Autumn has always been known as harvest season, and all of the fresh vegetables and grains have created the additional bonus of fall seasonal beers. This began in Germany hundreds of years ago, and it was marked with a celebration we have all come to know as Oktoberfest. Today, microbreweries across the country have developed their own takes on what a fall seasonal beer should be, and we have put together a list of the top 25 beers that will be available in 2015.
1. Festbier – Victory Brewing Co.
Victory Brewing is known for crafting some of the hoppiest beers in the United States, but for Festbier, the hops have been reduced and replaced with a whole-cone German variety, and the malt is imported from Vienna and Munich.
2. Great’er Pumpkin – Heavy Seas Brewing Co.
The first of many pumpkin beers on this list is much more complex than the average because it is aged in bourbon oak barrels. It has a rich, orange color and gives off the aromas of abundant spices, including clove, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.
3. Oktoberfest – Ninkasi Brewing Co.
For this fall seasonal, Ninkasi has blended a generous amount of Pacific Northwest hops with toasted malts to craft a unique Bavarian-style lager, but be careful because it has a slightly higher alcohol content than most other fall beers.
4. Oktoberfest – Odell Brewing Co.
Odell Brewing Co. in Colorado is known for its Scottish ale, but the brewery also makes a delicious Oktoberfest brewed with noble hops and Munich malts. The beer pours a delightful golden color, and it has a sweet and spicy aroma.
5. Pumpkinfest – Terrapin Beer Co.
Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Georgia has one of the best fall seasonals in the South. It has a well-balanced taste that includes spiced pumpkin, but it does not overwhelm the senses like some others do.
6. Pumpkin Down – Ballast Point Brewing Co.
The name of this beer was inspired by the Mike Myers comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer, and just as Myers is known for his Scottish accent in Shrek, this beer is like a blend of Scottish ale and American pumpkin beer.
7. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Pumking is brewed in Lakewood, New York, and it is one of the first pumpkin beers to be released in the U.S. However, it is important to note that this is an imperial pumpkin ale, and its ABV is uncharacteristically high at 8.6 percent.
8. GordgeousPumpkin Ale – NoDa Brewing Co.
Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Gordgeous is full of fresh pumpkin and an abundance of spices, including cloves, cardamom, and allspice. It is also crafted with a generous amount of brown sugar and a dash of shaved ginger.
9. Oro de Calabaza – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Although the brewer is Jolly Pumpkin, this ale contains absolutely no fall squash. Instead, it is an artisanal version of a style of beer originating in France known as Biere de Garde, which has a Champagne-like flavor.
10. Ichabod Pumpkin Ale – New Holland Brewing Co.
Ichabod Pumpkin Ale is light on the alcohol, making it a great session ale for the season, and New Holland Brewing must be doing something right because this beer has been brewed for 18 consecutive years.
11. Harvest – Long Trail Brewing Co.
Long Trail is located in Vermont, and Harvest Barn is a mild brown ale that has a low ABV. It hits the nose with nutty hints of maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar.
12. Pecan Harvest Ale – Abita Brewing Co.
Pecan Harvest Ale is brewed with a combination of four malts, which are then combined with a moderate amount of Willamette hops. Freshly harvested, roasted pecans are then added to create a perfectly balanced flavor.
13. Seasonal Creep – Cigar City Brewing
Seasonal Creep is like no other pumpkin ale brewed today. It is an imperial ale that includes not only pumpkin but also chocolate, which it makes it a rich, creamy delight. It is dark red in color, and you can pick out flavors of cinnamon, clove, orange, and marshmallow.
14. Harvest Pumpkin Ale – Samuel Adams
In the fall, this Massachusetts brewery releases a pumpkin ale that is heavy on the pumpkin, yet it remains incredibly drinkable. Although it carries notes of apple and cinnamon, they definitely take a back seat to the primary flavor.
15. Noble Chaos – Short’s Brewing Co.
Noble Chaos is an Oktoberfest beer that cannot be compared to others. The taste is extremely complex with hints of chocolate, caramel and citrus combined with scorched sugar and maple syrup, and the aroma is one of toasted marshmallows.
16. Pumpkin Ale – Schlafly Beer
This pumpkin ale has a bright copper hue and is brewed with pumpkin, a blend of spices and several malts, including pale, crystal, Munich, wheat and chocolate. This is a very smooth beer, but it has an 8 percent ABV.
17. Out of Your Gourd – Redhook Ale Brewery
This is a pumpkin porter out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, made with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Although it has a chocolatey flavor, a dash of maple syrup is added to make it truly unique.
18. The Great Pumpkin – Elysian Brewing
Elysian Brewing not only offers three different pumpkin ales each fall but also hosts the annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival in Seattle. This offering is the brewery’s imperial pumpkin ale. It has a deep copper color and uses Magnum hops.
19. Grateful Harvest – Harpoon Brewery
This fall seasonal is amber in color and has a rich malt character combined with locally harvested cranberries, giving it a light sweetness. In addition, $1 dollar from each six-pack sale is donated to local food banks.
20. Punk’In Drublic – Coronado Brewing Co.
Although the name of this beer derives from a hardcore punk album from NOFX, it has earned a spot of its own among fall seasonal beers. This West Coast imperial pumpkin ale is brewed with Nugget hops, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey.
21. Autumn Maple – The Bruery
Autumn Maple is brewed in Orange County, and it puts an interesting spin on traditional fall seasonals by substituting pumpkin with yam. In addition to the yam, it includes molasses, maple syrup, vanilla and many other traditional fall spices.
22. Oktoberfest – Great Lakes Brewing Co.
This Oktoberfest beer is a true homage to the classic Bavarian Marzen style, which is the original Oktoberfest. The only differences are that it has a little more biscuit flavor and slightly more alcohol at 6.5 percent.
23. Dark Penance – Founders Brewing Co.
Dark Penance is an imperial black ale, which makes it stand out from the crowd. The aroma carries notes of licorice and cranberry while the flavor has hints of espresso beans, chocolate, and rich, biscuit malt. Although the beer is sweet, it is balanced with a roasted nut finish.
24. Autumn Ale – Breckenridge Brewery
The primary flavor of this fall ale comes from the liberal amount of oats used in the brewing process. It has a taste of coffee, chocolate and caramel with a smoky molasses finish that is perfect for drinking around a campfire.
25. Northern Hemisphere Harvest – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
The final fall seasonal is a refreshing change of pace in that it is an IPA rather than a pumpkin beer or Oktoberfest. This wet hop IPA is crafted from freshly harvested hops, Cascade and Centennial from Yakima Valley, that has not had a chance to dry.