The 20 Best Beers To Drink This Fall

It’s that time of year again when (location dependent of course) fall colors are beginning to break up the ubiquitous green hues across the countryside, hayrides and pumpkin carving replace afternoons by the pool for the kids, and each passing day the sun dips a little lower in the sky. It’s fall across the Northern Hemisphere, and we for one are happy it’s finally arrived.

Now, while the younger crowd may be off at the local pumpkin patch or shopping for the perfect Halloween costume, we’re more interested in enjoying the fruits of the harvest season. And by fruits, we mean beer of course. Historically this time of year marked the end of the growing season, thus a time to begin brewing new batches of beer from the harvested grains in Germany. This meant “disposing” of all remaining beer in the barrels from spring and summer. Thus, the birth of the Oktoberfest festival was born. Today, we still celebrate this tradition as craft breweries across Europe and the United States brew and release Fall-themed beers for enjoyment. The following list is just that, a detailed grouping of the 20 best beers to drink this fall. It’s a list that features both seasonal releases and year-rounders that just seem to taste better on a crisp fall afternoon. From nut brown ales to gingerbread stouts, they’re here and ready to keep you warm through this magnificent season of transition.

Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest

Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest

Style: Oktoberfest
ABV: 5%
Location: Paso Robles, CA

A true nod to the classic German-style beer that comes around once a year. It pours clear gold just like any good Oktoberfest should and hosts a nose with bready, light caramel, and woody spice aromas. The flavor profile follows suit with some mild oak and additional bitterness, rounded out by a light and crisp feel. Perfect for a cool afternoon at the tailgate. Chuck the Bud Light by the wayside.

Odell Cutthroat Porter

Odell Cutthroat Porter

Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.1%
Location: Fort Collings, CO

What’s great about porters is that you can get everything you want out of a dark and heavy stout for a fraction of the heft. Don’t get us wrong, though, the Cutthroat isn’t tame by any means. Odell brewed this porter in the name of classic London porters and features a dark roasted malt profile complete with chocolate and coffee notes. It’s named after the Colorado state fish and with an ABV of only 5.1 percent you can easily throw them back like one as well.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.2%
Location: Bend, OR

Pouring black with a hint of ruby when held up to the light, the Black Butte serves as an excellent porter for someone looking to cross over to the dark side without the high ABV collateral. It boasts a creamy head providing aromas of dark chocolate and roasted coffee. A flavor profile that follows suit but with more chocolate (no complaints there), and finishes with that enjoyable porter char that brings a bit of warmth to any chilly evening.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Style: Dunkelweizen
ABV: 5.3%
Location: Freising, Germany

Almost as fun as enjoying one of these Dunkels on a sunny fall afternoon is trying to pronounce the name after drinking five of them. As a dark wheat beer, it’s the perfect option for fall as it offers the light and refreshing characteristics of a wheat beer but with the roasted malt and caramel notes of a darker porter or bock beer. The Dunkel also hosts hints of ripe banana alongside other fresh fruit. See, you can have the best of both worlds.

Sierra Nevada Stout

Sierra Nevada Stout

Style: American Stout
ABV: 5.8%
Location: Chico, CA

Pouring more brown than black, the Sierra Nevada Stout is perfect for fans of the style that still value their balance after a pint or two. It hosts a scent of roasted grains that pair well with the beer’s chocolate and dark fruit notes. Not overpowering or hoppy as these California brands like to suggest. Instead, it’s just an all-around well-balanced stout offering tasty a tasty malt with a hint of sweetness.

Rogue Chocolate Stout

Rogue Chocolate Stout

Style: Rogue Chocolate Stout
ABV: 5.8%
Location: Newport, OR

Who doesn’t like chocolate? When brewed properly, a good chocolate stout -though hard to come by- is heavenly. Rogue doesn’t disappoint with this round. Pouring a viscous black, the nose in noticeably chocolate. There’s a decent mouthfeel with this one, much like any other meaty stout, but ends with a bit of bitter dark chocolate rather than an overly sweet finish.

Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen

Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen

Style: Oktoberfest
ABV: 5.8%
Location: Munich, Germany

If the American interpretation of the style just doesn’t cut it for you then we suggest you pick up of the real McCoy. It’s a true hat-tip to the style that started it all over 200 years ago, pouring copper in color and providing drinkers with a pleasant caramel sweetness that isn’t too sweet to the tongue. It also features a well-balanced malt profile and a very light hop finish at the end. Can’t go wrong here.

Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter

Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter

Style: American Porter
ABV: 6%
Location: San Diego, CA

Boasting a smoother taste than other porters around, Black Marlin offers a bit of malty relief to anyone somewhat hesitant about tasting a true porter. It pours just about black in color, with hints of coffee and caramel, and offers tasting notes of caramel, chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee. If you’re looking for a bottled version of a fall night, Black Marlin is good to go.

Great Lakes Oktoberfest

Great Lakes Oktoberfest

Style: Oktoberfest
ABV: 6.5%
Location: Cleveland, OH

Now while Ohio may not be immediately recognized as a brewery powerhouse, Great Lakes Brewing does a sufficient job of debunking that myth. Case in point is their Oktoberfest. They keep this beer quite true to the style, featuring light and subtle herb and floral notes. Again, no surprises with the taste -a good characteristic by the way- with a light mouthfeel and floral malts. Nothing like the perfect emulation of a classic style.

