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Beer Town: Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers say fall

Sept. 23 may be the first day of autumn, but craft breweries have been shipping Oktoberfest lagers, pumpkin ales, and other popular beers of the season for more than a month. As usual, the demand for these malty and spicy beers is high.


Several Atlanta brewpubs, including Five Seasons, Max Lager’s, and Gordon Biersch, make very good draft versions of the German Oktoberfest style. Since the demise of Dogwood Brewing Co., though, no local brewery has bottled an Oktoberfest beer.

Red Brick Brewing Co. changed that with the recent introduction of Red Brick Oktoberfest, available in limited edition seasonal six-packs. The copper-colored lager, made with German bock yeast and Vienna malt, exhibits a sweet aroma and a clean, rich flavor, with a moderately dry finish.

Other perennial Oktoberfest favorites to look for in bottles and on draft include offerings from Ayinger, Bell’s, Brooklyn, Harpoon, Samuel Adams, Victory and Weyerbacher.

New to the U.S. this year, Paulaner’s Wiesn-bier, packaged in1-liter cans, is the same beer served on draft in the official Paulaner tent during Oktoberfest.

Of course, nowadays, American craft breweries are pumping up the malt and hops to create bigger, more extreme Oktoberfest-style beers. Avery the Kaiser and Heavy Seas Prosit! are good examples, while the blood-red Hebrew Freaktoberfest may be more suitable for Halloween.

Pumpkin beers have come a long way from simple spiced ales, grabbing the attention of beer geeks as craft brewers experiment with a variety of takes on the style.

Terrapin’s new hybrid seasonal, Pumpkinfest, is described as having “all of the malt of a German fest beer and all of the spice of Grandma’s pumpkin pie.” It’s brewed with German malts, Vanguard and Hallertau hops, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves.

Hoppin’ Frog Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin, Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela No. 1 Pumpkin, Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin ales are going to be harder to find, but worth seeking out for a taste of some strong spiced beers.

At Five Seasons Prado, brewer Kevin McNerney will tap his 2010 Fest Bier on Sept. 25 at the brewpub’s annual Oktoberfest celebration. But for a different kind of autumn kick, try McNerney’s 6.5 percent alcohol by volume hard cider, made with fresh North Georgia apples. It should be available in late October.

4 comments Add your comment


September 15th, 2010
12:33 am

I new type of seasonal (Fall) beer that I am currently enjoying is the Hoptober Golden Ale that just came out from New Belgium beer company out of Colorado. It is very good. Just the right spices with a hoppie feel.

smart dawg

September 15th, 2010
8:39 am

Hoptober by the New Belgium brewery is tasty too.

Crawford Moran

September 17th, 2010
12:36 pm

Bob, you love the phrase “the demise of Dogwood”! I’ll have that beer out though for our Oktoberfest celebration at 5 Seasons Westside on Saturday, Sept 25th and at 5 Seasons North on Saturday, October 2nd. We have Chef Dave’s killer German spread and a German brass band playing the hits!


September 17th, 2010
1:13 pm

Crawford: I write “demise of Dogwood” with a tear in my eye. I thought it was “defunct” you really hated.

Had a just-tapped Ayinger Oktoberfest on draft on Wednesday night at Young Augustine’s. Sublime!