Oktoberfest 2014: The Best Beers in the Mid-Atlantic
With a fall season similar to New England's and a number of popular, talented brewers, the mid-Atlantic states (as in New York south through Maryland for the purposes of this article) offer up an impressive number of choices for local seasonal beer this fall. Some craft brewery heavyweights come from this area, such as Dogfish Head, Ommegang, and Southern Tier Brewing Company, so be sure to check out some of these regional brews at the next tailgate. Don’t settle for paying a share of the 30-pack of generic beer—get the good stuff.
1. Pumking, Southern Tier Brewing Company (Lakewood, NY)
Particularly well-loved by pumpkin aficionados throughout the region (and elsewhere), Southern Tier’s Pumking is one of the top pumpkin ales on the market. It has a beautiful caramel, cinnamon aroma, and a ton of elements work in harmony to produce an original, creamy, and delicious taste that embodies the season and should go well with a big upcoming meal—perhaps even Thanksgiving dinner.
Named in honor of the bizarre Punkin Chunkin event (that thing on TV where everyone’s catapulting pumpkins) held in Delaware each fall, Punkin Ale is a brown ale blended with brown sugar and an array of autumnal spices. It’s creamy and malty, but packs a bigger punch than your run-of-the-mill pumpkin ales.
3. Hipp-O-Lantern, River Horse Brewing Company (Ewing, NJ)
At 8.5% alcohol, River Horse’s Hipp-O-Lantern fits in with its wide selection of potent brews. Prepared with a mixture of pumpkins, molasses, and a variety of hand-crushed spices, the beer has a malty sweetness to it that gets balanced out by the sharp alcohol flavor. It's definitely worth a try if you’re a fan of seasonal brews with a kick to them.
4. The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
This one is not your average pumpkin beer, with most drinkers finding it has a far subtler pumpkin flavor than most. With the surprisingly high levels of ABV and IBUs, it sort of resembles a pumpkin beer for IPA lovers. Still, it has those classic elements—pumpkin and a blend of spices—which should come through to take the edge off this strong brew.
A step away from the normal fare of Oktoberfests and pumpkin ales, Scythe & Sickle is a worthy take on the fall season from a brewery that knows Belgian beers inside and out. Utilizing barley, oats, wheat, and rye, it encapsulates the harvest season and does a great job of splitting the difference between a Belgian-style beer and an amber more typical of this time of year.
6. Penn Oktoberfest, Pennsylvania Brewing Company (Pittsburgh, PA)
Back to the fall festival brews. Penn Oktoberfest is another one worth a try if you’re in the area. The lager is a bit lighter-bodied than most, balances five kinds of malts nicely with the hops, and has a slight bitterness that keeps things interesting. A delicate and crisp brew.
Yes, another imperial pumpkin ale to round out the list, but this one is also able to back up its premium beer status. This is a hearty beer with significant notes of caramel, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and other spices, all contributing to an overall top-notch pumpkin ale. This creamy brew should go nicely with pie, or as a simple fall nightcap.