Associate Sports Editor
For many, fall is for the spooky season and pumpkin spice. Here at the Snapper Sports, fall indicates the beginning of basketball and hockey season, the halfway mark of football season and of course, the Fall Classic. What better way to enjoy the best time period for sports than with some fall beers?
When most people think of fall drinks pumpkin spiced lattes and apple cider come to mind. However, for beer enthusiasts, many craft breweries come out with Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers that hit the spot this time of year. Not every Oktoberfest or pumpkin beer is essentially the best, but here are the Snapper Sports Section picks for the best pumpkin or Octoberfest beer for the fall:
- Blue Moon is one of my go-to beers on any night, however, their pumpkin wheat brew is the first pumpkin beer I have had, and it is the only one that I will continue to consume. Given to me as a gift, I wasn’t sure what to expect as this was my first experience with a pumpkin beer. Coming in at 5.7% ABV, Blue Moon’s pumpkin wheat is a nice balance between a light and a stronger beer. It incorporates pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. I was pleasantly surprised with my first sip. I was hit with the initial flavor of the signature wheat flavor that Blue Moon is notorious for and then was hit with a smooth pumpkin flavor. I’m not a huge pumpkin guy, but I am definitely all in on Blue Moon’s pumpkin wheat. Blue Moon’s pumpkin wheat is served from August-October.
- You can’t do a fall beer list without including an Oktoberfest. My go to Oktoberfest is from Great Lakes Brewing Company out of Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve had a good amount of Oktoberfests, but nothing hits my taste buds quite like this gem of one. Coming it at 6.5% ABV, it’ll have that signature German taste that you would expect from any Oktoberfest. However, the maltiness and the smoothness is second to none. I’ve always been a Sam Adams guy when it came to Oktoberfests, but Great Lakes has taken the crown for me as the ultimate Oktoberfest beer. The only bad thing about it is that it can be hard to find here in Pennsylvania, but it is definitely worth picking up if you can find it at a distributor.
- I’m a big fan of IPAs, and my favorite IPAs come from Dogfish Head Brewery based out of Delaware. Their signature fall beer is the Punkin Ale, and it’s a mix of pumpkin and brown sugar. Punkin Ale is brewed with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. This smooth, amber beer is a perfect balance of an Oktoberfest and a pumpkin beer and it gives IPA fans what they want with a 7.0% ABV, which is on the higher end when it comes to pumpkin beers. Again, the Punkin Ale is going to be tough to find at your local store, but you won’t be disappointed if you can find it.
- The first beer on the list for me is Shipyard Pumpkinhead. Pumpkinhead will not knock you over after just one with an ABV of 4.5%, but the beer has the distinct pumpkin flavor. Mixing together spices of cinnamon and nutmeg that enhances the pumpkin flavor, the beer goes down smooth and light. If you haven’t tried that many pumpkin beers and are looking to get into them, Pumpkinhead is a great place to start.
- The next beer on my list is Lancaster Baked Pumpkin Ale. What Lancaster brewing provides here is a beer that will remind you of your grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie. Within this beer, the flavor of vanilla and pumpkin really jump off the taste buds. This beer is definitely for the more experienced beer drinkers who like bold flavor and higher percent beers. Clocking in at an ABV of 7.5%, Baked Pumpkin Ale is best when sipped on and enjoying Thanksgiving football.
- Coming in at number three, Shipyard makes a return with their Smashed Pumpkin. Not to be confused with the Pumkinhead, the Smashed Pumpkin has an ABV of 9.0% and has a big body that will sooth the most experienced beer drinkers. Brewed with pale ale, wheat, and light munich malts mixed with pumpkin and saphir and hallertau hops, Smashed Pumpkin is one beer that needs to be enjoyed during the fall season. Shipyard is one of the best when it comes to seasonal beers and they hit it out of the park with both the Pumpkinhead and Smashed Pumpkin.
- Two Roads Roadsmary’s Baby is another one of those fall beers to enjoy while your favorite football team is playing. Their pumpkin ale is a rum barrel-aged ale that gives the beer a little bit of a different taste. A variety of flavors including, pumpkin, vanilla, oak, spices, and a hint of rum, makes this beer full of flavor. Topping out at a 6.8% ABV the beer is perfect for someone looking to expand their variety of fall beers. Typically released starting in August, the beer is around for three-four months through the fall season, so be sure to pick up a six-pack to enjoy.
- The final beer on my list I may be a little biased towards. Not because I am from New Jersey, but because I have never had a beer from here that I didn’t like. Cape May brewing offers an Oktoberfest that is one for the ages. Just like their IPA, or Coastal Evacuation, which is their double IPA, the Oktoberfest goes down popping with flavors. Anyone who has had a Cape May brew knows that within all their beers the hopes are very lively. Even with a beer like the Oktoberfest, the hopes are still there exploding with flavor. The Oktoberfest is brewed with Vienna, Munich, Pilsen, and Melanodian malts which gives the beer its German style and swagger. If you are ever in South Jersey, Cape May Brewery is a must stop and I promise you will not be disappointed by anything they offer.
With all these great beers on the list, you will not go wrong with any of them. Be sure to try some of them while watching your favorite team on Sunday, family gathering at Thanksgiving, or on a crisp fall weekend spent home raking leaves.