First of the Fall 

The calendar says it's still summer, so it may be a bit premature to be exploring the specialty beer releases for autumn, but consider this: On Aug. 11, it was 59 degrees and pouring rain at 2 p.m. The following day, at the same hour, the mercury pushed past 70. With that in mind, cracking open a few fall brews seems completely appropriate. Here are three you should find worthy.

New Belgium Hoptober Golden Ale

With a clear and bright golden pour, the frothy head on this beer fades quickly but leaves a nice lacing. The aromas are beautifully floral with noticeable touches of pine and citrus-soaked hops, along with a touch of mint. This brew has ample hop presence up front with a definite smoothness that is just lightly bitter. With rye and oats added to the malt mix, there's a nice depth of flavor. Sweet citrus and creamy malt blend nicely in this very satisfying fall seasonal brew.

Red Hook Late Harvest Autumn Ale

Aromas reminiscent of banana bread with a light minerality mark this amber-hued brew. Ripe orange-laced malt flavors rule here, with just enough hops and crisp citrus to keep things in balance, while soft carbonation helps it all go down smooth and easy. The finish of this very flavorful ale is clean and refreshing. This brew is a pleasant surprise from a Washington craft-brew pioneer.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

This Chico, Calif., brewery decided to nix its usual fall release, the Anniversary Ale, thinking that the lineup was a little hop-heavy. They went with this brown ale instead. Nice choice. It offers dark and toasty malt and grain aromas that dominate the palate; they're lightly sweet and nicely balanced by soft hops and citrus. An intriguing hint of smoke adds interest--this beer is seriously good stuff.

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