Like Christmas decorations and NFL football, autumnal brews generally precede their rightful season by at least six weeks. Gold stars to all who held out for that first sip of spicy pumpkin ale or crisp Oktoberfest lager accompanied by a cozy sweatshirt on a cool evening. Here, six seasonals to set the hayride-and-Halloween mood.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
Brewed in the heart of Bavaria, this clean amber lager is the quintessential Oktoberfest pour. Lightly roasted malts give caramel and toffee notes and an apple-like finish; soft spiciness is contributed by yeast.
Available at The Foodery, 837 N. Second St.
Southern Tier Pumking
At 8.6 percent ABV, this gourd-rattling pick is not to be trifled with. Plenty of spiced pie flavor – complete with graham cracker crust aroma – is jammed into this sticky tipple, the heaviest and most alluring of a crowded pumpkin ale field.
Available at The Bottle Shop, 1837 E. Passyunk Ave.
Cricket Hill Fall Festivus
A favorite of local publican Fergie Carey (Fergie’s, Monk’s Café, Nodding Head), this harvest ale balances earthy malts and floral, piney hops in an easy-drinking Oktoberfest style, brewed almost-locally in Fairfield, New Jersey.
Available at The Foodery and The Bottle Shop
Dark gold, with a nutty aroma, this fest beer is ideal for sessioning during Sunday football, and pleases a crowd with a lightly sweet malt-driven profile and mellow hops.
Available at Hawthornes Café, 738 S. 11th St.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen
Brewed specifically to accompany the smoked sausages of Bamberg, Germany, this assertive elixir is basically liquid bacon. Though available year-round, fall is the best time to pair this smoked-malt lager with late-season barbecue and other hearty fare.
Available at Hawthornes Café
Bruery Autumn Maple
Orange County, California may be short on fall foliage and sweater weather, but you’d never know it from the warming cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, maple syrup -- and 17 lbs. of yams per barrel — loaded into this stellar, boozy (10 percent ABV) new entry into the pumpkin beer category.
Available at The Bottle Shop