Shifting seasons call for shifts aplenty across the board: In what you’re wearing on your feet, in how you’re layering your wardrobe and crucially, what you’re stocking in your fridge. While the best beers for summer are about light, easy-drinking refreshment to beat the heat, the best beers for fall require an open mind and a well-trained palette (or at least, the desire to go out on a limb).
Yes, that’s right: Fall is a terrific time for beers of all sorts, beyond just your traditional Oktoberfest styles, although we can’t get enough of those either. Reach for beers that are rich but balanced, flavorful and nuanced, then be sure they’re enjoyed alongside fall pursuits, from leaf-peeping to building a roaring bonfire. Your flannel shirt is ready to make a return once again, as are your favorite fall beers. Stock up and sip away.
The time is always right to enjoy a hopped-up IPA, the kind made for careful sipping on a night that’s breezy but not chilling you right down to the bone. In fact, Brewery Ommegang recommends enjoying this one out of a snifter, the better to capture its fruity aroma and loads of hops.
Pumpkin beers aren’t for everyone, but throw what you thought you knew about ‘em out the window, because Elysian Brewing strikes a nice balance here. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, among others, make this a character-filled sipper on a crisp fall night.
Stone has never been one to shy away from stirring the pot, so to speak, in the beer world at large. And for more than two decades now, Arrogant Bastard, a rich and uncompromising American Strong Ale, has embodied that in name, spirit and high-intensity flavor and aroma.
Oktoberfest beers are highly regarded, especially across the pond, where but a handful or so of choice breweries are permitted to serve beer at the legendary German event (sadly, canceled this year). Pay an homage to the famed gathering with an American take on the Märzen style.
Head north to The Bronx (at least in terms of your beer fridge) with this seasonally friendly Oktoberfest, best paired with traditional staples like bratwurst at your next tailgate. And if you’re in the city, this brewery is not to be missed, especially with its welcoming backyard on a crisp fall day.
It really wouldn’t be a list of the best fall beers without a revered and longtime staple of Oktoberfest itself. It’s the next best thing to trekking across the pond and raising a stein in person.
We wouldn’t fault you for selecting the excellent Bell’s Oktoberfest here either, but if you enjoy the hop-packed glory of the OG Two Hearted, then Double Two Hearted is for you. They’ve used more than two times the amount of Centennial hops for an amped-up, warming take on an extraordinary beer. Be warned: Double Two Hearted clocks in at 11 percent ABV, so sip wisely.
A saison in the fall? Here us out. This style, prized for both its light-on-the-palette qualities and its complex flavor, could be just the beer you need during transitional weather, when it’s perhaps breezy but ever-so-slightly warmer than expected. Think of it like the shirt jacket of beers, with versatility aplenty close at hand, and savor those last few weeks of back porch or patio dining.