From Pumpkins to Oktoberfest, How to Celebrate Fall with Beer
Time might feel hazier than your favorite New England IPA this year, but according to the calendar and the dropping temperatures, fall is upon us. Yes, this means an end to beach days and barbecues for now, but it also means crisp and colorful leaves; various pumpkin, apple, and maple-flavored treats; flannel and sweaters; farm trips; and spooky Halloween vibes. Maybe it’s because peak fall is shorter than summer or winter, but there’s something about autumn that just feels extra exciting and special.
One of the best ways to celebrate this time of year is to literally drink it all in. The range of options in the autumnal beer category is always growing. Fall is so much about flavor, and just as you might perfect a fall morning with a pumpkin coffee and a fall afternoon with a hot apple cider, you can perfect a fall evening with a similarly delicious brew.
The fact that the selection is getting more and more varied is a good thing, too, because “fall beer” used to either mean only Oktoberfest-appropriate styles or pumpkin beer. And, let’s be honest, pumpkin beer is divisive. What is it about pumpkins, perhaps the most festive and cheerful of all the fruits, that can spark such heated debate? The pumpkin spice latte became the symbol of all thing “basic,” even though plenty of people just enjoy a warm and caffeinated beverage that tastes like autumn (and sometimes kind of like candy). Then the pumpkin squabblers turned their attention to pumpkin beer: some people love it, some people hate it, and it seems there are few in the middle.
We love all beers at TapRm, and want all beer drinkers to be happy. So, we’ll admit, we’re pretty proud of our fall beer selection. There’s truly something for everyone, so no beer fan is left out of the autumn fun.
Let’s just grab the pumpkin by the stem here, shall we? Pumpkin beers = fall. But not every pumpkin beer fan wants the same level of pumpkin punch. As promised, we’ve got you covered.
For those who are all in on pumpkin: Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale
We see you. You anxiously await the first official day of fall so you can add a farm or bodega pumpkin outside your front door, start Googling pumpkin recipes to try baking, and break out the pumpkin coffee. You want your seasonal obsession to extend to your imbibing. Meet the Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale. Cracking open this bottle is like opening the oven door on Thanksgiving: fresh-baked pumpkin and apple pies. The sweetness of pumpkin and pie crust are tempered by spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, which add to the dessert character but also keep this beer firmly out of cloying territory. Pie can only dream of being so refreshing.
For picky pumpkin-eaters: Five Boroughs Co. Pumpkin Ale
You love pumpkin flavors, but only if they’re far from too sweet. Pumpkin spice lattes have gone too far, in your opinion. You want to enjoy this cozy fall flavor, but it has to be balanced and can’t be heavy. Enter: the Pumpkin Ale from Five Boroughs Brewing Co. This beer’s blend of spices and malts nail that warm pumpkin pie magic, but a subtle, earthy hop charge cuts through with a perfect amount of refreshing bitterness. Finally, you can have your pumpkin and drink your hoppy beer, too.
For pumpkin newbies: Good Nature Pumpkin Brown Ale
Pumpkin mania makes you cringe, and you think that pumpkin ales might stray too far from beer in its purest form. But you have a sneaking suspicion that a pumpkin brew done well could be the definition of craft beer--after all, it’s like brewing a fruit beer--and you have to admit that you’re curious as to what all the fall-obsessed fuss is about. The best entry point for pumpkin brews is to have a beer that stands on its own as a distinct style, but then has a bit of pumpkin flavor. We submit for your consideration: the Good Nature Pumpkin Brown Ale. This beer already has a brown ale’s clean and drinkable form of nutty, chocolatey, caramel balanced by a hint of hop character and a medium body. Then Good Nature autumn-ified it with fire-roasted, spiced pumpkin. Complex yet easy-drinking, this may be your new fall go-to.
You don’t have to love pumpkin to appreciate a good fall dessert situation. There are plenty of other flavors to treat yourself to.
For straightforward stout enthusiasts: Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery Black is Beautiful Stout
As it happens, fall is the perfect time to enjoy the flavors of a classic stout, the beer style chosen by Weathered Souls Brewing for the Black is Beautiful collaboration. The stouts made by different breweries warm the tastebuds with their roasty coffee and chocolate notes, and warm the soul with their mission to raise funds and awareness for social justice and for victims of police brutality. We love Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery’s offering. LCCB stayed close to Weathered Souls’ original recipe, and the end result boasts iconic stout-ness with the added delight of roasted coffee, rich cacao, creamy vanilla, and caramel toffee.
For those in search of the drinkable cozy factor: The Virginia Beer Company Elbow Patches Oatmeal Stout
Not to get all sappy commercial-for-fall on you, but admit it: there’s something so this season and so appealing about hunkering down next to a window with a view of some foliage (whether it’s the woods behind your house or that one lonely tree on your busy Brooklyn block) and something to eat or drink that warms you up right to your core. So, how do you translate that to your favorite beverage, beer?
The Virginia Beer Company Elbow Patches Oatmeal Stout is a beer that comforts. It’s hearty while maintaining its drinkability, and its velvety mouthfeel helps you settle into a nice, relaxing afternoon or night. Notes of chocolate and coffee satisfy any dessert craving without even coming close to overdoing it, instead striking a sublime balance between roasty and sweet.
As much as fall is about pumpkins and spice and everything nice, it’s also about celebrating the tradition of German beer. The end of September into the start of October signals the time for one of the world’s favorite shindigs all in the name of beer, Oktoberfest. That means that iconic German styles and modern iterations are quintessential autumn. These classics are a nice contrast to pumpkin ales and stouts, a way to keep things light and crushable.
For revelers looking to “Prost!” light and easy: Surly Brewing Company Oktoberfest
The Märzen is the original fall beer. Starting in 16th-century Germany, brewers would make this kind of beer with leftover ingredients toward the end of spring and cellar it until the beginning of fall, popping it open in time for Oktoberfest. The märzen has been replaced by a strong, golden Helles at the actual Oktoberfest in Munich, but it’s still most commonly associated with the German fall celebration around the world today.
The märzen is malty and toasty with a foliage-like amber hue, but it’s clean, light, and crisp, so that it’s an easy-drinking take on fall flavors. Surly Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest take nails what’s so simply great about this iconic style, offering a fresh and crushable take on fall imbibing at its most traditional.
For beer traditionalists: Wild East Brewing Co. Moon Atlas Czech-Style Amber Lager
Wild East Brewing Co. brews its beers with time-honored European methods, making it a destination for drinkers who love a little history in their glass. The Moon Atlas Czech-Style Amber Lager might not be German, but its clean and crisp toastiness fits right in with Oktoberfest-appropriate styles. It’s totally fall but totally crushable. Offering just a hint of modern attitude to this long beloved Czech style, the Moon Atlas balances notes of bread crusts and light caramel with earthy, herbal hops.
For those seeking the highway to Helles: Mayflower Brewing Company’s Ottobahn LagerTo enjoy a lighter version of today’s official Oktoberfest style in Munich, try the Ottobahn Helles-style lager from Mayflower Brewing Company. Helles lagers are a seminal German beer style, providing the clean lightness of lagers with hints of grainy sweetness and earthy hops. Mayflower applies this masterful equation to their own pitch-perfect iteration for a beer that manages to blend spice, floral notes, sweetness, and dryness in a crisp and drinkable way. At 5% ABV, the Ottobahn is a great choice for your own personal Oktoberfest revelry.