The middle areas of the country, far away from the oceans, Great Lakes, and the Gulf, tend to have abbreviated spring and fall seasons (as you know if that’s where you’re from). The blistering summer heat gives way to a quick autumn reprieve, just before the icy, biting cold returns. It’s tough to enjoy the fall in places like Colorado and Kansas, where it’s over so fast, but some local brewers capture the brief joy of the season before it’s all over. These five local beers from America’s Western frontier are definitely worth a taste.
Using five kinds of malts and an array of traditional fall spices, this pumpkin ale is up there with the best of the season, regardless of location. With a strong dose of cinnamon on the finish, this is like pumpkin pie in a glass, just with a pleasantly surprising high alcohol content.
2. Fermentation Without Representation, Epic Brewing Company (Salt Lake City, UT)
ABV: 8.0%An imperial pumpkin porter, this one should stand out from other pumpkin beers since it’s not an ale and well, the name is interesting (Epic has association with a packaging brewery in Washington, D.C.). The formula includes 200 pounds of pumpkin per batch, and it has a far more roasted, chocolatey flavor than your average pumpkin brew. Expect some notes of coffee, allspice, vanilla, and nutmeg to complement the principal flavors.
3. Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale, Tommyknocker Brewery (Idaho Springs, CO)
A malty offering brewed with molasses and your standard pumpkin beer spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove), this is an understated and robust harvest ale. Pumpkin isn’t really in command here, at least not in the same way that it is in other similarly styled brews, but that could be a good thing if you’re not a huge pumpkin fan.
4. The Kaiser, Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, CO)
A rare Imperial Oktoberfest, Avery goes all out to capture the best of the traditional Marzen-style brew while stepping up its game in complexity. The Kaiser has an impressive five malts and three different styles of hops, making it a smooth, malty beverage that stays balanced. Very easy to drink considering the high ABV, with slight notes of several sweet and nutty flavors.
5. Octoberfest, Free State Brewing Co. (Lawrence, KS)
Another well-conceived take on everyone’s favorite fall lager, Free State’s toasty amber-colored Oktoberfest is a well-balanced, medium-bodied brew with a tinge of fruity flavors and sweetness, and with enough hops to provide an enticing aroma while evening out the malts. You can’t go wrong with this while taking in an afternoon of football at your buddy’s place.