It's deep autumn, and the brilliant leaves have me in the mood to sip something in unorthodox colors. What fits the chromatic bill better  than beers made with actual oranges? The combination of oranges and beer isn't as incongruous as it might appear. In fact, some beers just naturally have citrus flavors. Many of the chemicals that give oranges their distinctive flavors are terpenes, the same chemicals that create the citrus flavors in both hops and cannabis. Perhaps more importantly, our hometown hero, New England IPA, showcases the “juicy” citrus flavors of hops in a way that's primed our collective palate for the fusion of fruit and beer. Here's to autumn, and to orange beer!


Banded Brewing Orange Sorbet IPA (Biddeford, ME)

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can
ABV: 6.8%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP
Tasting Notes: Pours a glowing orange/amber with a huge pile of white foam. Aroma has pine duff and abundant orange zest. The first sip is joyous, glowing with orange zest, cake frosting and happiness. What does “happiness” taste like? Simply put, this. Forceful, herbal hops snap back at the juicy sweetness with a stiff, bitter character, balancing the sweet without dampening my childish glee in quaffing this delightful beverage. The aftertaste blends the sweetness of the fruit with the complex aromatics of the peel. This is a perfect beer to mourn the passing of summer.


Brooklyn Naranjito (Brooklyn, NY)

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
ABV: 4.5%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP
Tasting Notes: Pours a pale yellow with a thin white head. Aroma has caramel and burnt orange peel. The first sip is a wash of mellow, slightly sticky malt flavor. It's a stodgy, doughy quality — bread-like rather than refreshing. There's orange in the mix, but it's more peel than fruit. The citrus is an ephemeral suggestion of orange, rather than a visceral experience of the juice. The malty quality intrudes on this subtle citrus flavor, diluting it in a broad wash of starch. The Naranjito isn't bad, it just fails to live up the vivid orange slices and peels on the label.


Jack's Abby Blood Orange Wheat (Framingham, MA)

Format Sampled: 16 oz. capped bottle
ABV: 4.0%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP
Tasting Notes: Pours a fuzzy amber with a thin lace of white head. Aroma has pretzel dust and freshly squeezed orange juice. The first sip is thin and sweet, sticky with the flavor of ruby red grapefruit juice. Tasting partner Kyle says, “This is like beerjuice.” ("Beerjuice," dear reader, was a concoction of PBR and OJ we drank when we were young and foolish. He's right — it's not so much a beer infused with orange as it's a beer with some orange juice sloshed in.  The wheat malt adds a sweet kick to an already sweet beverage, an aftertaste of clove-laden pasta water that washes away much of the orange flavor. Served iced cold on a summer day, this would be a billion times better than beerjuice, but that's not saying much.


Seth is a beer writer, outdoor enthusiast and non-profit consultant.

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