For every beautiful season, there’s an equally beautiful microbrew. And these craft beers pair perfectly with pennant races and chilly temps—guaranteed.
Macey Hall 1 / 9
Fall has arrived: You’re busting out the warmer layers. You’re spending weekends tailgating and watching football. And while you automatically change up your wardrobe and your social calendar for the season, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be changing up your beer of choice as well.
Because while summer is a time of pale ales and citrus notes, fall answers with pumpkin-flavored brews, darker ales, and—best of all—fresh hop beers. “You’re in harvest season, so there are fresh hops available,” says Joe Tracy, of Bierkfraft, a Brooklyn store that boasts more than 1,000 beers that rotate seasonally. “These beers only come out once a year, and they’re best consumed fresh.”
In other words: Try to get your hands on one of these fall beers—Tracy and other beer connoisseurs help us count down the top eight—and drink up…immediately.
Founders Brewing Co. - Harvest Ale
Michigan, Est. Calories: 195, ABV: 6.50%
Made by Founders Brewery out of Michigan, this fresh hop brew, which is hazy-orange in color, has a sweet, herbal hop taste with a hint of tangerine citrus and a light grass note, and it finishes with toasted malt undertones. “This is, without a doubt, one of the best fresh hop beers on the market,” Tracy said. Find it every year starting in October.
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company - Octoberfest Lager
Connecticut, Est. Calories: 192, ABV: 5.7%
Octoberfest lagers were originally brewed to celebrate the beginning of the German brewing season — brewed in March and left to cool in lagering caves during the hot summer months. Keeping with tradition, Thomas Hooker Brewery offers their own Octoberfest Lager every fall. You can expect a toasted malty flavor, a hint of caramel, and a lingering aroma. Find it from Labor Day through October 31.
Six Point Brewery - Autumnation
New York, Est. Calories: 214, ABV: 6.7%
This mildly spicy pumpkin ale, which is golden orange in color, also packs ginger and cinnamon. And in a saturated market of pumpkin beers, it’s one of the best, says Tracy. “This has a good combo of fresh hops and recently harvested pumpkins—a very interesting take on the style.”
Heavy Seas - Märzen
Maryland, Est. Calories: 172, ABV: 5.25%
Named for the month they were historically brewed in—Märzen is German for March—märzen beers are typically amber in color and well-aged. This particular one, brewed in Baltimore, has a toasted, biscuity character and a slight sweetness, which comes from the crystal malt. And although it’s available year-round, it’s at its finest in the fall. “This beer is the real deal,” said Suzanne Schalow from Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, Massachusetts, which stocks over 750 varieties of beer.
Elysian Brewing Company - The Great Pumpkin Ale
Washington, Est. Calories: 285, ABV: 8.1%
Out of Seattle, this medium bodied beer is deep copper in color and has an intense pumpkin, sugar, and spice flavor that doesn’t taste artificial, says Tracy. It’s available for fall only, in 22 ounce bottles and on draft. (Bonus: It actually has roasted pumkin seeds in it.)
Samuel Adams - Octoberfest
Ohio, Est Calories: 182, ABV: 5.3%
“Sam Adams Octoberfest is a very well-respected, classic fall beer,” said Schalow. “No one can argue with that.” Her store allows customers to customize their six-packs, picking whatever beers they want, and Schalow says a fall sampler never leaves the store without a Sam’s Octoberfest. The beer blends five roasts of malt to create a flavorful fall drink, with hints of caramel and toffee. The slight bitterness comes from the Bavarian Noble hops. Find it in August through November.
Angry Orchard Hard Cider - Apple Ginger
Ohio, Est. Calories: 150, ABV: 5%
While not technically a beer, Schalow says customers go crazy for this cider every fall—which has both a sweet and slight tart taste, with a hint of spice as well. “The ginger in this cider is unbelievable,” Schalow said. “I would guess it’ll soon take over as the most popular cider in the country.”
Weyerbacher - Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Pennsylvania, Est. Calories: 240, ABV: 8%
This Pennsylvania pumpkin ale has a hearty, spicy, caramel flavor without overpowering sweetness. “This is my favorite pumpkin ale,” said Rob Keuking from Milwaukee’s Café Benelux, which is known for their selection of Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers. “The nutmeg in it is phenomenal, and it’s easier to drink than most pumpkin ales, which can get a little heavy.” This beer is available August through November.