In summer, no one argues when you hand them a frigid session IPA. In winter, everyone loves a special holiday porter. But come fall, things are a little more complicated.
There’s the pumpkin lobby that wants every beer to have at least 40 percent more gourd. Then there are the Oktoberfest purists, who believe that a true seasonal brew must adhere to German purity laws, which state that beer can be made only with hops, barley, water, and yeast. In between are those who just want something interesting.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, we’ve got you covered.
Best for Curious Palates
Great Divide Brewing Company Chai Yeti
When we heard that Colorado-based Great Divide Brewing Company planned to spike its beloved Russian imperial stout with traditional chai spices like cinnamon, green cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla, we could hardly wait to grab a pint. Thanks to a seamless blend of spice and roasted malt, it was everything we hoped for. And at 9.5 percent ABV, the Chai Yeti may even help you see its namesake mythical beast trotting through the woods during National Yeti Week, which runs from November 13 to 17.
Best for Rainy Day Drinking
BridgePort Brewing Idaho 7 Wet Hopped IPA
Native Pacific Northwesterners know there are few better ways to pass a dreary day than a bitter, hop-soaked IPA. Thanks to a heaping load of Idaho 7 hops, which are harvested just in time for fall brewing, this wet-hopped ale out of Portland, Oregon, is the perfect beverage for those rainy weeks before the first snow. But if you’re expecting subtlety, you’ve got another thing coming. Look forward to a big hit of citrus, stone fruit, and bitterness in every sip.
Best for Those Who Don’t Drink
Wellbeing’s Non-Alcoholic Craft Beers
People who don’t consume alcohol deserve great fall brews, too. That’s why we’re excited that this Missouri brewery is making 0.0 beers. Its HellRaiser Dark Amber is a British brown ale that miraculously has had all the alcohol removed without sacrificing those classic malty, chocolaty, and nutty flavors. Set to hit the market later this fall, Wellbeing’s beers can be shipped nationwide.
Best for Total Hop Heads
Drake’s Brewing Dark Wing IPA
By adding tons of Denali hops to a dark IPA, Drake’s has created a piney, herbaceous brew that’s not only dank in the best possible way, but also feels alive on your tongue thanks to an unusually high concentration of essential oils. The result is a vivacious sip that finishes with grapefruit, marmalade, and pineapple notes that perfectly balance the bitter bite.
Best for Pumpkin Devotees
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Rum Barrel Pumpkin
This is one of the best pumpkin beers we’ve come across. Sure, it has the sweet notes you’d expect from the omnipresent seasonal style, but Richmond, Virginia–based Hardywood Park has aged its version in rum barrels to even out the style with hints of oak, clove, and allspice. The final product is woody, spicy, and just about perfect.
Best for Coffee Lovers
Colectivo Cáscara Farmhouse Ale
Colectivo, a Milwaukee-based small-batch coffee roaster, is branching out into craft beer with this farmhouse ale brewed with cáscara. For the uninitiated, cáscara are the skins from coffee beans. They’re usually discarded during processing, but when added to this traditional Belgian-style brew, they imbue the yeasty, malty ale with flavors of dried fig and raisin to create a lighter alternative to the traditional coffee stout.
Best for Those Who Skip Breakfast
Payette Brewing Sunday Mourning Imperial Stout
Maple, smoke, and warm oat flavors make this filling stout the perfect breakfast alternative for those who hit the trail early. And for a 9.5 percent ABV, 60 IBU brew, the Idaho-based Payette’s Sunday Mourning is surprisingly approachable. It would also be divine swapped in for water in your pancake mix. Beer: It’s what’s for breakfast.
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