Fall beers worth the brouhaha

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Other fall beers often get overlooked for pumpkin-flavored varieties

Beers with hints of spice and warmth are perfect for autumn

Try these craft brews, made in smaller batches by independent producers

CNN  — 

It’s officially fall, which means people are haunted by pumpkin. From seasonally spiced lattes to unexpected pumpkin-flavored items like Greek yogurt and potato chips, it’s no surprise that this time of year you’re likely to be offered a squash-style beer.

While we fully support pumpkin-flavored brews, there are so many other great beers that often get overlooked on these cool autumn nights. 

So, we did what any beer lover should do – head over to a highly regarded beer bar (in this case, The Porter in Atlanta) and conduct some extensive research. And by that, we mean we sampled as many beers as we could to come up with a list of some you should be drinking this fall. Don’t worry, there are a few pumpkin-flavored brews at the end of the list, too.

Märzenbier – Westbrook Brewing

Märzen (Oktoberfest-style amber lager) 6% ABV

This amber lager is malty but light enough that you could drink a few and not feel too sloshed. There’s no heavy aftertaste, either. Instead, it’s crisp like a fall evening.

Zombie Killer – B. Nektar Meadery

Cider 6% ABV

This apple cider is nice and tart, but not too sweet. The cherry notes help round out this beer, giving it a deeper, apple pie flavor.

Warrior Fresh Hop – Left Hand Brewing

IPA 7.6% ABV

This in-your-face hoppy beer is a good combo of bitter and floral notes. It almost tastes like pine trees, which is perfect for the colder weather.

Oktoberfest Märzen Lager – Left Hand Brewing

Märzen 6.6% ABV

Be forewarned: You can’t taste the 6.6% alcohol by volume on this malty beauty. It’s refreshing with hints of spice and warmth. If we were going to start a beer garden, this would be the first one on our list.

Dark Penance – Founders Brewing Company

Black Imperial IPA 8.9% ABV

This beer is a little tricky to describe. If you’re looking for a switch-up from your regular IPA, this one is the way to go. It’s pine-flavored and bitter, but very well balanced.

Chris Banker/Stone/Insurgente Xocoveza Mocha Stout – Stone Brewing Co.

Milk stout 8.1% ABV

This mocha stout won Stone Brewing Company’s home brew competition this year. Though it might be hard to find, it’s well worth the effort. It smells like freshly brewed coffee, and tasted like an alcoholic mocha milkshake. A contender as a dessert beer, the hints of heat and vanilla will keep you going back for more.

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    Old Rasputin – North Coast Brewing Company

    Russian Imperial stout 9% ABV

    If you can’t get your hands on the Xocoveza, the Old Rasputin is a good option and sometimes easier to find. With its predominantly chocolate flavor, it’s a great choice if you’re just venturing into stouts.

    Autumn Maple – The Bruery

    Belgian-style brown ale 10% ABV

    The brewer’s description of this beer says it has 17 pounds of yams per bottle (you don’t even need to eat your veggies, just drink this!), but it’s not overwhelmingly sweet. It’s a great alternate to pumpkin beers with the same warmth and spice.

    L’Affriolante – Le Bilboquet Microbrewery

    Spiced beer 7% ABV

    Though it’s available year-round, this is a perfect fall beer. It’s smoky with hints of honey and malt. It smells – and tastes – like whiskey. What could possibly be wrong with that?

    Lambicus Blanche – Brewery Timmermans

    Witbier 4.5% ABV

    This lambic/wheat blend is unique. Lambics are fruit-based beers, but the Blanche combines that fruitiness with malted wheat. It’s fruity and spicy, sweet and tart, and ideal for the fall.

    Couch Trippin’ Fusion 24Lagunitas Brewing Company

    Red ale 5% ABV

    This beer is part of the dry-hopped family. It’s a process best described by the experts at Brew365.com as “adding hops into your beer after the onset of fermentation.” The Lagunitas version uses experimental hops and is surprisingly easy to drink.

    Why you crave pumpkin flavors in the fall

    Gored – Avery Brewing Company

    Pumpkin ale 5.30% ABV

    If we were going to drink a pumpkin beer, it’d very likely be this one as it’s not overwhelmed by pumpkin spice. It’s a nice mild to medium flavor that’s not too sweet. Hops help give this beer some body, but it’s still very refreshing.

    Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Weyerbacher Brewing Company

    Pumpkin ale 8% ABV

    This beer smells and tastes exactly the way you’d expect fall to – like a baked pumpkin pie. Sweeter than the Avery ale, the Weyerbacher option yields a nice combo of clove and cinnamon. This is a good beer to graduate to from the Avery if you’re just starting to try pumpkin beers.

    Pumpking – Southern Tier Brewing Company

    Pumpkin ale 8.6% ABV

    This beer was a lot sweeter than we were expecting, and it could almost be considered a dessert beer. It tastes like a sweet pumpkin pie – Graham cracker crust included. The pumpkin flavor isn’t too overwhelming, and there are notes of brown sugar and honey.

    Punkin – Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales

    Brown ale 7% ABV

    Of the pumpkin-flavored beers we tried, this had the mildest pumpkin flavor. It’s malty and not too sweet, with hints of spice and warmth.

    Did Starbucks start the pumpkin boom?