation, while also doing some easing-out of the wild flavor profile here. Light vanilla is definitely notable in the middle as the spicy rye and ginger lose footing on the way to the prickly finish. The aftertaste is probably the most well-done part, combining the sweet, spicy and citric flavors in perfect harmony. Check out Baxter Brewing Co. and follow them as they (hopefully!) make more amazing seasonal beers with out-of-the-box, good-old-craft-brewing ideas.


The official breakdown

Style: Spiced Rye Ale (aged on oak)

ABV: 6.6%

Appearance: Light-ish brown/amber with nice haze. Lots of suspended particles. Spotty/inconsistent lace and fairly retentive small, eggshell-white colored head

Scent: Citrus-y hops and spicy, sour rye combine with light oak/vanilla and some black pepper. Quite an anomaly, but not off season at all; actually somehow very spot-on!

Taste: A bizarre but satisfying concoction; medicinal and chewy with tonic-like qualities. Dry and bitter, bright and fruity, hoppy, spicy and slightly-sweet. Very unique

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is hard-hitting initially, but as the beer warms the oak becomes more apparent and takes a bite out of it. Smooth and flavorful with only a slight ethanol bite

Drinkability: At under 7% ABV and with such a dense, tightly-packed flavor profile, I could legitimately drink these all autumn long, and just might... keep an eye out for Baxter!


Clown Shoes Let My People Go

One of the newest in Clown Shoes' consistently-impressive portfolio of beers, this is one of CS' most sessionable offerings, in terms of alcohol content. This is a beer in the English-style Pale Ale, which is typically a tough sell in the current American craft beer market due to its malt-forward body and middling ethanol strength. This is simple and clean; it's good drinking, and Clown Shoes is a great company making awesome beer on the regular.

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