“They start the high school football season too damned early,” I said to my wife, as we drove home after Ellet clobbered her alma mater, Springfield. “Sweating” while participating in the sacred Friday night tradition just doesn’t seem right. I feel the same about pumpkin beers. Love ‘em. But most are already out before the Labor Day weekend. So, if you’re already bored with gourds, here’s a few quality libations from some brewers who have gone out of their way to avoid the large orange orb, to both provide a salve after a 63-6 humiliation and help pass the time between the Solstice and the Equinox. Or at least until Santa shows his mug across bottle-labels all over northeast Ohio. Indigo Imp Brewery of Cleveland calls an audible with their Autumn, a seasonal ale with sweet potato and spices invading the brew-kettle. It’s cloudy-copper hue screams “fall,” but, like a two-back set on second and four, looks can be deceiving. The folks at Indigo Imp have long maintained a steamy love affair for open-fermentation, and this bottle is chock full of it. The sweet potatoes magnify the sour squelch from having the lid open. The end result is a QB end-run: it’s daring, and can go either way. I say, “If you have the tools, use ‘em.” Indigo Imp gains large chunks of yardage with a ballsy move. You’ve seen his face. Like a middle-linebacker with smoke pouring out of his facemask waiting for the snap on a frigid night, he can scare the living crap out of you. Nosferatu from Great Lakes Brewing dispenses with the chicanery. It doesn’t talk trash. It simply sets the tone by announcing, “I am an imperial red ale. Know where I am at all times. I will kick your ass.” It’s an 8%, burgundy-tinged physical specimen, using an ample supply of Simcoe hops to brutalize your tastebuds. You can’t stop it. You can only hope to contain it. Whatever you do, let The Bruery’s Autumn Maple warm up! Good and loose, like a dexterous and sinewy return-specialist. This jewel from Orange County, California has to get limber in order to weave its magic. Once it does, look out. Claiming “we don’t need pumpkins in our beer,” this Belgian-style brown ale is at first slippery and hard to pin down, with its generous dollops of yams, molasses, and maple syrup. It unleashes the same sour tones as Autumn, but this dude glides up-field in a little different direction.