Brace yourselves… The pumpkin beers are coming!
In the craft beer community now days, fall generally means two things: pumpkin beer and Oktoberfest. The former tends to get the noses of beer nerds everywhere thumbed at it, while the latter is lauded as a traditional treat for the discerning drinker who likes to take this time of year to celebrate Germany’s rich heritage of alcoholism.
While we here at FirstAndMonday.com know that our readers have no issues with fostering their alcoholism, we did think that their matter of taste may be… Questionable. To rectify that, we’ll recommend the best of the best in both of these seasonal categories so you can try to pry yourself away from the trust ole’ Natty Light.
First, the Oktoberfest.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen and Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen are the only two German-made Oktoberfest brews you ever need to know about in our (not so) humble opinion. Tradition is the name of the game for both of these beers and they never disappoint.
Sweet caramel malts will dominate the experience with just the right amount of lingering hop bitterness that mark the style. Paulaner actually makes and distributes their Oktoberfest Marzen all year long, but Ayinger only produces theirs in the fall so look for it beginning in September in the United States.
For us, the best American-made Oktoberfest beer comes from Great Lakes Brewing Company, widely simply known as GLBC, out of Cleveland, OH. GLBC is extremely well known in the region for their wide range of quality beers, but this is one of their best offerings. It’s everything this style should be. Unfortunately, distribution for GLBC is limited to largely to the mid-Atlantic region of the US, ranging from Minnesota to as far south as North Carolina.
If you really want to try an Octoberfest and the above options elude you, Sam Adams Octoberfest is worth a try as well. It’s not as good as the other options that we’ve laid at your feet, but it’s not the worst either. It’s probably one of the best beers that Sam Adams… Er, excuse us, the Boston Beer Company, makes. If you’re looking for the entry level, this is it.
Now, on to those pumpkin beers. Much like the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, white girls who “love beer!” tend to love pumpkin beer. They’re just so festive! Seemingly every brewery on planet Earth has tried their hand at a pumpkin beer now and with hugely varying degrees of success. They hit the shelves earlier and earlier now days, having landed as early as mid-August in many markets.
Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing in Southern Tier, NY is a staple of the genre. It used to be a sort of hard to come by treat for year-round craft beer nerds, but with huge upticks in production in recent years, this one is now pretty easy to find just about anywhere within the Southern Tier distribution footprint which is basically everywhere east of the Mississippi and a large portion of the left coast as well. They even distribute to Alaska, so that’s something.
The real classic of this… class, is Good Gourd, the pumpkin ale offering from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL. CCB is a pioneer in the craft beer industry and like most things that they do, Good Gourd just doesn’t fit into the mold set forth by its counterparts. Zanzibar cloves and Jamaican all-spice are what they say sets this one apart and it’s unlike any other pumpkin ale out there. Unfortunately, CCB only distributes within the state of Florida and other small areas in the south so good luck getting your hands on this one if you’re outside of the Sunshine State.
Now, get out there in your North Face fleece and Ugg boots (if you’re a white girl) and grab some pumpkin beer! Oh, and Oktoberfest… If you want to try to be a man today.