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Eat and Drink

Fall beers: Beyond the usual pumpkin

This article was going to be all about how there was more to autumn beer than pumpkin-flavored brews.

Turns out, it's almost impossible to avoid them.

"People have really just jumped onto the pumpkin wagon," said Andrew Reed, a sales manager at the craft division of Manhattan Beer Distributors, the second-largest distributor of beer in the city. "A lot of breweries are trying to get away from anything but pumpkin."

Still, there's enough variety amidst the onslaught of fall beers to find novel twists on the same old pumpkin brew -- and even some that forego the orange squash altogether.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

This is one of the best-selling pumpkin beers
Photo Credit: Shipyard Brewing Co.

This is one of the best-selling pumpkin beers in the country, produced by Shipyard Brewing Co. out of Portland, Maine. Pumpkinhead Ale is a 4.5% ABV wheat-based brew, and the lack of malt flavor “helps the pumpkin and spice shine through,” Reed says. “You don’t get a lot of sweetness on your tongue. You get that pumpkin mid-palate.”

Two Roads' Roadsmary’s Baby

This one will go over great at your
Photo Credit: Two Roads Brewing Co.

This one will go over great at your next Halloween party or while you watch “Rosemary’s Baby.” This 6.8% ABV brew from Two Roads Brewing Co. in Stratford, Conn., is aged in rum barrels “for added complexity and depth of flavor.” Reed says “you get a little vanilla and touch of oak and rum.”

Southern Tier Harvest

Southern Tier Brewing Co. calls Harvest its “celebration
Photo Credit: Southern Tier Brewing Co.

Southern Tier Brewing Co. calls Harvest its “celebration of the change of seasons.” It’s a 6.7% ABV English-style Extra Special Bitter that is golden ruby in color. “It’s relatively refreshing and bitter at the same time,” says Joshua Tussin, a sales manager at Union Beer Distributors.

Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale

Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., of Elmsford, N.Y., brews
Photo Credit: Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.

Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., of Elmsford, N.Y., brews this amber ale with natural pumpkin puree. Pumpkin spice is added along the way to the finished 5% ABV product. Even after all that, the taste is on the lighter side. “It’s kind of a pumpkin beer for those who don’t like pumpkin,” Reed says.

Bronx Brewery Autumn Pale Ale

For its newest fall beer, the Bronx Brewery
Photo Credit: Bronx Brewery

For its newest fall beer, the Bronx Brewery is embracing the flavors of the apple for its 6.5% ABV Autumn Pale Ale. But don’t call it a cider. Head Brewer Damian Brown says apple juice only makes up “a quarter of the volume” but that it’s “very much a beer in taste and aroma.”

Sixpoint Sensi Harvest

Sixpoint of Red Hook, Brooklyn, has not only
Photo Credit: Sixpoint

Sixpoint of Red Hook, Brooklyn, has not only refused to jump on what it calls the “must-have” pumpkin bandwagon, it has also revamped its seasonal strategy to avoid well-worn styles. Instead, they are focusing on inspiration, formulation and “great beer.” That said, the company recently introduced Sensi Harvest, a 4.7 ABV brew that uses wet hops — meaning the flowers were picked from the bine fresh and put immediately into the brewing process. “It’s like the beer version of farm-to-table,” Tussin says.

Woodchuck Fall Harvest Cider

Woodchuck combines its Vermont apples with the flavors

Woodchuck combines its Vermont apples with the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and American white oak to make its fall cider. The company says it tastes just “like apple pie.”

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