Your guide to fall beers

Your guide to fall beers

As the weather turns cooler, our tastes shift to lagers and ales with a seasonal flair. Here’s what to look for in your local store

Fall’s blustery winds and chilly mornings signal that it’s time to trade your mower for a rake. Oh, and while you’re at it, reach for toastier, roastier ales that pair with harvest dishes to help ease you into autumn.

Toasty Oktoberfest Lager

Let’s raise a glass to Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who invited the citizens of Munich to party after his wedding in October 1810. There’s little doubt that the beer at the centre of the festivities was a Marzen — a toasty lager brewed in March and cooled (or lagered) in caves until the fall, making it super crisp and smooth. Ever since, toasty-but-crisp lagers have been the centrepiece of the annual celebration known globally as Oktoberfest. Look for Vienna, Boston, amber and dark lagers with notes of whole-wheat toast or toffee, and whispers of herbaceous German hops. Pick up some giant pretzels, bratwurst and mustard and have your own Oktoberfest party at home — and don’t forget the giant stein. Prost!

Amber, red & brown ale

The return of fall means it’s time to shift to darker, maltier brews. Brown ales are smooth and slightly sweet with toasted nuttiness, caramel and hints of coffee, while amber and red ales are mellow with notes of toffee and licorice. They all pair well with nutty Goudas and cheddars, or with a ham or roasted veggie sandwich.

Spiced & flavoured ales

Pumpkin spice isn’t just for lattes — brewers love adding a touch of fall flavour to their ales. Look for beers with touches of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, caramel, dark chocolate or pecan, or brews that blend in apple juice for a dose of harvest flavour. These ales were designed to go with classic fall fare, whether that’s turkey with all the fixings or curried butternut squash soup.


The best stouts drink like cold-brew coffee: they’re velvety and smooth with just the right amount of roasty notes. Now all you have to do is pour it into a snifter, put on your furry slippers, break out a bowl of salted cashews and flip on the fireplace channel.


India pale ale is a beer for all seasons. The bold pine, cedar and citrus hop aromas from fresh hops take centre stage and are the perfect accent to fall’s changing colours and chillier temperatures. Crack a can and you’ll find raking the leaves or cleaning out the garage before winter just a little more pleasant.

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