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leaf ornamentThe fall season brings many people outdoors as the raging heat of summer gives way to the crispness of autumn air. And the arrival of the first harvest ushers in a wave of hearty feasts. But one of the best ways to ring in the season has nothing to do with eating corn, pumpkins, or apples. It involves indulging in the many seasonal beers that are released for a limited time from September to November.

The original Oktoberfest or “Marzen” ales from Germany, or an American version of same, can be enjoyed after their unique summer distillation. Marzen, the German word for “March,” refers to the month when the beers begin the distillation process. While most beers are aged in the cold chill of the winter, Oktoberfest Marzens are made in the summer. This leads to a more filling and more intoxicating beer. The original Munich Oktoberfest celebration runs from the end of September to the first weekend in October, where the attendees feast on pretzels, dumplings, roast pork and Würstl, the signature German sausage. The celebration has since expanded into a worldwide tradition, proof, besides that mankind is always looking for a good excuse to get drunk.

Pumpkin ales, apple ciders, mocha porters and other distillations of the harvest can be found from many American breweries as well. So, venture out to the specialty beer markets and sample the work of  local brew masters. Here’s a list of  some of our favorites.....

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest-MarzenHacker-Pschorr

This Munich brewery was founded in 1417, and has been upholding the highest standards of brewing ever since. In their Oktoberfest-Marzen, the eclectic bouquet of Hallertau hops and tan exclusive strain of yeast that spans centuries, brings a rich and hearty taste to the palate. The balance of malt and hops brings a sweet, yet savory flavor with nearly no bitterness. It is a perfect pairing for sausages, cheese and celebrating the Bavarian custom of ringing in the fall harvest. www.hacker-pschorr.deleaf ornamentdivider

Schlafly Pumpkin AleSchafly

By far, this seasonal ale from Shlafly is the finest pumpkin ale on the market. While other breweries simply add pumpkin spice, allspice, or nutmeg to their beers, Schlafly Brewery in St. Louis uses natural pumpkin and butternut squash in the distillation process. The addition of clove nutmeg and cinnamon brings the fall harvest to the bottle. Either for a dessert or a special fall gathering, this pumpkin ale will remind you why the fall is truly worth celebrating. www.schafly.comleaf ornamentdivider

Magic Hat HexMagic Hat Hex

This spooky looking brew from the Magic Hat Brewery is their fall release that they dub, “Our-toberfest.” But make no mistake; this brew is in no way a traditional Marzen. This high-gravity ale is a potion concocted of cherry wood smoked malt and malted rye with Apollo and Hallertaur hops that bite the tongue. But the malted finish leaves a smooth aftertaste of caramel and toffee. This ale is perfect for a bonfire or even an evening of trick-or-treating. www.magichat.netleaf ornamentdivider

Rogue John John Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Each season, the two Johns who are the masRogueter distiller and master brewer of this Oregon brewery release a special version of a popular Rogue brand. In the fall, this special treat is a re-mastering of the Hazelnut Brown Nectar. This spin on an English Brown Ale (like Newcastle), has the unique aroma and flavor of fresh-roasted hazelnuts. For an instant reminder of fall memories, pour the nutty ale into a frosted glass and allow the beer to foam into a full head. Then, place your nose over the glass and breath in its unique fragrance. www.rogue.comleaf ornamentdivider

Left Hand OctoberfestLeft Hand

While being a nontraditional Oktoberfest, and brewed miles away from Bavaria in Colorado, this American creation is as close to the original as you can go. There is a clear floral taste of hops that tickles the senses, but the sweet and toasted malt keeps this ale refreshingly smooth and balanced. The reddish amber color shows that this brewer has used quality ingredients in its Marzen, but the finish makes it seem like a light beer. So, for those who wish to participate in a more “indulgent” Oktoberfest celebration, Left Hand may be the perfect choice as it is much cheaper and lighter on the stomach than a true import. www.lefthandbrewing.comleaf ornamentdivider

Kona Pipeline Porter

Kona Brewing CompanySome may say that the best coffee in the world comes from Columbia. These people have never sailed to the Kona plantations on the islands of Hawaii. The Kona coffee bean has a rich flavor that cannot be matched even in the South Pacific. And the Kona Brewing Company pulls this flavor into their Pipeline Porter by distilling the beer with 100 percent Kona coffee. This limited release is a must for coffee enthusiasts, who may not get to sample the beer that is practically made for them. www.konabrewingco.comleaf ornamentdivider

New Belgium HoptoberNew Belgium

For those who simply cannot imbibe heavy bodied ales or the filling effect they bring, New Belgium Brewing Company releases Hoptober just for you. This is the perfect beer for fall cheeses like a Stilton, Cheddar or Taleggio and its light and refreshing ale has five hops and a mash of rye and oats that combines to make a creamy body with little bite and no heavy feeling afterwards. www.newbelgium.comleaf ornamentdivider

Woodchuck Fall Draft Cider

WoodchuckYou can almost taste the apples, nutmeg and cinnamon as it is grown in the Green Mountains of Vermont. This cider is aged in barrels made of Vermont’s native white oak, a process that adds another autumn ingredient into the mix. For those of you who are not beer drinkers, you probably have already experienced the Amber and Pear Ciders of Woodchuck, but in the limited release Fall Cider, a brand new apple cider experience awaits you. www.woodchuck.comleaf ornament / Issue 114 - September 0163
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