School is back in session, the air has cooled, and the first leaves are turning. Now that autumn is officially here, you can drink your favorite fall beers without feeling like you’re cheating on summer. The craft beer industry is booming and this season’s best releases chase those light, summer beers off with their full-bodied flavors, unique characteristics and warm, pumpkin spices.
From GAP’s own Blackburn Tavern, we proudly present The Fall Brew Review. We handpicked a wide variety of 11 autumn seasonal beers that included more than just the classic pumpkin ales or Oktoberfest-style lagers. We wrote tasting notes and ranked these beers on a scale of 0 to 5 to bring you our Top 5 Fall Beers. Here are the results:
1. Woodstock Inn Autumn Brew: Out of the 11 beers, Woodstock Inn’s Autumn Brew received the most 5s from the GAP Team, with an average rating of 3.95. This medium-bodied brew is chestnut in color and features apple and cinnamon flavors, with an aroma that pleasantly mixes all your favorite fall scents. Most of our tasters found this beer to be light with satisfying complexity that didn’t overwhelm.
2. Harpoon Octoberfest: If you read our Oktoberfest blog post, you already know that the Oktoberfest tradition started as a wedding ceremony in 1810. It was such a hit, the party became a yearly tradition. Harpoon’s Octoberfest is a favorite around the office, with its full-bodied, complex character. When poured, it has a garnet-red color with firm, creamy head. The beer’s hue is due to the blend of Munich, chocolate, and pale malt. Swirl for a slight hop aroma. Then sip and you’ll find a mild bitterness with a soft, malty finish, which is very enjoyable.
First brewed: 1991
Availability: 6-12 pack bottles/cans, and on draft.
Widely available from August to November
3. Southern Tier Warlock: This moderately-carbonated, dark stout won over several palates with its aroma of pumpkin pie, coffee, and dark chocolate. It features a velvety and slightly sweeter finish than Pumking. It’s best served in a goblet, and its recommended pairings are spicy BBQ and smoked or roasted food. But if you prefer deserts, try it as a float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
First brewed: 2013
Style: Imperial Stout
Availability: Seasonal, September release, 22 oz. bottles or 1/6 keg
4. Southern Tier Pumking: Among GAP’s top-rated pumpkin beers is Pumking. Truly a complex beer with all the pumpkin pie spices you could ask for, and exactly the sweet aroma you’d expect. It’s a medium-to-light-bodied beer with a malty sweetness. If you want to kick it up a notch, serve it with a cinnamon sugar rim.
First brewed: 2007
Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Availability: Seasonal, Mid-July release, 22 oz. bottles or 1/6 keg
5. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale: A full-bodied brown ale, the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale has smooth, malty hints of pumpkin, caramel, and brown sugar. Named after “the seriously off-centered” Southern Delaware extravaganza Punkin Chunkin, Punkin Ale has been around since before Dogfish’s brewery doors opened for business. It made its debut winning first place in the 1994 Punkin Chunkin Recipe contest. And after 20 years, we think it’s still a crowd pleaser.
First brewed: 1994
Style: brown ale
Availability: September, usually gone by Thanksgiving
We also sampledAnchor Brewing's Big Leaf Maple, Ipswich Ale's Brewery's Hop Harvest, The Bruery's Autumn Maple, Slumbrew's Attic and Eaves, Troegs' Hop Knife and Two Roads' Roadsmary’s Baby.
Next up: Winter Seasonals. Look for our next beer tasting review in December!
Look for these Top 5 Fall Brews on our BEER HALL OF FAME on Pinterest!