Perhaps no season captures the imagination of beer drinkers more than fall: pumpkin spices, football, big steins full of malty lager, crisp afternoons and evenings, some high ABVs to warm the stomach.
The two most popular fall styles, of course, are pumpkin beers
and Oktoberfest-style marzen lagers
(and they dominate this list), but Colorado's craft breweries love to bring out all kinds of toasty treats at this time of year (regardless of the current heat wave), including beers made with seasonal ingredients like chiles, yams and fresh hops.
There are also a few new beers on the horizon that you might not associate with fall — but just the same, they are on their way to a brewery, bar or liquor store near you. Here are a few brand-new (or nearly new) packaged beers that you can already find right now as August turns to September.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Although Crooked Stave began its life as a sour and wild ale producer, the brewery long ago moved into a wide variety of other styles, including hazy IPAs, pastry stouts and, yes, lagers. This year, it looks like the brewery will be canning a 6 percent ABV Oktoberfest, and if its past lagers have been any indication, it should be stellar.
Leafer Autumn Lager
Wiley Roots Brewing
Okay, so this beer isn't new; a limited amount was packaged last year. But it's new to me, and I love the name. Plus, Wiley Roots has expanded its distribution footprint in recent months. "Inspired by a traditional German Märzen...Leafer has a malty brown-sugar aroma and toffee sweetness up front that’s balanced by a mild bitterness that quickly gives way to a slight crackery, malty sweetness, which lingers into the finish without being cloying," the brewery says. It is available now on the brewery's website.
Telluride Brewing, at an altitude of 8,750 feet, definitely feels the seasons, and the brewery loves making seasonal beers. But Telluride also loves naming its beers after head brewer and co-owner Chris Fish. The result this time around is a new beer called Oktoberfish, a German-style marzen that should see limited distribution in these amazing lederhosen cans along the Front Range this week or next.
Another unusual offering from Cervezeria Colorado, an offshoot of Denver Beer Co., Churro Stout has been making fast friends on tap over the past two years for its enticing combination of chocolate malt, cinnamon, vanilla beans and lactose sugar. But in September, the brewery will begin canning the beer and selling it in six-packs all over Colorado. Perfect for fall, this smooth stout is brewed with real churros.
St. Vrain Tripel Ale
Left Hand Brewing
St. Vrain Tripel isn't a new beer — it has been packaged in various bottle sizes over the years — but it hasn't been brewed in a few years, and this is the first time it will appear in cans, and with an updated label. Weighing in at 9.3 percent ABV, this sweet and spicy Belgian-style ale will certainly warm you up on a chilly night.
Great Divide Brewing
The past few years haven't been kind to pumpkin ales. They grew in popularity so fast that they glutted the short fall season, forcing breweries to put them on the shelves earlier and earlier in order to compete. The result was massive stacks of warm pumpkin beers clogging up liquor-store aisles in early August — and remaining there into November. So breweries scaled way back, some dropping pumpkin from their rotation entirely to jump on the Marzen bandwagon. The pumpkin situation is much more restrained now, which gave Great Divide Brewing, which had never packaged a pumpkin beer, an entry into that market. This year, the brewery debuted not just one pumpkin beer, but two (both in August). The first is Pumpkin Ale, a malty brown ale with notes of pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. It is available now in twelve-ounce canned six-packs.
Pumpkin Spice Yeti
Great Divide Brewing
The new king of the pumpkin beers may very well be the elusive Pumpkin Spice Yeti. Although Great Divide has served this before on tap, it has never packaged it (which is surprising, in retrospect). An imperial stout, Pumpkin Spice Yeti was brewed with coffee from local roaster Pablo's and a variety of seasonal spices that go really well with the roasty base beer. You can find it now in 19.2-ounce cans.
New Belgium Brewing (Kirin)
And finally, here's an interesting label from New Belgium, which so far has remained committed to its sour and specialty program after having been purchased by Japanese brewing conglomerate Kirin. A dark sour that was aged in the brewery's forest of wooden foeders with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and coconut, Pumpkin Tart is bottle-conditioned and will be available this fall in 750ml bottles.