Bartenders Tell Us The Best Fall Beers That *Aren’t* Pumpkin Flavored

Getty Images/Uproxx

Few beer styles are as divisive at the infamous pumpkin ale. If you enjoy the flavor of pumpkins and other spices in a stout, porter, or any other beer style, you probably look forward to a pint of this unique style every fall. But if you’re on the other side of the debate, you loathe this style and find your annoyance growing as the days grow shorter and summer leads into fall.

Since it seems like every brewery has its own version of the pumpkin beer, where does that leave beer fans who fall into the latter category? What do they have to look forward to in between light, summery brews, and dark winter ales? During the fall should they just switch to whiskey?

Fear not. There are other beer-based options and we asked our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorites. Check them all out below.

Bruery Autumn Maple

Danwel Olivo, bartender at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach

“The bold and spicy Bruery Autumn Maple is my preferred fall beer. Brewed with 17 pounds of yam per barrel, this Orange County beer is perfect for autumn with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses and maple syrup.”

KC Bier Dunkel

Sam Cable, head bartender at P.S. Speakeasy in Kansas City, Missouri

“I’m partial to some of the heavier lagers out there. There’s a Dunkel that’s brewed in a traditional German style in Kansas City, MO by Kc Bier Co. that is just perfect for this time of year.

Erdinger Dunkel

Robert Conlon, director of beverage at The Mirage in Las Vegas

“What’s my favorite fall-like beer to drink instead of pumpkin beer? I like to enjoy a nice wheat beer, but not the typical Germen wheat. My go-to fall beer is a dark wheat beer like the Erdinger Dunkel.”

Jack’s Abby Copper Legend

Kenneth Lingle, The Row Hotel at Assembly Row in Somerville, Massachusetts

“What’s my favorite fall-like beer to drink instead of pumpkin beer? Oktoberfest for sure. Sam Adams makes a consistent stellar easy drinker but I really love Jacks Abby Copper Legend Octoberfest.”

Jackalope Bearwalker Brown

Harrison Peaks, bartender at The Patterson House in Nashville

“Jackalope Bearwalker Brown (a local Nashville brewery!!). This beer is perfect for fall – it’s a maple brown ale that makes you think you’re a lumberjack in the woods drinking a cold one. I could sip it on the back of a hayride.”


Rob Hinds, beverage director at The Eddy in New York City

“In summer, lean lagers that quench your thirst are great, but when the weather turns cool and I need to take advantage of the last days of outdoor seating in beer gardens — I’m looking for something a little more refined to sip. Rodenbach is what I will happily order if it’s available on a menu. A dry, tart beer from Belgium, it has the body to warm you up a little bit and the complexity to make it worth savoring.”

Stony Creek Crum

Jules Elkovich, sommelier at Michael Jordan’s Steak House Uncasville, Connecticut

“Stony Creek Brewery’s Crum is an utterly delectable apple cinnamon oatmeal amber ale. It’s like an apple crumble in liquid form, which, let’s be honest, apple is the far superior quintessential fall flavor.”

Founders Backwoods Bastard

Nick Barlow, bartender at Momofuku Las Vegas

“From Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, their Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale called Backwoods Bastard is a great choice. Even at 11.2% alcohol, you can still taste the hints of caramel, vanilla, molasses and a subtle hop presence. Great for sipping slow out at the firepit.”

Fullsteam Carver

Lauren Kritt, head bartender at HarbourView Inn in Charleston, South Carolina

“Brewed with 200 pounds of sweet potatoes per batch, I am a big fan of Fullsteam Brewery’s Sweet Potato Lager. It’s the perfect blend to sip on during the fall in Charleston. At HarbourView Inn, we turn it into a beer-tail by adding Cointreau and fresh lime juice to create our Carver Radler.”

Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout

Adam Koelb, beverage director at The Rickey at Dream Midtown in New York City

“My personal favorite fall-like beer to drink instead of pumpkin beer is the Organic Chocolate Stout by Samuel Smith Breweries. I favor this seasonal beer so much that we recently added it our new fall menu at The Rickey at Dream Midtown. I anticipate many people will agree that it’s a perfect fall alternative to your standard pumpkin beer.”

Ballast Point Victory at Sea

Chris Gere, manager at Brennan’s of Houston

“Favorite fall-like beer: Stouts or Porters. Specifically, the Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. If chocolate milk came in beer form, it would be this. So good.”

3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust

Don Hernandez, beverage director at Holston House Nashville

“My hands down favorite fall beer is Zombie Dust made by 3 Floyd’s Brewing Co. in Indiana. It’s an American Pale Ale that has a ton of flavor and sits at a nice 6.2% ABV. Yes, this is a year-round product (if you can get your hands on it) but when there is a chill in the air the big aroma of Citra hops and yeast just make me think of home. By far one of my favorite beers.”

Great Divide Yeti

Brad Manske, beverage director at ViewHouse in Denver

“Yeti Stout by Great Divide Brewing – this brew offers a roasty malt flavor complimented by caramel and toffee notes. I love to pair this with an order of the ViewHouse Smoky Sliders. The slow cooked brisket and pretzel bun pair perfectly with the bold flavor found in a stout.”

Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock Rauchbier

Jeremy Williams, lead mixologist at Lumber Baron Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Rauchbeir is a good go to for a cold crisp night. While being a more esoteric style and harder to come by, it’s definitely worth seeking out. Aecht Schlenkerla makes an Urbock Rauchbier which is a German style of lager that uses malt that’s been smoked over beechwood fires; after which its cellared in Oakwood casks for several weeks. This beer is very savory (almost bacon-y), medium bodied and has one of the longest finishes I’ve experienced, making it a great slow sipper.”

Deschutes Jubelale

Ross Lewis, bar manager at Mahina & Sun’s in Honolulu

“My favorite fall-like beer other than pumpkin is the Deschutes Jubelale, a complex winter ale with a warm spiciness and rounded boldness. The flavor of this beer revealed a malt sweetness along with slight hints of cocoa, coffee and toasted grain. This is a perfect beer to enjoy with family on a chilly winter’s eve.”