While colorful chilled cocktails may be the darlings of summer, the damp, blustery nights of fall lend themselves to heady pints of hearty ambers and rich lagers. In celebration of the season, consider turning your next dinner or get together into a tasting party as a fun way to introduce your friends to local microbrews.
Microbreweries are making their presence known to a growing consumer base, as more and more small breweries take their place alongside the big guns in beer manufacturing. This is great for those of us seeking a more sustainable lifestyle, since microbreweries are locally owned and leave a much smaller distribution footprint than mass beer manufacturers. The microbrewers I've met are also incredibly passionate about crafting deliciously unique beers and contributing new ideas to the community of craft brewers. Many small-batch breweries, like Half Acre in Chicago, offer limited and seasonal options in addition to their regular selections. On an eco-friendly note, a number of microbreweries use the growler system, which involves refilling a 64-ounce glass jug rather than purchasing a six pack.
If you're interested in hosting a microbrew tasting, many grocery, specialty food, and liquor stores carry regional beers. The following links also offer a nice jumping off point to discovering what's brewing in your neck of the woods.
(Images: Julia Brenner)