Dark Horse Brewing
If you're going to do a five-month series of stouts to get folks through cold Michigan winters, the fall stouts are going to set the pace. While the October One Oatmeal Stout is certainly serviceable, November's Two Cream Stout uses milk sugar (lactose) for a creamy texture while blending in hints of chocolate and roasted malt. Though it's an incredibly sweet stout that tastes like adult Halloween candy, the Two Cream Stout packs an 8% ABV wallop that should make drinkers wary. Those four packs are best sipped through Thanksgiving dinner, not pounded during a pre-Thanksgiving homecoming party. Velvet Merlin
Firestone Walker Brewery
Paso Robles, Calif. If you haven't gotten the message yet, this is a great time of year for oatmeal stouts. That's because hops aren't all that's being harvested around this time of year. Fresh oats help give this sumptuous Oatmeal Stout a bit of a kick at 5.5% alcohol but also contribute a bit to the espresso and cocoa aroma. Much like the far more subtle Guinness stout, this has a creamy texture that makes it easily quaffable and just enough hop bitterness to give it some bite. Unlike weaker stouts, though, Velvet Merlin is jammed with dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor that makes it an ideal pairing for richer fall foods. Our apologies to folks east of Colorado, for whom this magical Merlin will be a much tougher find. Big Sound Scotch Ale
Cigar City Brewing
Tampa, Fla. The average high October temperature in Tampa is in the mid- to upper-80s. Do they know it's fall? Maybe not, but if it means throwing beer conventions out the window and just messing around in the brewery this time of year, who cares? Cigar City releases this Scottish Ale in September alongside its imperial pumpkin ale. While its gourd-flavored stablemate is more seasonally appropriate, Big Sound fits in just fin with its dark sweet toffee flavor, coffee aroma and hints of toasted bread and cherry throughout. The weather may indicate Jimmy Buffett and Coronas, but a 750-milliliter bottle of Big Sound is bagpipes and brown ale all the way. Moonglow Weizenbock
Downington, Pa. Of all the American craft beer that's supposedly based on German brewing tradition around this time of year, Moonglow's one of few that tastes like it. Right up front, Weizenbock kicks you in the nose with fruit and spice similar to what you'd smell in a German doppelbock such as Aventinus. Fans of light, refreshing summer wheat beers may need to acclimate to their darker, more potent summer cousin. There's still a bit of citrus in this beer's flavor, but its 8.7% ABV is much meaner than this beer looks. Settle in, warm up and stick around a while. This Bavarian-style brew is bringing the heat. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.