I picked up a bottle of Redhook Late Harvest Autumn Ale at the Gretz/A-B event I attended Monday night, and decided to have it with lunch today. It poured a deep amber, with some red to it; not much foam, and the glass was beer-clean. On first taste, it was harsh, fizz-bitter, and I wasn't real happy with it. Then I got a phone call, and had to abandon lunch and beer for about ten minutes.
When I came back, the beer had warmed and was much improved. Sweet, a bit estery -- but not overdone -- some caramel, and a nice body. I enjoyed this segment of the beer much more.
Which brings up the whole craft-brewer-ale/lager-festbeer issue, eh? A number of American craft brewers do harvest/autumn/octoberfest ales...because they're ale brewers, it's what they do, but they want to have an oktoberfest seasonal, one of the best-selling types of seasonal beers (which, according to the Brewers Association, are now the biggest-selling segment of craft beer, something that has some folks wringing their hands). Is it fair, is it right? Who cares: what's it taste like? Let this one warm up a bit, and it tastes pretty good.