What I’m Drinking: Fall 2014

I love Fall. The weather gets cooler without being too cold, football is on every Sunday, and I start eating hearty food and drinking darker beer. The one issue I run into: I don’t like pumpkin beer. This isn’t a soap-box moral opposition thing, I have no problem with the concept of pumpkin beer, I just don’t like that profile of flavors. I don’t like pumpkin pie either, just not a set of flavors that agrees with my palate. The issue with this is trying to find tasty, exciting and seasonally appropriate beers to drink in the fall. Pumpkin beers used to be a niche category, but now it seems like every brewery makes a pumpkin flavored brew in the fall (or in July). So what beers should I, and other people who dislike pumpkin beers or are a little burnt out on cinnamon and nutmeg, drink this fall?

While I love IPAs, I need a little break from hop-bomb beers right now. Every so often it is nice to step away from IPAs and mix it up. This way you appreciate them more when you go back. With the cooler weather moving in I am in the mood for something rich and malty. So here is my goal for the Fall, and where I need your help. I want to focus my fall reviews on darker/maltier beers, especially lagers. I am thinking marzens, bocks, dopplebocks, and schwarzbiers/black lagers. I’ll probably mix in some brown and amber ales, but I’d really like the next few months to be lager-centric. Unfortunately, while I could probably review a different pumpkin beer each day of the Fall, my selections of these styles are much more limited. This is where I need help from my readers. What are some great malty/dark lagers that I need to try? I’d like to focus on New England beers, but anything that is available in the Boston area is in play. I’ll start a list of potential beers here and update as you send along suggestions. Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Suggestion list:

Marzen: Sam Adams Octoberfest, Jack’s Abby Copper Legend, Element Altoberfest, Idle Hands Brocktoberfest, Harpoon Octoberfest, Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest, Narragansett Fest

Bock/Dopplebock: Troegs Troeganator, Jack’s Abby Saxonator, Thomas Hooker Dopplebock, Rogue Dead Guy, Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock

Black Lager: Jack’s Abby Cascadian Schwarzbier, Full Sail Session Black




  1. My favorite Octoberfest by far is from Wachusett. I’m not a fan of the marzen style in general, but I find that beer quite enjoyable. It’s really the only one I’ll purposely buy or quaff. I may not be much help as far listing various dark/malty lagers goes either, but I have some suggestions and opinions that may be useful.
    I don’t drink many bocks of any kind, however I have taken a liking to a couple Rauchbiers Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen. I prefer the Urbock, but it definitely has an exagerated smokiness in the aroma and flavor paired with a medium to heavy body and creamier mouthfeel. Jack’s Abbey Smoke and Dagger is a milder less refined version of the Marzen.
    Black Ales/Lagers are another style that like you I’ve struggled to find a favorite. That is until I tried Weez from Maine Beer Company. Same hop profile as Another One but with darker malts. The black malt flavor is tempered and fits very nicely. I can’t say I prefer it to Another One, but I’d put it close to on par. Their Amber Ale, Red Wheelbarrow is quite a bit darker than normal for the style and expresses a similar and enjoyable hop and malt balance without any use of black malts. Bekshire has a Black IPA in their Brewer’s Series. Better than decent, but still I ask why add the black malt at all. In any case the flavor changes radically as this beer ages. Fresh it’s loaded with toasted malt and coffee notes. After a month or two the hops and citrus flavors take over. Odd actually as most beers become less hopforward and more malty as they age, this beer in particular somehow does the opposite.
    A bit off topic, but where my palate is at these days are the uber fresh Harvest Ales/Lagers. These tend to almost be underbittered but in the best cases packed with robust aroma and flavors from both the hops and malts. Hop Knife by Troeg’s and Harvest Ale by Goose Island are my current top two. I also can’t pass up the chance to recomment Green Jack Gone Fishing ESB. I have yet to fathom why it gets only mediocre ratings, but I personally find the malt flavor profile possibly the best I’ve tried. Beyond that when I want to taste malt and not just the let the hops burn most other flavors from my togue I’m looking for a Porter or Sweet Stout. Amherst Brewing Company’s Puffers Smoke Porter is sublime as was Otter Creek’s Stovepipe until they discontinued it. I also really enjoy Stone’s smoke porter with Vanilla Beans, but not most other variations. As far as Sweet Stouts are concerned, you cannot get better than Wormtown’s Sweet Tats’ and Norm, both of which will hopefully be in the brew cycle soon.

    1. Thanks for all of the suggestions! I also enjoy porters and stouts when I get burned out on hops, but I am trying to get outside of my comfort zone a bit and focus on lagers. I’ll try some of the fresh hops/harvest ales as well this fall. As far as black ales, I agree that many have a weird flavor mix, I liked Weez but prefer Another One. One local black IPA I really enjoyed was Blue Hills Black Hops. I’ll check out the one from BBC. Hopefully as part of this I can find some more good dark lagers and I’ll have some good suggestions to make by the end of the fall!

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