Seasonal Fall beers not only bring fresh bold flavors but also a twinge of excitement due to their relative exclusivity. The more limited the access, the more elusive the capture. Before we get to the beers though let’s briefly go through some of the corresponding popular seasonal styles that you’ll be reading about in this post.
Classic Fall Beer Styles
Oktoberfest – What beer drinker doesn’t revel with delight when hearing that glorious word ‘Oktoberfest’? There’s an undeniable bit of magic involved with this wonderful German tradition and we chronicled it in our Oktoberfest blog.
Pumpkin Beers – Pumpkin brews, of which I promise none will be referenced in the beer section below, are a unique enigma worthy of the craft enthusiast’s attention but often a hit or miss in the world of seasonal ales. Check out our ode to the mighty pumpkin and all its historical goodness and weigh in on the discussion yourself.
IPA – Great for any season, this magnificent style of beer is over 175 years old, but today’s IPAs have grown quite a bit since its inception. They tend to have a color range from murky golden all the way through to reddish amber. They are typically hop heavy and are often citrusy and/or floral on the nose. Although they are an acquired taste, when done right they have the perfect balance of bitterness and malt flavor to support the bright distinct hop flavors.
The oft disputed yet legendary IPA origin story starts in the late 1700’s with George Hodgson. As the tale goes old Georgey head of Bow Brewery was transporting brew from London to India and needed to preserve the merit of the beer so he ramped up the alcohol and hop content which ultimately led to the India Pale Ale. The brewery subsequently became heralded as a premier exporter of pale ales to India.
There are those that feel that the birth of the IPA predates Hodgson, citing reports of Pale ales from England, made by unnamed brewers being available in India as early as in 1784 nine years prior to Hodgson. They also point out that brewers were adding extra hops to beer shipped to warmer climates since the 1760’s. Despite the naysayers, the legend persists to this day.
Double IPA – These delectable brews tend to be stepped up versions of IPA’s as they generally possess higher levels of alcohol, hops and malt. Typical ABV range is 7.5 – 10%. IBU range: 60 – 120. The color spectrum ranges from an orange-copper to a Golden hue.
Stout – The American Stout is the evolution of its predecessors and runs the gambit of complexities within its own stylistic range. Some stouts are heavy on the hops, others are brewed with coffee and/or chocolate, some are even barrel aged in Bourbon or whiskey barrels. Stouts are hearty, often delicious and are ideal for the transition into the cold winter months.
Now let’s get to the brews shall we?
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen – ABV: 5.8% IBU: 21
Oktoberfest themed beers are brewed in abundance and variations of which can be found all over the world today. Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen makes a legitimate claim to being the best. It pours a golden copper; Fresh bready toasted malt and noble hops with delightful hints of vanilla on the nose. Herbal hops with hints of honey and malty toasted toffee on the tongue. Located in the shadow of the Alps in the Bavarian village of Aying, the Ayinger Privatbrauerei is nothing less than world class and the fruits of their labor are well lauded throughout the beer community.
“Top-rated – Number One of 55 Oktoberfest/Märzen Beers Blind-Tasted & Ranked,” Paste Magazine, September 13, 2016
Chicago Tribune: “Oktoberfest Pick,” September 1, 2016
“World’s Top Oktoberfest,” Ratebeer.com (Feb. 2015)
“Best Märzen and Oktoberfest Beers,” SeriousEats.com, October 2014
Top-Rated Marzen/Oktoberfest and 96 Points – Ratebeer.com, October 2014.
93 points, The Beer Connoisseur Magazine, Fall 2014.
“Best Oktoberfest Beers,” Men’s Journal Magazine, September, 2014.
“Best Fall Lager,” Paste Magazine, Oct. 5, 2013 .
Fox News – “Top-Ten Oktoberfest Beer”, Sept. 2013.
Gold Medal “Top-Rated Märzen/Oktoberfest” – World Beer Championships 2012.
Five out of Five Mugs – “Best of the fests.” Modern Brewery Age, Oct. ’11
Best International Lager – Calgary (AB) Beerfest 2009.
Gold Medal and Top-Rated Vienna/Märzen -World Beer Championships 2006.
Gold Medal – World Beer Championships 2005.
Gold Medal and “Best of 2003” – World Beer Championships 2003.
Gold Medal Vienna/Märzen – World Beer Championships 2001, 2002.
Platinum Medal & World Champion Vienna Märzen -World Beer Championships 1997.
Need we say more? Find it and drink it!
Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest – ABV: 5.0%. IBU: 24
The inspiration behind the name derives from their home town of Paso Robles meaning Pass of the Oaks, as opposed to having any oak flavor; Firestone considers this offering a proper German Märzen bier. Traditional imported malts, Pilsner and Vienna, offer a malty sweetness that combines with subtle honey-like aromas with hints of Noble hop spice on the nose. The classic German Hallertau hops originating from Bavaria, add character and balance to this brew. Oaktoberfest is available September through October.
Hop Knife by Tröegs Brewing Company – ABV of 6.20% IBU 87
For this American IPA Troegs uses a HopCyclone process to create a spiral of hop dispersal during fermentation, which they state, releases a bounty of citrus, resin and tropical aromas. This one contains Crystal, Pilsner, and Vienna Malt and is hopped with Cascade, Chinook, El Dorado and dry hopped with Centennial, Citra and Columbus. Ale yeast is also used in the recipe. It pours a rich golden amber color in the glass; Notes of Citrus on the nose, heavy on the grapefruit; Similar on the tongue with additional hints of pine and a bit of wholesome earthiness. Hop Knife is available during the Fall season.
Racer X® | Bear Republic Brewing Co. – ABV 9.3% IBU 100
Bear Republic Brewing Co. out of Cloverdale, California, only releases its big double IPA Racer X® in the fall. Per Bear Republic ‘they put a California twist on English brewing traditions by adding an assertive hop aroma and bitterness that compliments the firm malt backbone.’ This one is both liberally kettle and dry hopped with Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial. Pours a bit of hazy golden orange; Citrus, floral aromas and malt on the nose; Similar flavors on the tongue along with some pine and sweetness.
2009 California State Fair – BRONZE
2009 San Diego International Beer Competition – 2nd
2009 West Coast Beer Fest – GOLD
Founders Breakfast Stout Brewed by Founders Brewing Co. ABV: 8.3% IBU: 60
Founders sweetens a toasty Imperial stout base with bitter sweet Gibraltar milk chocolate chunks and rich Orinoco dark chocolate. They add Sumatra and Kona coffee beans, along with Nugget and Willamette hops and flaked oats to further balance out the sweetness. This is a relatively smooth and tasty stout that is available September through December.
So there you have it! 5 must drink seasonal Fall ales as hand selected by the #BTBT crew. Let us know in the comments if you’ve had any of these beers, if you’d like to recommend some, or if you just want to shoot the shit.
Photo Credits: France44.com, Firestone Walker Brewery, Founders Brewery, Bear Republic Brewing Company, Troegs Independent Brewing.
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