There are far better fall brews out there.
Do you remember when you were younger and the family all gathered at Thanksgiving? All the kids were relegated to the “kid table,” which was usually a rinky-dink folding table, and each of you pined to join the world of adulthood one table over, where you watched with genuine bemusement as crazy uncle Larry got more and more sauced on squash casserole?
Oh, you don’t remember that?
Well probably not, because getting drunk on squash casserole is stupid. Nobody does that… because it’s stupid.
Anyway, it’s that fall/Halloween time of year again when consumers get tricked into thinking anything pumpkin is somehow supposed to be a treat—pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cat food, pumpkin spice mac n’ cheese (probably an actual thing), pumpkin spice hot dogs, et cetera. But you know who’s the worst culprit of them all? Pumpkin beer.
Like a vegetable masquerading as a dessert, pumpkin beer is deceitful in that it takes an experience one would normally find enjoyable and makes it decidedly less so. Maybe you like your allspice and clove with a side of beer, and maybe the pumpkin beer you usually drink isn’t that bad and actually made from pumpkins, but trust me, as someone who bartends at a brewery I feel confident to say this emphatically: Getting drunk on squash flavoring is some bullsh*t. No one waits for fall so that they can spike a squash casserole and get hammered. You can do better. And I’m here to help. Here are three other types of beer that will wet your whistle and satisfy your taste buds better than any pumpkin beer could.
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Even though März in German means “March,” don’t be fooled—this is your prototypical Oktoberfest brew. See, they couldn’t brew beer back in the days before refrigeration during the summer months (too hot), so they would make this full-bodied, copper-colored, often malty beer towards the tail end of spring and pull it out of storage to serve at Oktoberfest in the fall. In terms of ABV (alcohol by volume), it’s going to range medium to high, so it’ll get you just as sloshed as pumpkin beer, but without that “Oh, this taste like pumpkin vomit” mouthfeel. And if you’re not a fan of hops, this isn’t going to have the bite of an IPA or pale ale—it’s smooth. You can find Märzen just about everywhere this time of year, and in terms of seasonality it’s the true flagship fall brew.
If you enjoy a good Oktoberfest, you’re going to enjoy a nice amber or red as well. These beers cover a large swath in terms of color palette—anything from translucent amber to a deep red. And like Märzen, they’ll be low on hop volume. Some, such as Irish reds, tend to be a little sweeter, but they’ll generally all be in the middle of the pack in terms of ABV (4.0-6.0%). Amber/red ales will be easy to drink, too, as they tend to be medium-bodied. Not that you’d care, but this is my favorite type of beer. Bonus? They don’t taste like your toddler stomped a pumpkin into mush, poured some water on it, and called it a beer. You know, like pumpkin beer. Hey, did I mention pumpkin beer was stupid? [It’s stupid.]
Cold weather got you in need of something with a little more body to it? Well, a stout is going to be a touch roasty, complex, and satiating. If you could drink your dinner, a stout can definitely sate your hunger. And everyone is already familiar with this type of beer (Guinness, anyone?), so there shouldn’t be a “dip your toes into the pool to see if its cold” type moment you might experience like if someone blended a bunch of pumpkin puree into a bright tank for giggles. Like amber/reds, there are multitudinous different varieties of stouts, too, from milk stouts and imperial stouts to coffee oatmeal and mocha stouts. As the weather gets colder in the fall, you can count on stouts filling you up and satisfying you. They’re also low in ABV, which make them ideal for socializing around an open fire, talking about how terrible pumpkin beer is and how glad you are that you’re not drinking that instead.
So the next time you’re hankering for a sip of fall-flavored suds, for the love of the Great Pumpkin, put down that gross-gourd goulash you’ve been buying and try one of these types of beer instead. You’ll thank me later. Boo.