Ah, Fall. For me, it’s easily the best time of the year. Not only does it offer the best range of temperatures (in my opinion), but it also means football is back, sweatpants are acceptable – oh, and the beer gets really good. Gone are the fruity wheats and saisons; in are pumpkin ales and Oktoberfests. If they could concoct the smell of a fall bonfire into a beer and sell it in cans – that’s all I would drink during this time of year – but they can’t, so they made some pretty decent alternatives instead.
So, below is my list of some of my favorite fall beers – I tried to make it as encompassing as possible, but I’m sure you’ll have some favorites that you don’t see on the list. And that’s great, because the fall period offers some of the best seasonal beer varieties around; so soak it in, drink up, and enjoy. Oh – and I hope you like Oktoberfest’s – because the list below makes it clear that I do.
In no particular order…
- Great Lakes Oktoberfest
- Stats: 6.5% ABV, 20 IBU
- Thoughts: I’ve had a few varieties from Great Lakes Brewing but this one might be my favorite. Their Oktoberfest is extremely smooth and easy to drink – it has a solid base of malt sweetness that comes through almost instantly and is finished off with a bit of hops that make it a well-rounded beer. I also love the labeling on the bottle. This one is a must try.
2. New Glarus Staghorn Oktoberfest
- Stats: 6.25% ABV
- Thoughts: If you could bottle a Wisconsin bonfire coupled with a haunted hayride – this is the beer you would get. Staghorn
hits all of the notes of a great Bavarian-style Oktoberfest – the rich malt notes, spiced amber body and smooth finish makes this beer a must-try. And true to New Glarus’ roots, Staghorn is made with Midwest barley to make sure the beer you’re drinking is as close to its Wisconsin roots as possible. If you’re lucky
enough to find this beer on Wisconsin shelves, buy it – and then go to a bonfire.
3. Dryhop Sheeps Go to Heaven EPA
- Stats: 5.4% ABV
- Thoughts: While this one isn’t necessarily a Fall-inspired beer, it’s still a new seasonal that blew me away when I had it last weekend. This Extra Pale Ale has the familiar hop bitterness that Dry hop has grown to be known for, but it’s the really rich creamy mouthfeel and light kicks of fruit aftertaste that really sets this beer apart. It’s available in crowlers and growlers at DryHop – and I highly recommend you grab a taste before it’s gone.
4. Southern Tier Pumking
- Stats: 8.6% ABV
- Thoughts: No list of fall beers is complete without a solid pumpkin style beer, and there are few pumpkin ales on the market better than Pumking. Not only does it have a great name and labeling, but the beer itself is one of the most memorable I have had. From the first taste to the last, your taste buds are engorged with pumpkin flavor – it’s basically like Sleepy Hollow in a bottle. The finish is nice and clean, with a bit of spiced bite that makes you come back for more. Pumking is not a beer that I’m going to drink at every sitting, but if I’m in the mood for pumpkin ales, this is the first one I grab.
5. Sam Adams Oktoberfest
- Stats:5.3% ABV, 16 IBU
- Thoughts: Now this one might raise a few eyebrows. Although Sam Adams is definitely more macro than micro at this point, they still make some really solid, no-frills beers that are enjoyable to drink and can be found at a reasonable price point. Their Ranger IPA is one I like, and their Oktoberfest always has a spot in my fridge during Fall. The beer has all of the standard flavors you expect with an Oktoberfest, but it’s the spice and smokiness that stand out and make it a solid choice for a newer beer drinker who is just dipping their toe in the muddled waters of Oktoberfest goodness.
So – those are my top five beers that I’ll be drinking this fall. You can see I’m going heavy on the Oktoberfests this year, mostly because I find that there are so many good options to choose from. If you like the list, have some suggestions or just think it’s plain wrong, feel free to comment or ask me a question on Twitter. And with football season on the way, expect a tailgating beer article coming soon. Cheers!
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