RICHMOND, Va. — Fall is a fine time to sample a wide variety of craft beers, because no matter what your activity, there is likely to be a seasonal beer to make it better.
Whether you’re having a Halloween gathering or a Thanksgiving feast, enjoying the fall foliage or taking the family apple picking, there are plenty of brews to help celebrate. They pair well with the foods we tend to crave as the temperatures drop and the leaves get their color.
By nature, craft beers can be hard to come by because of limited production and a small distribution footprint. To help, we’ve gathered a list of some favorite autumn-friendly craft brews that are more widely available, then we clustered according to the festivities they pair best with.
(from Schlafly Beer in St. Louis)
STYLE: Pumpkin ale, 8 percent alcohol
NOTES: Pounds of pumpkin are combined with clove, cinnamon and nutmeg to create what Schlafly Beer says has been referred to as “liquid pumpkin pie.” This full-bodied, deep amber ale is ideal for a Halloween party, pumpkin carving and other autumn celebrations. Goes particularly well with apple pie and smoked meats.
(from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del.)
STYLE: Spiced brown ale, 7 percent alcohol
NOTES: Named after the annual Punkin Chunkin Festival near Lewes, Del., the weekend after Halloween, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale is a go-to fall beer. Punkin Ale is first and foremost a brown ale, but is complemented with more subtle flavors of pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. It loves roast meats and sharp cheddar.
(from Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Calif.)
STYLE: Amber ale, 4.4 percent alcohol
NOTES: This amber ale has a lower alcohol content, which makes it just right for a hike through the woods or other outing to enjoy fall colors. But Stone’s Levitation Ale still packs a lot of flavor, blending malty sweetness with pine and citrus flavors from the hops. Pair it with chicken wings, pork, apple pie and cheesecake.
BOB’S ’47 OKTOBERFEST
(from Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City, Mo.)
STYLE: Oktoberfest/Marzen, 5.8 percent alcohol
NOTES: Bob’s ’47, created to celebrate the annual Oktoberfest beer festival, is an amber beer with toasted malt, nutty, caramel flavors with hints of hops to balance it out. It really wants pretzels with mustard but also is content with hamburgers, pizza, smoked cheese and roasted chicken or pork.
(from Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colo.)
STYLE: Imperial stout, 10.5 percent alcohol
NOTES: With a perfect 100 on RateBeer.com, Ten FIDY is coveted by many craft beer drinkers for its combination of roasted coffee, chocolate and caramel flavors. As the weather gets cooler, an imperial stout is often suggested as a way to warm up. Perfect for a long day of playing and watching football with family, entertaining friends, and enjoying a Thanksgiving meal.
(from Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo.)
STYLE: Imperial Oktoberfest, 10.2 percent alcohol
NOTES: Avery Brewing Co. took a traditional Oktoberfest beer that balances malty sweetness and the spiciness of hops but intensified it to highlight toffee and caramel flavors. It’s crisp and clean but packs a punch. Craft beer drinkers call it a “sipper.” It wants to accompany roast turkey, smoked ribs and traditional Oktoberfest foods such as bratwurst, sauerkraut and potato salad.
(from Green Flash Brewing Co. in San Diego)
STYLE: Triple IPA, 10.1 percent alcohol
NOTES: The beginning of fall usually ushers in malt-heavy beers for Oktoberfest and other festivities, but there are still IPAs out there for those who enjoy hoppy beers. Green Flash’s Green Bullet is a combination of New Zealand-grown Pacific Gem and Green Bullet hops that yields a concoction that starts out sweet with the tastes of pine, citrus, mango and pineapple but finishes on the bitter side. It likes big flavors, so try some apple slices along with some charcuterie, such as prosciutto or serrano ham.
BEST BROWN ALE
(from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Mich.)
STYLE: Brown ale, 5.8 percent alcohol
NOTES: Brown ales walk the line between medium-bodied malty-heavy beers and stronger beers like porters or stouts. Bell’s version of this traditional style is highlighted by toasted malts that impart subtle sweet cocoa flavors, which are balanced with mild, floral hop flavors and a nutty finish. Match it up with roasted pork, grilled salmon, meatloaf and aged Gouda.