With the blistering hot days of summer coming to a close and autumn upon us, it’s time to head out to our local bottle shop for fall’s best seasonal brews. Most common concoctions seen this time of year are Oktoberfest lagers and various ales brewed with pumpkin, although other styles are released as well. Texas breweries have bubbled up quite a few examples for us to enjoy.
Oktoberfests are traditionally a Märzen-style lager, which most agree originated hundreds of years ago, and began to be associated with the famous festival in Wissen, Germany around 1818. Several local examples are already available from San Antonio and other Texas breweries. Popular choices include Shiner’s Oktoberfest; Oktoberfiesta, brewed with a Belgian Abbey yeast for a unique twist from Freetail Brewing (available late September); an oak-aged Oktoberfest from Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling that will be released later this month; and just up the road from San Antonio, Blanco’s Real Ale Brewing has also released their popular Oktoberfest offering. Be sure to try several examples of the style if you have the chance, as most are similar, but you’ll never find two exactly alike.
While Linus heads outside to await the Great Pumpkin, many breweries have already sent their lot to bottle shops around the U.S. Locally, Freetail will soon brew Otoño Bienvenido, a pumpkin Saison slated for a mid-November release. The guys over at Branchline Brewing will release Pumpkin Hatch Rauchbier, a smoked lager with pumpkin and Hatch peppers, slated for release around Halloween. (Full disclosure: This recipe was created in collaboration with yours truly and headbrewer Les Locke.) Another smoked pumpkin technique can be found in 5 Stones Brewing Co.’s Sleepy Hollow ale.
Releases on the wilder side include a peach Berliner Weiss (a traditional sour wheat ale from Berlin) from The Granary ‘Cue and Brew. In November, Ranger Creek will release Small Batch No.7, an Imperial Sweet Potato Porter, as well as Saison Oscura, a dark Saison out in October. Also available in October will be a dark German Dunkel from Southtown staple Blue Star Brewing.
Locally, due to our lack of apple orchards, we don’t see too much in the way of that other fall favorite, cider. However, nationally, Vermont cider heavyweight Woodchuck will release a fall-tinged variation that combines nutmeg, white oak and cinnamon. It elicits visions of fall-foliage covered mountains and is delicious when paired with pumpkin pie.