It’s crisp outside. Pumpkin beers are on some menus. IPAs with high ABVs are on every menu. Drink ’em while you got ’em. Or better yet, drink ‘em if you need to stay warm.
The beginning of fall ushers out the lower-ABV fruity ales and seltzers and embraces heavier, maltier beers for cooler weather. Silver Branch Brewing Company, one of the DMV’s most prolific breweries (just look at their list of beers, it’s massive!), is embracing sweater season, introducing multiple seasonal beers. Just don’t expect any ales inspired by orange gourds.
“Yes, we do have seasonal beers. We don’t do any pumpkin beers,” Silver Branch Head Brewer Chris Broome told us. But it’s not necessarily because he’s opposed to the idea of pumpkin beer.
After Halloween, it seems like the beer-loving public is no longer interested in this seasonal style. “I think there is demand for it,” Broome explains, “But I think that’s one where if you still got any of that left over at the end of October, then you’re kind of stuck holding the bag on it and it just immediately becomes a real hard sell.”
So other than pumpkin, what makes a fall beer a fall beer?
“Going from the summer where everything is like pretty light, pretty toned-down, lower ABV, [we’re] ramping up the ABV a little bit, ramping up the maltiness a little bit,” he explains. Based on the ABV of some of the following beers, that carries over across breweries.
One of their most popular fall beers is something both Silver Branch and beer drinkers appreciate year round. “We just released Cosmic Fall (7.8% ABV), the fall edition of our more West Coast IPA-inspired line of beers,” he says. “This is a rye IPA with comet, chinook and cascade, a traditional West Coast IPA with just just enough rye to give it kind of that spiciness.”
If you’re looking for a lower ABV that fits the season, you may want to stay, metaphorically, on the West Coast. “Lost in the Fog (5.1% ABV) is our California common and not inherently a fall beer per se, but I think it’s one that we hear associated with a fall. It’s got that little bit of a maltier backbone with flavors that are better for the fall.”
For the third autumn option, you’ll really embrace the spooky spirit. “Our Halloween-inspired IPA, Monster City, is a 10.5% Triple IPA. It has a very Halloween-inspired label.”
If you’re not exactly ready to embrace sweaters and beers that will weigh you down like one, consider the upcoming return edition of their Squeegee Master (4.8% ABV) with cranberry and Tahitian lime. According to Broome, it pairs quite nicely with Thanksgiving dinner. “It’s great for the beginning part of a Thanksgiving meal and goes nicely with that slice of pie at the end of the meal.”
If you’re not sold on what Silver Branch is making this season, Broome does have some classic Oktoberfest recommendations from other nearby breweries. “Manor Hill’s Festbier, their Vienna Lager (think Oktoberfest), is great.” Related, Manor Hill is one of the most fall- and family-friendly breweries just outside the city.
Finally, D.C.’s longest-running independent brewery gets the last recommendation. “I really appreciate and like DC Brau’s Oktoberfest,” says Broome.
If you are indeed looking for pumpkin beer, you can find them on most grocery and liquor store shelves (before you go, peruse our ranking of the 21 best). As for the local beers mentioned here, you can find them at their respective breweries and, if you’re already headed to Silver Branch, the extremely close Fenwick Beer & Wine. Of all nearby beer stores, they’re the most likely to carry these six and the 21 ranked pumpkin beers.
This article was featured in the InsideHook DC newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Beltway.