Aaaah! Fall! The crisp chill in the air. The leaves crunching underfoot. The smells of apple pie and pumpkin muffins wafting through the city streets. The warm air briefly released from the quick-closing door of the neighborhood brewery. It’s not apple pie and pumpkin muffins you smell. It’s beer, and these are the flavors of fall as defined by beer.
The Flavors of Fall
So what exactly are those flavors? And why are they so important to our psyche and ability to brave the long cold days ahead? In other words, why do we get so excited about new beer releases? In my opinion, I think it has the same thing to do with the changing of the seasons. Think about it. We’ve been drinking IPAs, pale ales, pilsners, and the like for an entire season. And those work well in the heat of summer, lazying upon a beach or as a post-ride beverage.
But as the weather takes on the crisp chill and the leaves begin to change, so do our tastes for beer. Maybe, like the bears, we’re preparing for hibernation, too. Putting on our thick winter coat to survive the short days ahead. I can’t think of a much better way to spend a cool fall day than in a cozy room surrounded by good friends and a good dark, potent beer.
A Few of the Best Fall Beers
Just for you, we’ve compiled several beers that will serve us all well as the sun wanes, the nights get cool and long, and the flavors of fall take over.
Vermont comes to mind immediately when hearing maple. That, and of course, pancakes. We can drink beer for breakfast, right?
Death by Flapjacks
English Porter @ 6%
Oskar Blues Brewery
A gulp of Death By Flapjacks hits you with a huge maple wake up call, jacked up on syrupy goodness. Smooth vanilla, lactose, and a subtle hint of nutmeg complement the honey and crystal malts in this English Porter to provide the pancake-like vehicle for massive maple flavors. The addition of fresh lemon peel gives a quick palate reset so you can take another crack at this short stack flapjack brew. (Oskar Blues)
Bakery: Sticky Bun
Imperial Stout Double Pastry @ 10.2%
Dig into this bold barrel-aged imperial stout and experience a pipin’ hot plate of liquid sticky buns in your glass. This barrel-aged imperial stout is layered with pecans, maple syrup, and just a hint of cinnamon— imitating the warming flavors of freshly-baked sticky buns. This bakery is open for business. (The Bruery)
Spice it Up
The flavors of fall are not complete without the spices that come with it. Can’t you smell them? Cinnamon, baked apples, cloves, vanilla, nutmeg. Oh, I’m drooling. Who needs apple pie when you’ve got beers like these?
Spiced Imperial Stout aged in Apple Brandy Barrels @ 12.4%
Boulevard Brewing Company
Kansas City, KS
Brandy Land is a cinnamon-infused, double-mashed imperial stout that slumbered 12 to 24 months in casks that held bourbon and apple brandy. Boasting notes of chocolate, espresso, baked apple and spiced wood, Brandy Land’s delectable blend ends with a warm, lingering finish. (Boulevard)
Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
Imperial Milk Stout with Ginger & Honey @ 9.2%
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Made with baby ginger from Casselmonte Farm and wildflower honey from Bearer Farms, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout captures the terroir of Central Virginia in a rich, creamy libation with a velvety mouthfeel and an intriguing evolution of notes from milk chocolate and vanilla, to honeycomb and cinnamon, to a snap of ginger in the finish. We hope Hardywood Gingerbread Stout contributes to your merriment this season. (Hardywood Park)
Many people seem to have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin, but fall flavors as defined by beer would not be fall flavors without pumpkin beer. Life just doesn’t work that way. Besides, the pumpkin beers chosen for you here are quite special. They might just pair very well with Grandma’s pumpkin pie.
Spiced Amber Ale Brewed with Coffee @ 7.3%
Alewerks Brewing Company
Pumpkin is made solely with fresh ingredients, spiced and baked in the oven before added to the brew. Enjoy powerful notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and more from the beer commonly described as “Pumpkin Pie in a glass.” Then, add locally-roasted coffee for a brew that would make your local barista jealous. (Alewerks)
Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale
Pumpkin Ale @ 6.1%
Pumpkin Patch Ale is made with whole pumpkins that we chop up and roast by hand. The hand roast allows us to caramelize the natural sugars exactly as we like, which when combined with a delicate balance of spices creates the signature flavor of our classic fall-themed brew. We know you’ll appreciate the effort when you taste the difference roasting real pumpkins makes. (Rogue Ales)
Fresh Hops (Wet Hops)
Fresh hop beers are exactly what the name entails. From harvest to beer, no pellets in between. The flavors from these are second to none. So while you might think your taste buds are done with IPAs for the season, think again. These beers are extremely limited, though, so here’s to you being in the right place at right time for these beautifully flavored fall beers.
Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA
Wet Hop IPA @ 6.7%
Fall is extra special to craft brewers for one delicious reason: the annual hop harvest. That’s when we travel to the Pacific Northwest for “hop selection,” which includes rubbing hops—literally smashing the cones in our palms to tease out the aromatic properties. And some hops are so magical, we just can’t wait; we skip the drying and packaging steps entirely. Northern Hemisphere IPA exclusively features Centennial hops that we pick and rush to our brew kettles the very same day. This earns it the “wet hop IPA” designation, and its vibrant notes of citrus blossom, rose, and pine are like your personal stroll through a hop field. (Sierra Nevada)
Fresh Hop Abominable Ale
Fresh Hop IPA @ 7.3%
Hopworks Urban Brewery
You’ve never tasted Abominable like this before! Fresh Hop Abominable stays true to its namesake with fresh Centennial hops that add juicy notes of pine for a perfect Pacific Northwest fresh hop ale. (Hopworks) It’s appropraitely named, as it is not seen often, so get this fresh hop beer before it’s gone.
Is it really fall without Oktoberfest beers? I think not! With a two-hundred-year party stemming from a wedding celebration, you simply gotta keep the party going. Click here to read a bit more about the history and to find a few more of your favorite Oktoberfest beers.
Märzen @ 5.27%
Brewed in true Bavarian fashion, our Oktoberfest Lager is one of our most popular seasonal releases in the fall. This Märzen-style Oktoberfest Lager uses German noble hops and four different malts to create its trademark copper color and flavor. (Frankenmuth)
Märzen at 6.5%
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Prost! Our take on this classic German style is a real malt party, packed with toasty autumnal flavors perfect for hearty hoisting. Über smooth with vibrant malt flavors and a festive flourish of noble hops (lederhosen not included). (Great Lakes)
Fall Flavors are Being Tapped Everywhere
With around 8,000 craft breweries in the U.S., there are many more beers out there that utilize these fall flavors, many of them small batch brews only available in the taproom. So when you hear of small batch releases at breweries near you, stop what you’re doing, grab your keys, and get your ass to the brewery.
Go! Now! Before they’re all gone, and you’re only stuck with…pumpkin beers!
Cheers to the beers with the fall flavors!
Get Your Lederhosen On!
Oktoberfest is fall! And with these beers, you can create your own Oktoberfest.
Where Do the Hops Come From?
Fresh hops, wet hops, packaged hops, whatever you want to call them, hops make the beer. Learn about where they come from and how they are harvested to give you the beers you love.
Start Your Holiday Traditions Now
It’s never too late to start thinking of the holidays, and why not do so with holiday traditions. We’ve got some ideas nicely planned out for you. And those pesky gifts, it’s time to start thinking of that, too. Here you go. You’re welcome.