Sure, porters and stouts have their place as the season turns. But Chris Manca and Taylor Cathala — our beer experts in New York City and San Francisco — think there are more exciting things brewing. Ahead, they spill on what they're sipping right now. (Remember: While a few craft brews are available everywhere, many are meant to be enjoyed locally. If you don't find the exact beer we've mentioned below in your store, ask a team member to suggest something similar from your area.)
1. Fruity IPA's
Fruity brews may seem summery, but don't count them out. A vibrant, wet hop beer has a juiciness to it that mimics flavors of apricots, peaches, and other fruits depending on the hops used, which pair well with hearty foods like chili and stew.
Taylor says: "IPA's continue to be incredibly popular, and all of the new fruit variations make beer drinkers with adventurous palates excited to try all of the new options."
Try: Ninkasi Hop Cooler IPA, available in 13 states.
2. Cider with a twist
No longer just a fallback for those who don’t like beer, cider has a growing fan base, and with that, options are abundant and growing in complexity.
Taylor says: "Cider has become widely acceptable as a legitimate offering to any dinner party, and to be honest, I think brings some of the most flexible and interesting pairings for cheese and charcuterie. Cider lovers really do care where the apples/pears/pineapples etc. are grown and relate to the concept of farm to bottle."
Chris says: "To keep things interesting, we’re noticing a lot of brands starting to take some different approaches to the norm. Barrel aging is a hot trend with ciders, as are tropical fruit infusions. An interesting twist that we’re seeing more of is heavily hopped ciders, almost to the point of tasting like beer."
Try: Golden State Cider (available only in California). Bad Seed, a cidery in the New York area, has gone so far as to call on of their ciders an IPC (India Pale Cider), a play on the popular IPA style of beer.
3. Crisp Oktoberfests
With the huge influx of flavored beers that come out during harvest, it is nice to have something clean and light to manage your palate, which is why Pilsners and lagers are trending.
Taylor says: "Right the heels of Oktoberfest, I think customers still desire a mild and tasty lager all the way through the end of the year."
Try: Founders PC Pils, available in most areas.
4. Aged in oak
Aging in oak lends deep, sweet, earthy, notes to beer that work perfectly for fall flavors.
Chris says: "Traditional fall styles, like Oktoberfests, porters and stouts pick up an additional level of flavor and texture after even just a few months in a barrel."
Try: Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest. They took their traditional marzenbier and let it age in oak for a few months, to add a new level of complexity to one of fall’s favorite styles.
5. More pumpkin
We’ve already seen brands like Uinta come out with higher alcohol by volume (ABV), oak-aged version of pumpkin beers, and this year looks like pumpkin beers might be trending even more in that direction.
Chris says: "Industry insiders feel like last year was the year that people finally started to get bored by traditional pumpkin beers. In response to that, many breweries are going back to the drawing board and working on unique twists on the style."
Try: The variants coming out of the ever popular Southern Tier Pumking. They already do a rum barrel aged version, and this year we hear they are doing a variant that is blended with cold brew coffee, which sounds pretty delicious. Available widely on the East Coast.
Editor's note: We are prohibited by law from selling alcohol in some of our stores. Not all products are available in all stores.
Want more tips for tasting? You'll find even more advice and favorite picks from our beer experts on our Beer Department page.