Walk into the beer section of any liquor store in September and chances are you’ll stumble over some kind of lofty pumpkin and fall beer display: stacks of six packs and boxes of bombers of pumpkin ales, pumpkin stouts, harvest beers, and Oktoberfest lagers. As if I didn’t spend enough time in the beer aisle scrutinizing labels and analyzing the selection, the sheer volume of pumpkin and fall beers present a new set of problems for the indecisive beer drinker.
You’ve gotta start somewhere though, so I rounded up a few New England-made fall favorites.
Wachusett Brewing Company released their Imperial Pumpkin Ale for the first time last year and this year they made good use of their canning line with the new Pumpkan Ale, a 5.2 percent ABV Amber Ale brewed with—you guessed it—all those pumpkin spices and packaged in 12 ounce cans.
I know several beer drinkers who swear by Cambridge Brewing Company’s Great Pumpkin Ale as the only pumpkin beer they’ll drink. Available in 22 ounce bottles and on draft, it lets the fresh, local pumpkin shine through alongside the nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove, and is 4.5 percent alcohol.
With the incredible variety of pumpkin beers, you could also mix it up with a pumpkin lager—Blue Hills Brewery released their Stingy Jack Pumpkin Lager in bombers this year—or something darker, like Cape Ann Brewing Company’s 7 percent ABV Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout, available in six packs.
Smooth, clean, and malty, there’s a reason Oktoberfest lagers can be consumed in liters—it’s a highly drinkable fall seasonal. Sam Adams’ Octoberfest (5.3 percent ABV) is the New England classic, a malty Marzen beer with a hint of Noble hops.
Another local Okotberfest option comes in the form of Jack’s Abby Copper Legend, 5.9 percent ABV and available in 500 ml bottle four packs. It’s a solid summer to fall transitional beer, brewed with locally grown wheat, Munich malt, and noble hops.
Fall beers need not be all pumpkin spice and everything nice—hop lovers should seek out Peak Organic’s Fall Summit Ale (5.7 percent ABV, available in six packs), which showcases the piney, spicy, and citrusy Summit hop.
Ipswich Ale Brewery also puts the hops forward in their Harvest Ale (6.9 percent ABV, available in 22 ounce bottles, six and twelve packs) that will add a good dose of piney bitterness to your fall beer lineup.
Or you could celebrate the hop harvest with a pint of Wormtown Brewery’s Mass Whole Hop Harvest, a wet hop IPA that uses local hops, and Massachusetts grain malted at Valley Malt. It’s draft only, so plan for pints after an afternoon of leaf raking and/or leaf pile jumping.