As I’ve said before, autumn might be my absolute favorite season of the year. Granted, I’m one of those “Half-Full” folks who can usually, unless under major duress (salute), find the upside to pretty much anything. (Cold, nasty, rainy day = excuse to cuddle with a cup of tea and a good book under a wool blanket? Yes please!) And that optimism does extend to the seasons. Winter? SNOW! Summer? No shoes, no problems. Spring? Flowers, flowers, everywhere. It’s all good.
But oh, fall — with your pumpkin-flavored goodies (like this, and these), your infusions of nutmeg and sage, and your crispy-cold mornings — you, sir, are my favorite. What better way to celebrate your arrival than with a tall, frothy glass of seasonal beer? Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: The Best of Fall Seasonal Brews! (In my humble, semi-decently-informed opinion.)*
*NOTE: I might be biased, for a variety of reasons. But, in my defense, I drink a lot of beer. **
**In, you know, the highly respectable fashion that one would expect from a woman who educates the future of America.
Best Pumpkin Ale: Saranac Pumpkin Ale * Matt Brewing Company, Utica, NY
Why? Its blend of allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon is no stranger to any pumpkin brew, but Saranac’s grinning jack-o-lantern logo belies an intensely pumpkin-y, richly spiced ale. While I’m personally of the mindset that you really can’t go wrong with pumpkin beer (Um, pie and brewski combined? Yeah … stick a fork in me, baby.), Saranac’s version is downright divine.
Know what else is good? Blue Moon’s Pumpkin Ale, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, and Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head.
Best “Bigtime Brew” Fall Beer: Samuel Adams Octoberfest * The Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA
Why? While a lot of the nation’s mainstream breweries (And I do, at this point in its popularity, consider Sam Adams to be somewhat mainstream. It’s still good! Calm down, hipsters!) offer different seasonals, the Sam Adams Octoberfest is pheee-nomenal. I anxiously await this lovely Marzen’s arrival in the grocery store / liquor store / Trader Joe’s, and when it arrives, I hoard it like a feline hoards the ‘nip. Medium-dark, lively flavors, and that gorgeous amber color in my glass? Done and done.
Know what else is good? Sam Adams Hazel Brown (Mmmmm).
Best “Lesser-Known” Fall Brew: Shiner Oktoberfest * Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
Why? Welp, I did live in Texas. Aside from that, however, is the sheer tastiness of Shiner’s Oktoberfest. While this Lone Star State brand is most famous for its classic Bock (and the feisty ram on its label), the Oktoberfest is, I think, the brewery at its best: simple and complex, flavorful and mighty fine. This Marzen / Oktoberfest-style brew is my favorite addition to any fall party’s beer cooler.
Know what else is good? Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale by Sierra Nevada, Red Hoptober Ale by New Belgium, Breckenridge Brewery Autumn Ale (slightly Marzen and stout-esque)