With the throes of fall come many things: Pumpkin spice lattés are once again ubiquitous, football season is well underway, and we've officially pulled our coats out of storage. Still, it's not winter yet—see those red leaves still trembling on the trees, and the tables and chairs awaiting you on restaurant patios?—and a whole week remains for last hoorahs before the clocks turn back.
As we ease into the chilly months, what better segue is there than beer? Whether you're hosting a tailgate or just celebrating the return of fall flavors, beer is equally at home in your food as it is a cold drink to wash everything down. So it shall be with this fall feast. That's right, folks: You can have your beer and eat it, too.
Appetizer: Beer-Steamed Mussels with Bacon
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For all their appearances on menus of quaint French bistros alongside steak frites, mussels are among the easiest dinners to cook at home. Beer mingles with bacon, shallots, and garlic for a hearty broth that makes a soup in its own right once you've made your way through all the mussels. If flannel-donning lumberjacks cooked mussels, they'd cook these.
Main Course: Grilled Bratwurst with Beer, Mustard, and Sauerkraut
Sausage like this—simmered in a concoction of lager, sauerkraut, and whole grain mustard before it's seared over the flames—would fit right in at Oktoberfest, replete with dirndls and braüs. We can think of few better reasons to fire up the grill one last time before it goes into hibernation.
Side: Bacon, Onion, and Cheddar Beer Bread
Beer lends fizz and yeasty flavor to this quick bread, while bacon and cheddar turn it into, well, bacon-cheddar bread. No-brainer. For extra brownie points, serve with melty beer cheese or spicy beer mustard, or squirrel it away to make savory French toast the next morning.
Dessert: Beer Caramel Ice Cream
Gilding the lily that is salted caramel ice cream, pale ale manages to lighten the rich ice cream custard while also rounding out and deepening its flavor. This is what ice cream aspires to be when it grows up.
Drink: Coked-Up Monk
Take a Coca-Cola and a Flemish sour, then throw in vermouth, frothy egg white, and requisite whiskey, and this is what you get. The only thing better than shouting out this cocktail's name is actually drinking it.