Snow has begun falling throughout the Northeast, and along with the flaky precipitation the temperatures have started to drop too. Just in time for the holiday season, the lighter summer ales have been swapped out in favor of malty robust porters and stouts. While it is still far too early in the season to start getting “stir crazy”, it is certainly not to early to look for some of the best seasonal beers. While generally the word “seasonal” attached to beer makes me cringe, every November Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield, MA releases their Cabin Fever Ale. It’s the perfect brew to get you through the colder darker days and a brew for which I have fond memories of.
Berkshire Brewing has been a mainstay in Massachusetts since first opening in the fall of 1994. Over the years, they have steadily produced favorites such as Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale, Dean’s Beans Coffeehouse Porter, and a strong selection of seasonal beers that one can rely on year after year. Berkshire Brewing also offers a Raspberry Barleywine and their festive Holidale during the winter months, but Cabin Fever Ale is the first I snatch up every year. Cabin Fever is a beer I first enjoyed after a long cold day spent outdoors during my senior year of college. At the time I was still discovering the vast and wonderful world of craft beer. This beer has withstood the test of time and the challenge of many beers that it has been compared to.
Cabin Fever is a well-balanced ale that is not syrupy and not overly spiced. A common complaint of mine when it comes to winter beers is over spicing. What this beer does have is a strong toasty malt base with a palatable amount of rich caramel flavors to accompany a nice, slightly fruity cherry finish, as well as a bit of earthy spice from the Tettnang hops used. The beer itself is not overly heavy and it is easy to work your way through a 22Oz bottle. The 6.3% ABV is respectable while not being overwhelming, but strong enough to keep you toasty on a cold day. This is not a beer seeking to push any boundaries and won’t shock you in any way, but is a fundamentally solid beer. It speaks volumes when you can keep going back to the same beer despite the sheer amount options out there and Cabin Fever keeps me coming back year after year. Cabin Fever is the perfect break once the days get shorter, colder, and everyone starts to get just a bit stir crazy.
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