by Brandon Mercer

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Fall and beer are perfect pairs, and while I love pumpkin beers, and coffee beers, and spiced beers, Anchor Steam’s BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red was my first time sampling a maple beer.

Why was I a maple-beer virgin?

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I detest that sickly-sweet plastic bottle maple syrup I grew up with on my Eggo waffles, and the last thing I wanted to savor on a crisp autumn evening was sickly-sweet syrup-beer. No problem here.

This is no sickly sweet syrup beer.

And, as someone who enjoys Anchor Steam but often thinks their beers could ratchet up their flavors a notch or two, this one really delivers! A 6% ABV helps, making this a stronger ale.

It’s a brilliantly crafted pairing of opposite flavors — an oxymoronic concoction of alcoholic excellence.

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Anchor Steam’s solution? Hops. When in doubt, add hops (Nelson Sauvin hops in the brewkettle and a blend of Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping, to be precise). And…. just enough of a maple flavor.

They write on their website, “Bigleaf maple sugaring in California dates to the 1800s; yet this tree’s unusually flavorful syrup remains the product of a small group of hobbyists. A hint of maple—including bigleaf maple—syrup in every brew perfectly complements the malty complexity, balanced hoppiness, and rich fall hue of BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red™, a red ale like no other.”

Malts include two caramel malts and pale malt for a very balanced beer.

No syrup flavor. Nothing too obviously sweet. Just a little of the rich deep vanilla and tree sap notes of maple to temper the hops. Think of a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar in your perfect espresso. Just enough to take the edge off.

The Red Ale works, not only because red ales are so often a harbinger of autumn

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