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We Asked Brewers To Name The One Perfect Beer For Fall

What makes a perfect fall beer? Is it a malty and refreshing, highly drinkable Märzen? How about a rich brown ale? Maybe, if you’re like us, you like to climb out of the summery IPA pool and dive headfirst into the world of darker stouts and porters. If you’re still enjoying the last warm evenings by sitting around a roaring fire, you might want to up the smoke ante and grab for a seasonally appropriate smoked beer. That is… if you think you’re up for it.

“Smoked beer is definitely an acquired taste, and a lot of the beer drinking public can’t get past something that smells like a campfire,” says Erik Norsen, head brewer at Wagner Valley Brewing Co. “It is something that I only ever make three barrels of, while our brewhouse is twenty barrels.”

Regardless of your taste, autumn has a seasonal beer perfect for you. But picking “the one” isn’t an easy task. That’s why we asked some of our favorite brewers to tell us their one perfect beer for fall.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Yiga Miyashiro, senior director of brewery operations at Saint Archer Brewing Co.

For me, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale represents the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. Sierra Nevada has been brewing this beer since 1981 using the fresh hops of that season. and they continue to keep up this tradition — waiting for the new crop to arrive before they start brewing.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Erik Norsen, head brewer at Wagner Valley Brewing Co.

Definitely Rauchbier like Aecht Schlenkerla, A nice smokey 4-5% amber lager is the perfect companion for every fall chore: raking leaves, stacking wood, cleaning gutters, wrapping windows. The smokiness entices you into slowing down and enjoying the beer, while it’s lower alcohol percentage makes it the perfect thing to sip on throughout a day while still being able to climb a ladder.

Cambridge Heather Ale

Kelly McKnight, pilot brewer at New Belgium

Cambridge Brewing Company Heather Ale. The fresh-picked heather and low bitterness is a mellow transition that you can enjoy on a crisp fall day.

Zoiglhaus Oktoberfresh

Kevin Martin, director of brewing operations at Cascade Brewing

Märzen is one of my favorite beers to drink in the Fall and one we don’t make at Cascade Brewing. Marzens have a rare quality that makes them rich and malt-forward while at the same time clean and highly drinkable. Their coppery hue is a welcome seasonal color change from the golden pale ales and pilsners of summer, and their association with Oktoberfest makes Marzen them quintessential Autumn beers.

Locally in Portland, Zoiglhaus does a great Marzen every year. Good traditional German examples would be Spatan and Ayinger.

Bar Harbor Cadillac Mountain Stout

Joe Connolly, director of Springdale Beer

I love a good stout year-round, but I start to get my dark beer groove going for real in the fall. Bar Harbor’s Cadillac Mountain Stout is one of my favorites for a crisp day.

Hellbender Dunkelweisse

Daniel Vilarrubi, head brewer at Atlas Brew Works

I like drinking the Hellbender Dunkelweisse in the fall. It’s a departure from the typical Märzens and pumpkin beers you see this time of year but it still has great fall beer elements. It’s toasty and malty with a bit of spice from the yeast but still easy drinking. And at 4.8% I can have a few and stay on my feet.

Spaten Oktoberfest

Steve Sanderson, founder and brewer at RiverWalk Brewing Company

I always go to classic German lagers in the fall, with Spaten being a sentimental favorite due to the time I spent in Munich at the Spaten tent for Oktoberfest.

Saucony Creek Maple Mistress

Matt McCall, brewmaster at Coney Island Brewing

Saucony Creek brewery, near my hometown in Pennsylvania, makes an awesome beer called Maple Mistress that’s made with roasted butternut squash and maple syrup. It’s a bit boozy at 8 percent ABV, but it’s a great beer to enjoy sitting around a fire on a cool fall night.

Second Street Jackplane Porter

John Walker, head brewer and co-founder at Athletic Brewing

My favorite fall beer is Second Street Brewery Jackplane Porter. It’s rich, smoky, complex and warming…and an iteration of the first commercial-scale brew I brewed alone as an assistant.

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

Paul Friedheim, lead brewer at Thirsty Monk Brewing

Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest. It’s a great international collaboration from my favorite brewery (other than Thirsty Monk). This year, the brewery collaborated with Bitburger, creating one of the best American Oktoberfest beers in recent memory.

Gravity Hawt Dang

Kevin Van Winkle, co-founder and head brewer at Endo Brewing Company

Being from New Mexico, I associate fall with green chile roasting season. So, I like chili beers this time of year and I really dig Gravity Brewing’s Hawt Dang. A perfect blonde / pale base beer stuffed with enough habaneros to wake up your face.

Bierstadt Oktoberfest

Neil Fisher, co-owner and head brewer at WeldWerks Brewing Co.

Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Oktoberfest is one of the best examples of the style I’ve ever had, not just here in the states, but EVER! It ticks all the boxes for what you’re looking for in a great Märzen—brilliant clarity, gorgeous amber color, rich melanoidin malt character, creamy yet still balanced mouthfeel, and a perfectly refreshing crisp finish. If I didn’t live in Colorado, I would book a flight to Denver just to visit Bierstadt while their Oktoberfest is on tap.

Jagged Mountain Wet Ryed Fresh Hop Rye IPA

Chris Gilmore, brewery operations at Lone Tree Brewing Co.

Fresh Hop beers are the pinnacle of fall beer drinking. Unfortunately, we aren’t making one at LTBC, but my dear friend, Alyssa, at Jagged Mountain is making a fresh hop beer that I’m super stoked for (she’s also got a Vienna lager in the works that’s sure to be killer).

Big Sky Moose Drool

Mark Theisen, Head Brewer, Coronado Brewing Co.

My favorite fall beer is Moose Drool by Big Sky Brewing. It’s a quintessential brown ale, with a nice malt backbone. It’s a great non-spiced option for the cooler months.

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