Sure, the fall season is nothing like what is farther north, but the sweltering, unbearably humid days of summer are finally over down south, and that’s worth celebrating (especially considering the cold will really start to set in elsewhere). Even though the leaves generally just fade to a dull brown and eventually fall off down here, don’t think local brewers can’t make a tasty pumpkin ale. It’s the perfect thing to drink while taking in an SEC football game—just be sure to ask for more in a to-go cup if you’re down in New Orleans. Here are five beers in the region worth a try.
1. Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, FL)
A shockingly well-reviewed fall beer—world-class, according to nearly 1,000 Beer Advocate reviews—Good Gourd is a perfectly garnished pumpkin imperial with spices like Jamaican allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The strong (real) pumpkin flavor will make you forget this beer came from Florida, at least while you’re taking a sip and thinking autumnal thoughts.
2. Pumpkin Ale, AleWerks Brewing Company (Williamsburg, VA)
Alewerks keeps it simple with its formula for pumpkin ale, and it knocks it out of the park. Rather than trying to do too much in mixing the spices, this ale utilizes that aspect in a subtle manner, instead focusing on making sure the hops, malts, and pumpkin work together harmoniously. The result is a beer that tastes like an amber with a less pronounced but still evident pumpkin flavor, plus the high ABV isn’t evident in the taste, making it potentially dangerous but awesome.
3. Mecktoberfest, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (Charlotte, NC)
Mecktoberfest is a testament to historic Oktoberfest beer, a Marzen-style amber lager that includes Bavarian hops and a yeast strain from the world’s oldest brewery (Benedictine Weihenstephan Abbey in Germany). They certainly covered all the bases on this one, and the result is a malty, slightly bitter, and generally flawless brew.
4. Pecan Harvest Ale, Abita Brewery (Abita Springs, LA)
This is one of the few fall beers that dare to replace pumpkin as the premier harvested crop. Roasted Louisiana pecans combined with four kinds of malts and Willamette hops produce a nutty flavor with a relatively light body and mild bite at the finish. It’s worth a shot just so you can say you tried pecan beer.
A perfectly brewed German Oktoberfest, this is a medium-bodied lager that has a rich, malty flavor with just a slight edge of hops on the finish. It's bit lighter in taste and ABV than other similar beers, making it a perfect choice for a longer session, or even a festival.