Summer is coming to an end – school has started, football season is about to begin, and the shelves at the local store are starting to fill with pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. It’s a time when our tastes start moving from light, crisp, refreshing beers to those with a bit more maltiness and warming alcohol content.
For me, I’m not sure there’s anything better than sitting outside on a cool fall evening, listening to the wind, and enjoying a beer. If you’re like me, the question becomes, “what beer should I grab.” That’s why we’ve pulled together some of our favorite lists and articles to help you enjoy the best beers for the fall season.
You may not realize it, but “Oktoberfest” or “Octoberfest,” actually starts in September, running for 17 days, and ending on the first Sunday in October. Therefore, it’s perfectly fine to break out an Oktoberfestbier in September.
Here’s my list of Top 10 Best Oktoberfest Beers, with some great fall suggestions. There’s the traditional, from Spaten to Hofbräu, to the tasty American versions from Boulevard Brewing’s Bob’s 47 Oktoberfest to Schlafly’s Oktoberfest. A couple of the more extreme, including Avery’s The Kaiser (9.73% ABV) and Coney Island Freaktoberfest (6.66% ABV) make good cool-weather warmers.
Although it’s not quite September yet, you’ve almost certainly already seen Halloween items hitting the shelves, including pumpkin beers. I also have a list of my Top 10 Pumpkin Beers to help you select from the growing selection of them. It’s hard to believe, but as little as five years ago, there were only a handful of pumpkin beers on the shelves. There are now more than ever, and they’re hitting the shelves earlier and earlier. We’ve already had a few sightings of our top pumpkin beer, Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking, as well has photos of it shipping out on the brewery’s website. There have also been several reports of our second and third rated pumpkin beers (Schlafly Pumpkin Ale and O’Fallon’s Pumpkin Beer) hitting the shelves in St. Louis, as well as New Holland’s Ichabod rolling out across the midwest. More from our list are certain to hit the shelves in the next few weeks, including Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale and Blue Moon’s Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. For great pumpkin beers to warm you up, we recommend Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin (9% ABV) and Clipper City’s Great Pumpkin (8% ABV).
Before you run right out and buy pumpkin beers this week, remember, it’s actually the spices, not the pumpkin that give this beer its flavor. Spices can be extremely tricky to preserve once they are in the beer. Brewers often initially put more spices in their beers, knowing that these flavors will fade over time. Therefore, if you buy a 6-pack of pumpkin beer, try one, and if you find the flavors a bit cloying, let rest sit for a few weeks and you might find you have yourself a great beer after the flavors fade a bit.
Enjoy the cooler weather, fall football, and these great beer options, and let us know if you’ve found any great fall beers that should be added here.