There's a time and a place for a crisp, refreshing pilsner—maybe even one with a dash of citrus and salt in there. That time is called summer, the place is the beach, backyard, or campsite, and indeed those are great beers to drink outside on warm days. But summer is coming to an end, and colder weather is headed our way. This means it's time to put those pilsners away. As you break out your boots, jacket, and finest log-splitting axe, also remember to stock up on some great fall beers. Indeed autumn is the season in which many of the year's best beers hit the shelves and taps.
Here are 20 of the best fall beers that you should try this year. Plus, get Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder and lead brewer Sam Calagione's thoughts on a few fine brews and get plenty of ideas for beers you really should try this season.
Plus, don't miss 13 Secrets Major Beer Companies Don't Want You to Know
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
This is a true Marzen-style beer, which means it is initially brewed back in March and then aged at cool temperatures (also known as being "lagered") until the fall. Of Marzen beers, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head said: "Marzens are great beers. I think the misperception of lager as a term, to the uninitiated, is that sounds like an industrial light lager. People think of lager and they just think of, you know, corn syrup and rice and American industrial light lager. [But] the lager style has characteristics that are generally more mellow, more fun, refined, more nuanced… there could be a massive spectrum of sensory differentiation." Which is what you'll get with this rich, malty beer.
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Stone 26th Anniversary Imperial IPA
Frankly, this big, bold IPA would be as welcome in the depths of winter as in the autumn chill. Its bracing 9.7% ABV and huge hoppy profile enliven (and rather overpower, but in a good way) your taste buds in any season. But it just so happens that Stone released their 26th Anniversary Imperial IPA now, and it won't be around forever, so you'd better get a can, bottle, or get to a taproom this fall.
Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Save this beer for later autumn when the nights are truly longer and colder—and ideally warmed by a fire. It's a treat in a bottle if ever there was one, both rich and sweet and perfect as an after-dinner slow-sipping beer. Also, it's only 5.2% ABV, so you can enjoy one (or two) without worrying about how you will feel in the morning.
Harpoon Dunkin' Hazelnut Blonde Stout
Leaning heavily into its Boston-area roots, this beer, made in partnership with Dunkin' (formerly known as Dunkin' Donuts and, FYI, a massive player in MA), this beer from Harpoon is unique in that it's on the paler side in terms of color yet it has the rich mouthfeel of a stout. It's sweet and mildly bitter and a real must-try this fall.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Inspired by the first beer Sam Calagione ever brewed at home, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is, per Calagione, brewed "with real allspice, shredded cinnamon, real shredded nutmeg, and we used real brown sugar and real pumpkin meat." In other words, this beer is not made with a squirt of sweet syrup added to the wort, it's made with real ingredients that create a rich, nuanced seasonal beer.
Otter Creek Copper Ale
A sublimely well-balanced amber ale, this beer is one you could slowly sip and savor but also one you can quaff down fast. Otter Creek's Copper Ale is both malty and sweet yet it has enough bitterness to meet the malt in the middle, and at 5% ABV, it's a great midafternoon beer.
New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
Made with real pumpkin, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and brewed using roasted malted barley, this beer from New Holland manages to be plenty rich in taste but also easy enough on the palate and the ABV (it's a scant 4.5% alcohol by volume) that you can crush a can or three Ichabods as you trick-or-treat, rake leaves, grill, or whatever else you enjoy doing in the autumn.
Another fine example of a Marzen beer, Harpoon's Octoberfest is modest on the ABV at 5.3% yet robust in bitterness at 30 IBUs. Little surprise they make a good Octoberfest beer, as the brewery has hosted annual Octoberfest celebrations for more than 30 years that draw thousands of people every time. Maybe a good place to try this beer, no?
Newcastle Brown Ale
Brown ales are often overlooked by beer lovers, and that's a real shame. They are lighter in body than porters or stouts yet have a rich, roasted taste that's great for cooler weather. Newcastle's classic Brown Ale has been beloved for generations for being both complex and approachable, and it has the added benefit of being easy to find.
Victory Golden Monkey
This Belgian-style tripel beer packs a punch at 9.5% ABV, so sip with care. And with absolute relish, as it's one of the most flavorful beers to be found in wide availability. With Golden Monkey, Victory has genuinely re-created a Belgian-style beer that would be as enjoyed in a café in Brussels as it will in your own living room or out on the porch.
Allagash Haunted House
What will most surprise (and please) you about this dark ale from Allagash Brewing is the fact that it is hop-forward in flavor profile. Sure, the malt is present and there's a vague coffee/toast taste here, especially on the lingering finish, but the hoppy bitterness is what defines the brew.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA
This beer is a holiday brew at heart, and it's great for winter, but it first comes out in October, and as Celebration is a fresh hop ale, the earlier you get it in the season, and the sooner you enjoy it, the better. This beer, which has been made annually for going on 40 years, is a must-have taste of the season. And a hoppy taste at that.
Lindeman's Apple Lambic
Light, sweet, and amazingly effervescent, this is the perfect fall beer for drinking when you don't want a big, toasty, or hoppy brew, but instead want an apple-infused and complex but refreshing beer that's very low in ABV and quite unique in flavor profile.
Ballast Point Brewing Victory at Sea Porter
Porters are superb fall beers, as they are rich and toasty but generally not quite as heavy as stouts, stouts being ideal winter brews. This is an ideal fall brew because it's rich, complex, and features notes of both coffee and vanilla. Sweet but subtly so, this is a slow sipper thanks to its robust 10% ABV, making it a perfect beer for long, kicked-back autumn evenings.
Left Hand Pumpkin Spice Latte Nitro
"Carbonated" with nitrogen and brewed with oats and lactose for added creaminess, this beer genuinely does have the mouthfeel of a frothy latte. And it has a flavor crafted by blending coffee, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. So yeah, basically you need to try it.
Golden Road Wolf Among Weeds IPA
This is just a good, reliable IPA, and sometimes, that's all you need – fall is definitely one of those times, by the way. A blend of four types of hops defines this beer, giving it a character that's a blend of citrus and pine. The hops are nestled into a 2-row malt, while the 8% ABV is perceptible on the tongue, too.
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
You'll wonder how this brewery got so much flavor into a beer that clocks in at just a 5.5% ABV but… they did. A blend of four types of grains (2 Row, Chocolate, Wheat, Crystal, and Carapils) make a rich grain bill, which explains the tasty, toasty malt, while a blend of Cascade and Tettnang hops to balance out the beer. Ah, so that's how they did it, got it.
New Belgium Atomic Pumpkin
OK, one more pumpkin beer for you to try this fall, and this one may be the wildest yet. Why? Because New Belgium isn't kidding with that "atomic" word there: this is a spicy beer. Along with the pumpkin meat and cinnamon, it's brewed with habanero peppers, so it will tantalize and singe the tastebuds in just the right balance.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
There is never a bad time for a 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head. Well, maybe before 5 pm isn't a great time, but we mean time of year. This beer is exceptionally tasty on a crisp evening, though, when its 9% ABV can be bracing against the cold and its wallop of hops—it rates at 90 IBUs, mind you—will be plenty tasty even when your tastebuds are chilly. There's a reason they have been brewing it for 21 years now: It's sublime.
Athletic Brewing's All Out
This is a stout-style beer that is missing something surprising: the alcohol. Why is that surprising? Because to take a sip of Athletic Brewing's All Out Extra Dark brew, you would never know it was booze-free (or almost so, at less than 0.5% ABV), as the rich taste is fully intact. Lightly bitter and mostly rich and toasty, it's a great fall beer you can sip even in the middle of the day.