AleSmith Evil Dead Red

AleSmith Evil Dead Red

Style: American Red Ale
ABV: 6.66%
Location: San Diego, CA

Released each Halloween, this special brew pours deep blood red in color and offers up an aroma of pine and citrus hops that help to balance the sweet and rich flavors this beer obtains from its caramel malt profile. There’s a little lingering bitterness in the finish and Evil Dead certainly pleases the gimmick-hungry beer nerd in all of us.

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6.7%
Location: Seattle, WA

Despite the annoyances of the pumpkin-spiced craze, it really isn’t fall without a quality pumpkin ale, especially when each batch of Elysian is brewed with 150 pounds of the stuff. It’s obvious then the nose of this beer lends itself heavily to notes of pumpkin pie and cinnamon, pouring dark amber in color with a thin beige head. There’s also a bit of nutmeg for added flavor making it a great autumnal beer that pairs quite well with desert.

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 6.7%
Location: Hampton, NH

Based out of a picturesque fall destination comes a classic American Brown Ale from Smuttynose Brewing. Similar to the traditional English-style brown ale, this version is a bit more full-bodied and of course liberally hopped. It pours red/brown in color with a nose full of raisins followed by toffee and plums. The flavor profile follows up similarly with added notes of caramel, dark fruit, and a touch of molasses. However, despite the flavors present in this brew, it’s all-in-all lighter and more refreshing than one would assume.

Birrificio Baladin Nora

Birrificio Baladin Nora

Style: Spiced Ale
ABV: 6.8%
Location: Piozzo, Italy

Now while this spiced beer is available year-round it still features a flavor profile that’s perfect for early fall. With a hazy orange/amber color, it pairs well with the fall theme. The Baladin Nora then comes through with a bit or orange peel on the nose and sweetness thanks to the Myrrh that’s including in the brewing process. A bit of ginger also lingers as well and with some additional spices and tart notes. It’s quite the complex and delicate Egyptian-inspired beer.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown

Dogfish Head Indian Brown

Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 7.2%
Location: Milton, DE

Dogfish Head is always up to something deliciously weird. And while you would assume this beer is just another brown ale, think again. They’ve managed to cross this beer with the likes of a Scotch Ale, an India Pale, and American Brown. The end result is a well-hopped but malty ale that hosts the color of a traditional brown, the caramel notes of a Scotch Ale, and the hop profile of an IPA. It’s yet another reason why Dogfish Head continues to impress all others in the industry.

Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale

Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale

Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7.5%
Location: Stevens Point, WI

If you’re looking to turn it up a notch from ordinary pumpkin ales, Stevens Point offers their Whole Hog that Starbucks baristas would never touch. Pouring almost muddy brown in the glass it’s dark and cloudy with a caramel sweetness and spiciness that most certainly alludes to pumpkin pie. And if you really pay attention, subtle notes of ginger and nuttiness will break through as well. Enjoy.

Founder's Harvest Ale

Founder’s Harvest Ale

Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.6%
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

As a “wet hop” beer, this IPA only uses hops that are fresh off the vine without any processing. It’s the IPA equivalent to the German Oktoberfest, celebrating the grain harvest. This beer, in particular, pours a yellow color that imparts a serious hop aroma and flavor (it is an American IPA after all). Harvest Ale also offers notes of lightly toasted malt to help balance everything out. A great ode to the fall harvest season.

Victory Moonglow Weizenbock

Victory Moonglow Weizenbock

Style: Wiezenbock
ABV: 8.7%
Location: Downingtown, PA

As a tradition german-style beer, weizenbocks are a great alternative to the more sought after Porters and Stouts during the cooler months. This variant offers a bit more than most with a peaty and earthy nose followed by burnt caramel on the palate alongside notes of apple and oak. The mouthfeel is a little syrupy and smooth as well with a smooth finish that doesn’t linger for too long preparing you for that next pull.

Hardywood Gingerbread Stout

Hardywood Gingerbread Stout

Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 9.2%
Location: Richmond, VA

Best drunk closer to the end of Fall, this sweet milk stout is brewed with baby ginger and honey from local Virginia farms. It boasts a sweet and velvety mouthful that combines both the sweetness of a classic milk stout with the pungent attractiveness of ginger. Also along for the ride are notes of vanilla, chocolate, and honeycomb, all wrapped up in a beer that’s deep chocolate in color with a frothy caramel colored head. It’s a great time to be thirsty.

The Bruery Autumn Maple

The Bruery Autumn Maple

Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 10%
Location: Placentia, CA

Talk about a serious fall beer. Each barrel of Autumn Maple is brewed with 17 pounds of yams. Naturally, it’s their take on the more mainstream Pumpkin beer style. In addition, it’s brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup offering up a flavor profile of caramel, toffee, citrus, and brown sugar. Basically, Thanksgiving in a bottle that’s seasonally appropriate and well-balanced but with a serious kick.

Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout

Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout

Style: American Imperial Stout
ABV: 12%
Location: Decorah, IA

Now while this particular beer may be a bit difficult to find, it’s most certainly worth the effort. Pouring black with no head at all, it’s quite apparent you’re in for a ride with this one. It hosts notes of heavy coffee, maple, vanilla, and fudge, drinks the same but with a noticeable heat from the 12 percent ABV, and features an oily mouthfeel fans of the Imperial Stout style will love. There’s even a hint of bourbon on the finish to wrap things up. Good thing the nights are getting longer.

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