One of the greatest things about fall along with football, leaf piles and apple cider is the stable of fall seasonal beers available. Honestly the multitude of pumpkin and spiced beers on the market can be a bit overwhelming so we tasked our writers with coming up with a fall beer preview. Here’s the variety of fall samplings they came up with.
The Bruery’s Autumn Maple
Tired of the traditional pumpkin beer? The Bruery has taken a fresh outlook on the style. The Autumn Maple is a Belgian-style strong brown ale that is brewed with 17 lbs of yams per barrel. Maple syrup, molasses, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla and the Bruery’s own house Belgian yeast strain round out the complex flavor profile. Clocking in at 10% ABV, Autumn Maple has a great warming affect for a cool fall night. This beer sits perfectly between the turkey and the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day.
Southern Tier Pumking
The King of pumpkin beers is here and, no, it is not brewed by Budweiser. Southern Tier Pumking is an imperial pumpkin ale that is brewed with gobs of pureed pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This beer is sweet and warming (thanks, 8.6 % ABV), with full-on pumpkin-pie flavors—whipped cream and all—balanced by a finishing jolt of bitter hops. For an extra added twist, take Pumking and mix equal parts with your favorite chocolate stout (i.e. Southern Tier Chokolat or Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti) to create the perfect holiday sipper.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Dogfish Head’s Punkin might be one of the most well done pumpkin beers on the market Initially you’re hit with a complex profile of spices, including cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar and nutmeg. The pronounced pumpkin flavor hits immediately afterwards and also brings a bit of heat. What really makes Punkin stand out is the complexity of flavors. It is a must have addition for any fall collection.
Sierra Nevada Tumbler
It’s likely that Tumbler was the first fall beer you saw in your local liquor store. Sierra Nevada always seems to get a jump on other breweries with their seasonal selections. Tumbler doesn’t exactly scream “Fall Seasonal,” though. Not a bad thing, as I think this beer would fit in quite well with the year-round Sierra Nevada lineup. I had no problem drinking this on a 90 plus degree day, just as I’d have no problem with it on a mercilessly cold 20 degree below zero day. There’s a lot going on with this beer—subtle chocolate, caramel and citrus notes, as well as a notable lack of hoppy flavor. This will serve as a great option when all of the other major fall releases start to run together in your head.
Avery Brewing Company: Rumpkin
We’ve all had nights when our friends have been further along in evening festivities mode than we were. Typically, I would recommend turning to a shot or two of nice bourbon to start the rally. However, if you were in the mood for a potent beer that didn’t sacrifice taste, Dr. Chan would have to prescribe a bottle of Avery’s Rumpkin (I’m not actually a doctor; prescription not valid at any actual pharmacy).
Rumpkin is a pumpkin ale aged in rum barrels, spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Basically the beer form of sugar and spice and everything nice. The pumpkin flavors aren’t as pronounced but you can definitely taste the sweetness and potency of the rum. Oh yeah, it’s 15.9% ABV. In case you had forgotten, Avery is known for their big beers. And this one is huge.
New Belgium Red Hoptober
This fall there were several things that I was really looking forward to: football, fantasy football, Kentucky football, then–after last weekend’s performance—Kentucky basketball, the new Avett Brothers album, the new Mumford and Sons album, and New Belgium’s Hoptober. The reason for my eager anticipation is because this is a perfect fall beer. Balanced but prominently present maltiness, crisp but not overwhelming hoppy finish, and smooth going down. This is perfect for post-work unwinding or for around the campfire as its logo so accurately depicts. This year’s batch certainly did not disappoint.
Sam Adams Oktoberfest
Octoberfest screams autumn, and rightly so! The first sip I took evoked images of sitting at home in front of a fire. It’s not at all pumpkin-y like other fall beers, and has a rich, hearty flavor due to the five roasted malts they use to make this lager. They also include Bavarian Noble hops in the mix, so it’s not too sweet, but not too bitter either. This beer is highly carbonated, and is a great transition from the light beers of hot summer days to the heavier beers of chilly winter nights. If you’re looking for pairings, their website suggests foods like French Onion Soup, Roasted Chicken or Turkey, Bratwurst (perfect for game day!), Pot Roast, and Ribs, among other things. I’m personally excited to try a glass with my Crisp Lamb Wraps
Blue Point Brewing Pumpkin Ale
It’s low-key, lightly sweetened and has a feather finish of nutmeg and cinnamon that works well with the pumpkin flavor. There’s just enough to let you know the spices are there without making you feel like you’re drinking a Yankee Candle. The Pumpkin Ale was a nice change of pace given my aversion to fruit infused brews, and I may just get this one again. Admittedly, there was no coriander-induced heaving or sweet surfeit bellyache. There was no subsequent sugar coma. It was really quite good, which leads me to BPB Pumpkin Ale’s biggest weakness, or at least its biggest point of contention: the flavor isn’t that strong. Now, for me, this is a bonus, but the matter can be a delicate issue. Typically, people who like their dessert beers like them because they’re, well, dessert-y. So, while I enjoyed the brew, it may leave someone seeking a sugar high unsatisfied.
Lakefront Pumpkin Lager
Lakefront lagers this beer for four weeks, yielding a deep, smooth beer that no pumpkin ale can match. Intense cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and candied yam give this beer a medium to full body, and finishes with a swift toffee tease, all while keeping a nutty toasted wheat flavor on your palate. Caramel and Munich hops really balance the pumpkin and spices with a caramel sweetness, yielding a complex and delicious beer. This well spiced pumpkin variety is one of the best on the market and if it’s available you should definitely give it a try.