Don’t shed a tear for summer’s end. When the calendar — and eventually the weather — flips to fall, you have plenty of reasons for autumnal adoration. And it’s not just those who enjoy sweater weather after a sweltering summer. Beer drinkers can rake in piles of deliciously different fall beers.
Fall drinking means letting the leaves be your guide. You can switch to suds with a little more color — ambers, copper, and more. And luckily, there’s also a festival tailor-made for celebrating these fantastic fall creations.
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Oktoberfest has interesting origins in Bavarian royal weddings and horse races.
What is now a 16- to 18-day annual celebration originated in the early 1800s.
In 1810, according to the Beer Bible and other sources, Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig the First, married Princess Therese Charlotte Luise of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Citizens of Munich were invited to attend a celebration commemorating the royal event.
The closing ceremony included horse races and a feast for all of Bavaria. It was the next year that organizers decided to repeat the horse races, thus giving rise to the Oktoberfest tradition.
The modern-day Oktoberfest is as much a celebration of culture as it is about amazing fall beers. That’s good news. Since this is a beer website, we’ll avoid the lederhosen discussions and put the focus directly on the drinking.
Here are a few examples of maltier, substantial, and colorful beers to fill your stein with this fall.
Uinta Brewing — Fest German-Style Helles
For pilsner drinkers especially, a helles can be heavenly. This German-style lager is a great transition from the crisp, refreshing beers of the summer.
It shares the balanced drinkability of some of the best BBQ beers. But it also brings a bigger malt presence and an accompanying substantial mouthfeel. That’s perfect for those cooler nights of late summer and early fall.
Bohemian Brewery — Oktoberfest
It’s no surprise Utah’s leader in Old World brews nails its Oktoberfest offering.
This copper-colored lager is a marzen — one of the most popular styles for Oktoberfest. It leans more into the malt, but has enough hops to balance everything out.
Bohemian’s Oktoberfest provides a bready, slightly toasty sip that is easy going down all the way through your large liter mug.
Ninkasi Brewing Company — Oktoberfest Seasonal
Take a trip up to Oregon with a lighter, interesting Oktoberfest out of Eugene.
Ninkasi does a lot of things right, and this beer is no exception.
It doesn’t have the traditional German or noble hop profile. Using hops grown in Oregon gives this lighter Oktoberfest beer a unique aroma and complex flavor. The light toasted malt and different, complex hopping makes this more than your typical Oktoberfest beer. And that’s a good thing.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — 2018 Oktoberfest
Teaming up with a Bavarian brewery (Weihenstephan, in this case) is a great way to ensure your Oktoberfest is authentically delicious.
Collaborating with the oldest brewery in the world is the way to produce one of the most celebration-worthy beers of fall. It captures the spirit of the festival with a perfect balance of complex malt — toasty with some slight caramel notes — and European hops. This beer’s beautiful orangey copper color also pairs perfectly with fall.
Epic Brewing Company — Imperial Pumpkin Porter
There’s no proper discussion of fall without pumpkin and its popular spice sidekick.
You don’t have to love a pumpkin spice latte or even a pumpkin beer to appreciate fall. But it helps. And Epic gives pumpkin beer haters (guilty as charged) a few second thoughts with their Imperial Pumpkin Porter.
It throws fresh pumpkin and familiar spice flavors onto a chocolatey, roasted canvas. The result is a pleasant, slightly sweet sipper that’s good for being on brand for fall in a more interesting way.
Fall in Love with Oktoberfest Fall Beers
Whether it’s a marzen or helles or an Oktoberfest beer by any name, drink up. Fall beers are placed perfectly to fill in the gap between the summer slammers and weighty winter beers.
They pour out a little more malt, a few more roasty-toasty notes, and a splash of seasonal color. And they work great as a celebration of the harvest or your first tailgate party where sweaters are required.
The IPAs will always be there. And stout season is right around the corner — ready to blow in with the winter weather. But fall beers are fleeting, so enjoy them while you can.
What did we miss?
Tell us in the comments what your favorite Oktoberfest or fall beer is to sip while you watch the leaves turn.
Label artwork/imagery © respective breweries