Seasonal Beer Primer – Fall

Fall is arguably the best season of the year. The leaves change colors and nature’s aesthetic improves drastically, the heat is gone allowing one to wear more than shorts and t-shirts, and holidays like Halloween (my personal favorite) and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. However, the true reason Fall is by far the best season of the year can be summed up in one word:  beer.

Fall means Oktoberfest, a German celebration ushering in the new season.  It’s also a two week long long period where almost all of Germany’s populous gets extremely drunk on amazing beer. Unfortunately, we’re not in Germany, so doing the same as the Germans isn’t entirely feasible (or legal). However, Oktoberfest does mean that some of our nation’s biggest breweries will be rolling out their seasonal beers, which typically fall into one of two different categories:  Oktoberfest or Pumpkin Ale.

From the end of September through mid-November, I make it a point to get my hands on as many different Fall beers before the season is over. Whether it’s an Oktoberfest or a Pumpkin Ale, I suggest you do yourself a favor and grab a six pack.  Listed below are the beers I’ve tried, and I encourage you to do the same before Winter gets here.

  1. Sam Adams Oktoberfest – I could go on about how great this is, but I think its commercial could do it more justice.
  2. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale – An absolutely delicious beer, it tastes like pumpkin pie in a bottle. Plenty of pumpkin, cinnamon, and spice flavors, but not overpowering. In my opinion, this is the best pumpkin ale out there this season.
  3. O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale – Following Schlafly, O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale is slightly less intense in flavor, but it’s a good substitute if your local store is out of Schlafly.
  4. Post Road Pumpkin Ale – Post Road’s Pumpkin Ale ranks as the least intense of the Pumpkin Ales, but it’s still a good alternative to the first two.
  5. Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat – This has been rolled out by Anheuser-Busch to replace the lackluster Jack’s Pumpkin Spice beer that rears its ugly head every Fall. It’s really not a bad non-craft beer, infinitely better than its predecessor, and has more flavor than anything you can pick up for the price.
  6. Blue Moon Harvest Moon – Similar to Shock Top, it’s a domestic Belgian White put out by a big name brewery (Molson-Coors). I wouldn’t recommend one over the other, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
  7. Southern Tier Imperial Pumking – From what I’ve read on it, it’s a very take it or leave it beer. I didn’t think it was anything too special.
This is by no means the definitive list of Fall beers. There are still quite a few beers out there that I haven’t been able to find. One that I will recommend without trying is Dogfish Head Punk’n Ale. This is the company that rolled out the 60-minute, 90-minute, and 120-minute IPAs, arguably some of the greatest beers of all time. If their seasonal is as good as their regular production, this could be an excellent fall brew. It only comes in four packs, but from what I’ve heard, it’s entirely worth it.
Keep in mind, these beers are meant to be enjoyed, not consumed at a rapid pace to reach intoxication. Buy a new six pack each week and enjoy one beer each day; you’ll appreciate it a lot more. Toward the end of the season, I recommend buying a six pack of each of your favorite beers and saving it for a few months. The flavor will mellow with time, giving you your same beer, but with an even better flavor.
Happy drinking.
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