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Sean LeRoux | The Crow’s Nest Although many assume October to be a month overcome by everything pumpkin, Oktoberfests, winter beers and other spiced seasonal variants are quite popular as well.
Sean LeRoux | The Crow’s Nest
Although many assume October to be a month overcome by everything pumpkin, Oktoberfests, winter beers and other spiced seasonal variants are quite popular as well.

Five of fall’s best brews.

The month of October –arguably the best time of year for seasonal beer enthusiasts – is finally upon us.

As Halloween decorations re-emerge and all that is pumpkin spice takes over our lives, breweries across the country are shipping out their newest seasonal brews by the truckload.

Although Christmas-themed beers haven’t quite hit shelves yet, there is still a solid selection of pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests to choose from. This week’s lineup consists of two Oktoberfests, two pumpkin ales and a sweet potato casserole strong ale.

First up is Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling’s Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale.

Far less heavy than the brewery’s other bourbon-barreled offerings, this pumpkin ale is surprisingly light and easy to drink for a beer that boasts an ABV, the alcohol by volume, of 10 percent.

Pumpkin flavor is certainly present, but it doesn’t slap you in the face like some other seasonal ales – we’re looking at you, Pumking.

The balance of spices and bourbon is a nice touch that adds an impressive complexity to the beer.

Next is Abita Brewing’s Octoberfest, a surprisingly decent beer that is hoppier than most other Marzens, which is a name used interchangeably with Oktoberfest. Other than that, there’s not much to say about this one. It’s certainly drinkable, weighing in at just over 5 percent ABV, and the unexpected hoppiness provides an interesting twist that allows the beer to stand out from other Oktoberfests.

Third in the lineup is Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale. The beer is smooth, with hints of spices, brown sugar and pumpkin. An ABV of 7 percent makes the beer bold, yet light enough to enjoy in higher quantities. That being said, the beer would also be fantastic as an imperial, or a maltier beer with a higher ABV. Overall, it’s one of the better pumpkin beers available.

Next comes Left Hand Brewing’s Oktoberfest, weighing in at 6.6 percent ABV. Although neither the scent nor the appearance are anything to write home about, the taste makes up for it.

Left Hand stuck to the standard Oktoberfest template – malty, spiced and golden-orange in color. The brewery’s signature smooth, creamy texture still allows the beer to stand out. This Oktoberfest is certainly more preferable than Abita’s variant and is absolutely worthy of a follow-up purchase.

Rounding up the five beer free-for-all is Funky Buddha Brewing’s Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale. By far the best beer of the five, this ale is sweet, bold and goes down easy.

Although consuming more than a few is probably a task best saved for more seasoned beer drinkers, anyone could enjoy this brew. Hints of spices, sweet potato and marshmallow make this beer a delicious alternative to the standard pumpkin ale. At 9.5 percent ABV, it’s best to fight off the urge to drink more than one or two and save the rest for another day.

This fall, don’t condemn yourself to a grueling three months of bland, mass-produced beers. Give these crafty seasonals a shot and see how much more exciting your beer drinking experience can be.

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