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The Best Fall Beers Of 2021

Fall arrives at different times. Our brewery team in Mills River, NC is throwing on flannel while we’re still blasting the A/C in Chico, CA. Eventually we all find ourselves noting the crisp breeze, changing leaves, and cravings for food and drink that anchor us against the elements. Summer salads turn to hearty soups, and your go-to beers might make a shift.

But while some say autumn is all about dark, malty ales—which we love; our very first beer was Stout—there are other styles and flavors that fit nicely with the season. Maybe the piney aroma of Pale Ale transports you to a cozy campground. Or does lederhosen (and a stein of lager) make it official for you? And if it’s just about some extra oomph, an Imperial IPA could be the hoppy ticket.

There’s always a lot to choose from, so we’ve rounded up our best fall beers to help you narrow it down. Cheers! Or better yet, Prost, given the first one on the list.

Oktoberfest Amber Märzen

Raise a stein of this fall favorite.

Available August–October

Two clinking steins of beer above a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

Beer’s biggest party lands every fall: huge tents, cheerful polka, rowdy singalongs. Each year we brew an Oktoberfest lager that channels those festive feelings; the recipe always changes so each release is unique.

You’ll usually see Oktoberfest beers that are either Märzens or Festbiers. Very simply, a Märzen tends to feature a malty richness alongside a dry finish that draws you back. Festbier tones down the malt dominance, leaves room for some hop expression, and drinks “lighter” all around. (Märzen was the longtime staple of the Munich festival until Festbier started filling steins in the ’90s.)

Our 2021 Oktoberfest harks back to the original style. It’s a darker, malt-forward Amber Märzen at 5.5% ABV with inviting flavors and aromas of honey, biscuit and caramel, while a kiss of hops balances the malt character for supreme drinkability.

And if you’re hungry, pour a half cup of Oktoberfest toward our Pretzel Skillet with Beer Cheese.

Find Oktoberfest

 

Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA

Hops from field to kettle within 24 hours.

Available late September, while supplies last—very limited distribution!

Six-pack of Northern Hemisphere Harvest IPA in front of a hop field

Fall is extra special to craft brewers for one delicious reason: the annual hop harvest. That’s when we travel to the Pacific Northwest for “hop selection,” which includes rubbing hops—literally smashing the cones in our palms to tease out the aromatic properties.

And some hops are so magical, we just can’t wait; we skip the drying and packaging steps entirely.

Northern Hemisphere IPA, at 6.7% ABV, exclusively features Centennial hops that we pick and rush to our brew kettles the very same day. This earns it the “wet hop IPA” designation, and its vibrant notes of citrus blossom, rose, and pine are like your personal stroll through a hop field.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout

From the depths, our autumn imperial stout.

Available September–December

A bottle and full glass of Narwhal Imperial Stout

At 10.2% ABV and dark like the Arctic floor, Narwhal Imperial Stout doubles as a comfy sweater—almost. It brims with all the warming malt character for a cold night, including notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke. Narwhal manages to be aggressive yet refined, smooth with its velvety body and decadent finish. Pour it into a snifter glass and settle in for a slow-sipping delight.

And when it came to expanding our barrel-aging program, Narwhal was the perfect beer for our first-ever nationwide release. Barrel-Aged Narwhal spends nearly a year in bourbon barrels, emerging with rich notes of oak, vanilla, and coconut layered onto the Stout’s malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso.

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Dankful Generously Hoppy IPA

Your fall IPA, or anytime IPA.

Available year-round

A hand holding a can of Dankful IPA amidst fall foliage

Gratitude is at the heart of holidays during fall, and while you can say thank you with greeting cards or baked goods, we chose beer. Dankful is a West Coast-style IPA packed with seven different hop varieties for flavor that’s resinous, a bit tropical, and solid at 7.4% ABV. It’s no doubt “Generously Hoppy” like the can says, but that name means more.

Through Dankful, we’ve committed at least $1 million in donations through 2021 to nonprofits improving their communities—to say thank you. Our latest partners fight food insecurity using sustainable methods, including community gardens and commercial urban farms.

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Big Little Thing Imperial IPA

Dialed up to 9%, yet drinks like a dream.

Available year-round

A can and full pint glass of Big Little Thing Imperial IPA

When the wind reaches your bones, sometimes it’s as simple as, “Give me anything big.” But make it count: Big Little Thing Imperial IPA defies brewing logic with its monster 9% ABV and booming hop character, yet the sweetness is tame and the finish is clean.

We dry-hop Big Little Thing during active fermentation to spark biotransformation—yeast cells alter the chemical compounds in hops to unlock entirely new aromas, like Big’s wave of mango, grapefruit and tangerine. After all, a little taste of tropical paradise could be the warmth you need this fall.

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