BeerWise: Fall Beers

As we say good-bye to the crisp lagers and fruit beers of summer, we say hello to the stronger, darker ales of fall.  Before you judge the beer world too harshly for this year’s vast array of fall beer offerings, you should know the fall beer tradition came thousands of years before the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Autumn is the season of harvest.  Harvest is the perfect time to utilize your freshly harvested crops to make beer. Hops are also harvested in fall and while the flavors do store well, you can’t beat the clean and lively bitter of fresh hops in a fall beer. Cooler autumn temperatures require a little extra anti-freeze so the alcohol content of fall beers is usually 1 to 2% higher than the summer brews. Without further ado, let’s take a look at look at two fall beers, old and new.

Drinking Pumpkin

Pumpkin Beers were being brewed long before the advent of the Great Pumpkin Spice craze we’ve seen the past 3 or 4 years. Traditional pumpkin ale is brewed with pumpkin. These pumpkin ales are excellent fall beers and have a sweet, earthy flavor.

Pumpkin Spice lovers have not been denied by the beer world. Many of the recent pumpkin beer offerings feature the very same spices you’ll find in your Pumpkin Spice beverages, breads, and pies. Some of these spiced brews are exceptionally good, so don’t immediately overlook these brews in your fall beer selections.


Märzen Beers are the pride and joy of the famous Bavarian beer and culture festival known as Oktoberfest.  Germans are very particular about their beer to the point where special laws were created to control quantity and quality. In 16th century Bavaria, beer could only be brewed from the end of September until the end of April. In the month of March (Märzen), a special beer was brewed to be served at Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest originated in Munich but has since spread out globally to almost every community with a significant Bavarian German community.  The original Märzen lagers would feature darker malts, a higher alcohol content, and more hops than other beers in order for them to last the 7 months without spoiling. Modern brewers have upheld this tradition but there are subtle flavor differences depending on location and the brew master’s style. No matter the Oktoberfest, you can expect a bold beer that warms your chest. Although you can purchase Oktoberfest-style beers at your local provider, it’ll taste so much better if you’re able to enjoy one at Oktoberfest.

Take time to enjoy one of the fall beers discussed in this article and a few of the growing selection of fall beers available from your local brewer.


Oktoberfest: Photo credit: a4gpa / Foter / CC BY-SA

Drinking Pumpkin: Photo credit: anaxolotl / Foter / CC BY-NC


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  1. David Stanley says:

    There are bunch of Michigan-made marzens that are great. We have a local brewery (Fenton Winery and Brewery) and every fall, they make a smoked porter that I would gladly sell body parts to drink. I’ve also been drinking an Arcadia Ales Nutbrown that is terrific stuff. Party on, Wayne.

    • Is it legal to send beer across the border? If so, I’d like to try those. If not, then you’ll have to save me a couple if I ever make it to your part of the world.

  2. James – I think you can buy Arcadia in Canada.I’ll check on it for you.
    But, yeah, if you leave the country where the govt actually works, and head over here, I’m buying!!

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