We’re not here to pile on with more anti-pumpkin hate speak. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with drinking a pumpkin beer. Some of my best friends drink pumpkin beers. We even took the time to systematically taste and rank nearly 60 of them recently. But let’s face it: pumpkin beers aren’t for everyone. And if you find yourself in this anti-pumpkin camp, or maybe even just looking to expand your horizons beyond the gourd, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight seasonally appropriate, but pumpkin free beers and ciders for the holidays.
Style: American Porter
Did I say the (512) was my favorite porter? Because this one is definitely in the mix. Most people expect pumpkin beers during the fall, overlooking two other classic fall flavors and aromas: camp fires and graham crackers. The Denver Beer Co. Graham Cracker Porter tastes exactly like a night around a fire. Smoky wood flavors meet mulling spices meet the sweetness of a golden graham. If you could can a cozy fall night, this would be the result.
When making this list, I tried to avoid Oktoberfest beers. That’s a whole other list in itself. But the Surlyfest is a delicious, unique, definitely fall take on the style. Brewed with three types of rye and single hopped, the Surlyfest is crisp, rich, and hoppy. If you’re not looking to get into winter ales and porters, this beer can provide a lighter option, while still pairing well with the chill in the air and the changing of the leaves.
Style: Winter Ale
Deschute’s Jubelale is made for one of those colder, maybe grey fall days that reminds you that winter is just around the corner. One of those days when pumpkin is the last thing on your mind. We’re way passed pumpkin at this point. Jubelale is toasty, roasty, and warm, with notes of cocoa, toffee, and winter spices. It’s the beer equivalent of a nice crocheted blanket.
Style: Barrel Aged Scotch Ale
Beware of the Backwoods Bastard. He appears every November, entices you with his boozy, caramel flavors, and secretly ushers you straight into winter. Founder’s Backwoods Bastard is rich and creamy, soaked in bourbon and oak notes, and packs a punch at 11.6% ABV. So start the fire, find your spot on the couch or in your favorite chair, and enjoy the last moments of fall.
Style: Barrel Aged Cider
While you’ve spent the last month preparing for the changing of the seasons, Virtue has spent the last year doing the same. The Mitten is a simple apple cider aged in bourbon barrels for three seasons. They take the best apples from last season, turn them into cider, and let them age in bourbon for a year, creating an interesting balance of tart juiciness combining with the sweet vanilla and caramel notes you would expect from a barrel aged beer. So whether you’re feeling adventurous, or simply can’t decide between a cider and a winter ale, give The Mitten a spin this fall.
Style: Chai Brown Ale
If you’ve ever been caught wearing a sweater and trying to decide between a warm, spiced tea and a delicious fall beer, this is 100% what you should order. Avery’s Chai High has the color and creaminess of a brown ale, with all of the fall spices of a nice cup of chai. It’s a good blend of spicy and sweet, warm fall drink and beer. The only problem? It’s a tap room only release. Road trip.
Style: American Porter
In the ever growing craft beer scene in Austin, Texas, (512) has become a bit of a staple. This beer is served all year round in Austin, but is perfect for the two or three days of fall weather enjoyed in Texas. Don’t let the dark, almost black color scare you away. The Pecan Porter is a nice balance of malts and nutty sweetness. The local pecan aromas and flavors are a nice touch, making this one of my favorite porters out there. You’re just going to have to be in Texas to drink it, because (512) only distributes on draft within the state.