Although not a traditional region for pumpkin, Oktoberfest, and other fall-harvest-based beers, the Northwest’s microbrewery culture has exploded in recent years. In fact, Portland has more breweries than any city in the world, with 76 located within its metro area. So, fall beers may not be the specialty, but beer certainly is. If you take a bike ride through Portland or one of the other Northwest cities, you’re bound to find a place with a solid seasonal brew. Here are five we’d recommend:
1. Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Elysian Brewing Company (Seattle, WA)
Elysian’s well-regarded, medium-bodied pumpkin ale proves that Northwesterners can mix pumpkin and beer just as well as any New England brewer. It’s spruced up with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, along with three kinds of malts and just a bit of hops to balance the sweet flavors. Boasting an aroma of pumpkin pie and a smooth mouth feel, this is the region’s pumpkin beer standard.
A bit of a sharper Oktoberfest than most, Pyramid’s take on the style is a shade hoppier than others, hence the larger IBU number. Still, the malts and hops are balanced nicely (although the malts don’t take over like in most Marzen-style beers), and it has a roasted, creamy flavor. A very drinkable session lager.
No pumpkins here, but this harvest ale is spiced as though there are; it includes cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and other autumnal notes. The increased hoppiness seems to replace the pumpkin here, and it churns out a perfectly pleasurable fall brew that gets you in the right mood for the season.
4. Ninkasi Oktoberfest, Ninkasi Brewing Company (Eugene, OR)
Made with locally grown hops and malts, this Oktoberfest is a newly released seasonal that can contend with the most popular fests out there. This amber brew with a malty, sweet flavor and a bitter hop finish to balance it out will make you think you’re in Bavaria, or at least a festival in Milwaukee.
5. Silver City Oktoberfest, Silver City Brewing Co. (Silverdale, WA)
This hazy orange beer, appropriately colored for the season, is another example of Oktoberfest done right in the Pacific Northwest. Toasted malty sweetness with a slight fruit backdrop gives way to spicy hops to balance the overall flavor. A great drink to enjoy just before the start of another rainy winter.