When it comes to seasonal beers, there’s no time quite like fall. The light, easy-drinking beers typically associated with warm weather, sunshine, and yardwork give way to heavier-bodied, maltier, and more complex styles that pair perfectly with cool nights and campfires. Historically, beer has always been seasonal. Before the days of refrigeration, the brewing season lasted from the onset of fall through early spring (March), where lower temperatures kept beer fermenting with less opportunity for spoilage. The fall harvest also provided an abundance of both ingredients and time to brew.
Today, with temperature-controlled brewing systems and easy access to ingredients, brewing is less dictated by nature, making fall seasonals a mere nod to beer’s historical origins. But one thing has changed in recent years, and that’s the invasion of pumpkin-spiced everything. When it comes to pumpkin, there are those that love it and those that love to hate it. The mockery of pumpkin beers from beer snobs and homebrewers may very well be a reaction to the fact that some are just bad– imbalanced, artificial, or too heavy on the spice– or it may just be their desire to stay true to old-world styles of the past. No matter your preferences– whether you’re a die-hard traditionalist or more adventurous in your brewing– we have a solid list of pumpkin-free ingredients to bring out the best of fall in your brews this season.
- Cholaca Pure Liquid Cacao is a liquid 100% pure cacao product coming out of Boulder, CO crafted specifically with foodies, baristas, and brewers in mind. Simply add 18-32 ounces to your beer during secondary fermentation to achieve a deliciously, silky, chocolatey flavor. Pick up some Oskar Blues Death By Coconut using Cholaca to taste how it’s being used by commercial brewmasters.
- Chicory Root is a less-common additive with coffee-like characteristics. Try a Chicory Stout.
- Cinnamon Sticks add a nice Fall kick to an Amber or Stout.
- Combine Orange Peel, Anise, Nutmeg, and Ginger and add to an Amber (try the addition Cardamom for a more Christmassy taste).
- Wood Chips/Barrel Alternatives are a good add-on for Fall brews. Simply add to the beer during the secondary fermentation.
- Fruit Purees are also available to order and are a great way to bring sweetness without artificial flavors.
We keep our shelves stocked with a seasonal rotation of ready-to-go Beer Kits, which are great for one-off extract batches and also happen to make great gifts! Try one of the add-on ingredients listed above for a customized style. For Fall, we recommend:
- Milk Stout
- Robust Porter
- Russian Imperial Stout
- Oatmeal Stout
- German Oktoberfest
- Amber Ale
- English Brown Ale