Fall brings more than chilly mornings, scarecrows and changing leaves. It also marks the arrival of all things Halloween — and all things pumpkin-flavored, from bread and coffee to beer.
Fall’s annual crop of pumpkin beers hit store shelves earlier than ever this year, USA Today reports.
“The introductions in the [beer] industry are mirroring that of overall retail, where you start to see Halloween merchandise this time of year and Christmas merchandise near Halloween,” said Eric Schmidt, director of research for market tracking firm Technomic Inc. “It seems that every year the introductions come earlier and earlier.”
If you’re eager to tip back one of autumn’s seasonal brews, but pumpkin ale doesn’t please your palate, there are plenty of other fall beers you can try.
Longtime homebrewer and craft beer drinker Mike Billy’s recent column in The Times focused on pumpkin-free ales.
“Whether it’s a traditional German Oktoberfest, or the uniquely American wet-hopped IPA, there is more to fall beer than pumpkins,” he writes.
Billy recommends these sudsy seasonal brews for fall:
- Oktoberfest: Also known as marzen beer, Oktoberfest is a “rich malty lager” that “will finish dry and crisp like the crunchy leaves beneath your feet,” Billy writes. Examples include: Great Lakes Oktoberfest, New Glarus Staghorn, Paulaner Oktoberfest and Two Brothers Atom Smasher.
- Brown Ale: These beers have a distinct nutty flavor, as well as “hints of chocolate and toffee” and caramel, Billy writes. Examples include: Bell’s Best Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Tumbler, Goose Island Nut Brown Ale and Abita Turbodog.
- Red IPA: Known for their bitterness, Red IPAs feature “pine and resin characteristics from the hops that are balanced with toast, caramel and toffee from the malts,” Billy writes. Examples include: New Belgium Red Hoptober, Sierra Nevada Flipsie and Founder’s Red Rye IPA.
- Harvest ales (wet-hopped beer): Typically found after the fall harvest, wet-hopped harvest ales often feature citrus and pine aromas and have a unique bitterness from the freshly picked hops. Examples include: Two Brothers Heavy Handed, Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop IPA, Founders Harvest Ale and 3 Floyds Broo Doo.
Seasonal beers are big business, especially in the fall, USA Today said.
According to the Colorado-based Brewers Association, from September through November 2014, seasonal beers totaled more than 20 percent of the nearly $20 billion annual craft beer market.
Are you a beer drinker? Do you enjoy pumpkin beer? Share your favorite seasonal fall brews in comments below or on our Facebook page.