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Your Guide to the Season's Best Beers

By Mathew Katz | October 15, 2013 7:00am
  As temperatures drop and the leaves change, try a sampling from this list of fall beers.
Fall Beer Guide 2013
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NEW YORK CITY — Cold weather and the end of summer may mean the end of beach trips and outdoor concerts, but it also means you get to indulge in some of the most flavorful beers of the year.

Fall is typically the time when brewers begin to release their darker, heartier and more filling craft beer options — not to mention a legion of pumpkin brews — to help warm you up as the mercury drops.

DNAinfo New York consulted local beer experts to find the best brews this fall.

Greenport Harbor Leaf Pile  — Ale, 5.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), from Long Island, N.Y.

Described by its brewers as "a slice of pumpkin pie in a glass," this beer incorporates ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg for a pleasant fall flavor.

Sarah Annese, editor for BeerUnion.com and co-author of the upcoming book "Beer Lover's New York," said this ale was a refreshing break from some of the more overpowering pumpkin brews of the season.

"It's pumpkiny, but not too pumpkiny and not too sweet," she said.

Southern Tier Pumking — Ale, 8.6 percent ABV, from Lakewood, N.Y.

This is the king of all pumpkin beers — and for good reason. At 8.6 percent alcohol by volume, it's among the strongest of the fall's pumpkin beers, with an intense, stout-like sweet flavor and fall spices.

Be careful though — this brew doesn't taste as strong as it is. A few glasses may take its toll on you, although that hangover might be worth it to experience this all-star beer.

Cricket Hill Fall Festivus — Ale, 4.8 percent ABV, from Fairfield, N.J.

This harvest ale is recommended by the gurus at Park Slope's Bierkraft as a great match for a heavy meal — like a Thanksgiving turkey or fall stew — because of its lighter flavor and caramel sweetness. It's not too hoppy, so it won't interfere with strong fall food flavors and it won't fill you up before your big meal, but has a great taste if you're drinking it on its own.

For a heavier, warmer option, try Cricket Hill's Smoked Rye, a small-batch beer with bold flavor.

Bronx Rye Pale Ale — Ale, 6.3 percent ABV, from The Bronx

Over the past few years, fall beers have been overwhelmed by the pumpkin craze, with nearly every brewery coming out with a brew made using the ubiquitous gourd. That's why BeerUnion's Annese finds the Bronx Rye Pale Ale so refreshing.

"It's a seasonal that's not about pumpkin at all, at a time when there are so many pumpkin seasonals," she said.

Based on their flagship pale ale, this beer is a bit stronger and hoppier — helping it warm you up on cold fall nights.

Founders Breakfast Stout — Stout, 8.3 percent, from Grand Rapids, Mi.

It may not be winter yet, but sometimes on a chilly fall evening, all you need is a strong, dark stout to cuddle up with.

This easy-drinking, chocolatey dark beer is made with coffee, but is not as harsh as some of the stouts you'll find in the dark of winter. It still has enough of a kick to it that it will surely satisfy.

White Birch Nyx — Ale, 7 percent ABV, from Hooksett, N.H.

Named after the Greek goddess of night for its dark coloring, this chocolatey black ale is a great preview of some of the darker brews of the winter, while still having a smooth, medium-bodied finish.

A bitter hoppiness rounds out the beer, but nothing so overwhelming — so it's a great companion for fall roasts.