"I can't wait for the first pumpkin beer," is something you'll never read on this blog. I started seeing excited tweets about pumpkin beers in early August, and thought it's going to be a long fall. I don't know when pumpkin beers upended tradition and eclipsed Oktoberfest beers as the fall beer of choice, but it is a shame these trite, gimmick beers are now synonymous with autumn. In my experience most pumpkin beers are thin and forgettable - craft beers' version of the Lime-A-Rita*.
There is hope for beer drinkers looking for a traditional fall alternative. ChuckAlek Independent Brewers have a solid Oktoberfest beer, called appropriately Oktoberfest. It's the anti-pumpkin beer, which is the highest compliment I can give it. It is a classic Oktoberfest beer, which is a German Marzen-style lager. Chuck Alek's Oktoberfest's clear, copper color foretells the impending malt. The beer had a rich and complex flavor, more so than other Marzen's I have tried. The strong malt gave Oktoberfest a hint of mineral favor, and a sweetness I was not expecting, but liked. A mid-taste, gentle hop bitterness gave way to a smokey finish, which became stronger through the last half of the glass. Overall, a smooth, full-bodied beer.
My favorite fall beer is an even newer upstart than pumpkin beers, it is the wet hop IPA. As it is only mid-September, it is a bit early in the year for this apostate style.
* Not all pumpkin beers are banal. Dogfish Head's pumpkin beer is
quite good, and if you need a fix of liquid gourd, find this beer.