It seems that as the days get darker, so do our beer choices. So move over pilsner and light wheat, it’s time for hardier brews like Samuel Adams Oktoberfest and Lakefront Pumpkin Lager.
The editors of OnMilwaukee.com are particularly fond of this seasons’ suds offerings, so here are some of their choices for fall beers. As always, feel free to add your own via the Talkback feature. Prost.
Molly Snyder Edler
Picks: Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, Spaten Oktoberfest, Guinness
There are so many great fall-friendly beers, but here are my top picks:
Lakefront Pumpkin Lager -- This spicy brew is the only pumpkin lager in the world (most pumpkin beers are ales.) I love the hint of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon and the foamy head. For me, a liquor store sighting of this seasonal beer is more of an autumn rush than seeing that first blaze-orange leaf.
Spaten Oktoberfest -- It's smooth, it’s malty and it’s made by people whose ancestors invented Oktoberfest. Enough said about this delicious malty lager.
Guinness -- Although Guinness is not a signature fall beverage per se, it’s one that I start to crave during sweater weather. This lower-in-alcohol and lower-in-calories beverage (can you believe it?) is huge on taste and froth.
Picks: Samuel Adams Octoberfest, Rogue Juniper Pale Ale, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Here is my list of fall favorites:
Samuel Adams Octoberfest -- This one was a wonderful surprise, maybe because the brewery is so large? Nevertheless, its homage to Oktoberfest is hardy and sweet enough to be distinct, but not overly so, thanks to the addition of Noble Bavarian hops.
Rogue Juniper Pale Ale -- This one is a four-time world champion; can that many beer drinkers be wrong? Made by Rogue Brewery, Juniper is pretty hoppy and will go great with all those Thanksgiving starches.
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale -- Unlike most pumpkin beers that overdo it with sugar and spice (and it's not all that nice), Smuttynose gets it right with a delicate balance of amber ale and autumnal flavors.
This is going to draw the ire of my Irish friends, but I can't really get into drinking Guinness when the weather is warm. Maybe it's a psychological thing. But, I like drinking Guinness while wearing a fisherman's sweater on a brisk, gray late afternoon/evening or on a frigid, snowy night. It's a great beer. I know why people drink it year-round. But, I guess it is seasonal for me. Summers are for Red Stripe, Tecate and lighter brews.
Picks: Capital Brewery Oktoberfest, Hinterland Oktoberfest, Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
In the same way that my appetitite changes as the days get darker and colder, so does my taste in beer. Both in food and drink, I opt for something a bit more rich and a touch more filling.
After living in Madison for years, Capital Brewery's Oktoberfest became the usual fall tradition. Likewise, Hinterland's Oktoberfest comes on tap later this week to coincide with the changing of the seasons. Both are available only for a few month's every fall, and have medium bodied, slightly sweet flavors that make a great fall tradition.
While Oktoberfest is certainly the seasonal, I love a hoppy beer and Dale's Pale Ale is my newest favorite. Introduced to me by a friend and found sparingly around the city, Dale's is dry and crisp, perfect for a fall day.
Picks: Lakefront Pumpkin Lager and any Oktoberfest beers
I like Lakefront Pumpkin Lager like I like pumpkin pie: while it's good any time of the year, it tastes better in fall when you know 'tis the season. As a guy who enjoy good beer but doesn't go out of his way to seek it, pumpkin brew is one of those few beers that I slow down to sip and savor. But much like martinis, one isn't enough, two is just right, and three is too many.
As for Oktoberfest beers, technically speaking, I don't like them that much. I find them too sweet. But they always remind me of the several years I trekked to La Crosse for their Oktoberfest celebration. For that reason, alone, I make sure to order at least one every fall.