Autumn is upon us, and while that means turning leaves and chilly weather to some, for beer drinkers it signals the arrival of Oktoberfest and seasonal fall brews. Originally crafted to celebrate the beginning of German brewing season, these beers also mark the beginning of the harvest. It should come as no surprise that Oktoberfest lagers such as Märzen and Belgian-style beers like trippels and farmhouse ales are some of the most prevalent types of beer during fall months. In fact, Leinenkugel’s brews its own Märzen: Leinie’s Oktoberfest. In addition to lagers, porters, stouts, dark ales, winter ales, Imperial ales (pumpkin in particular), fresh hop and wet hopped ales are also sought after this time of year. In fact, fall beers are the most popular of all seasonal styles, even putting IPAs on the backburner.
Oktoberfest and tradition aside, fall seasonal beers have long been incredibly successful because they simply feel “right.” Their flavors, aromas and mouthfeel simply complement autumn days and nights. Flavors of pumpkin, toasted malt, sweet yet herbal hop notes, , caramel, ginger, cinnamon, spice, sugar, vanilla, allspice, clove, cardamom and chocolate pair well not only with seasonal dishes but with the feel of the crisp weather. Lingering notes of bourbon, brown sugar, maple syrup and warm sweetness are comforting in the fall. Hazy hues and aromas that are citrusy not bitter, piney but not woody and earthy but not musty tie everything together, inviting all of us to gather around a fire pit with family and friends, toasting the changing of the season.
One seasonal fall ale that gets it right is Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale. At 5.7% ABV, it’s a sessionable, medium-bodied autumn ale with an enticing aroma featuring notes of allspice, clove and nutmeg. The taste starts out with assertive malty notes, but is quickly balanced with the right amount of harvest spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Even with the complex flavors and malty depth, Harvest Pumpkin Ale finishes smoothly with a clean malt and spice taste. .
A refreshing departure from the dark, Imperial and farmhouse ales typical of August, September and October releases, Leinenkugel’s Harvest Patch Shandy takes fall seasonal beer in an unexpected but rewarding direction. Those who are searching for a break from heavy, bitter or higher ABV brews will appreciate this refreshing alternative. Harvest Patch Shandy is a crisp, refreshing Weiss beer blended with natural pumpkin spice flavor which gives you notes of nutmeg, allspice and clove with an effervescent mouthfeel and a sweet pumpkin pie finish. it’s perfect for warm fall days and cooler night and pairs well with traditional fall and Thanksgiving dishes.
Fall is the time of year to experiment with different styles, flavors, food pairings and brands. Whether you’re looking for a traditional Oktoberfest ale, a pumpkin-forward beer or a departure from the norm in a shandy, grab a glass or a stein and enjoy. Prost!