No one understands fall drinking better than the Germans, hosts of the famous Oktoberfest festival and consumers of massive amounts of gimmick-free lager. Their beers are the right strength for the seasonal chill: Though they don't generally subscribe to the concept of seasonal beers, Germans spend the whole year drinking perfect-for-fall pilsners with 2% more alcohol and a lot more kick.
You don't have to go to Germany to get a great fall brew, however. Many American craft breweries once rang in the colder weather with heavily spiced pumpkin beers, but now there's a growing trend toward make simple, hearty German styles stateside. To help us find the best German and German-style beers in America, we turned to Rob and Kurt Widmer, founders of Widmer Brothers Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. After living in Germany for two years and learning to appreciate the country's strict traditions, Kurt returned home and started brewing. "We've always felt that seasonal beers are charming," Rob Widmer says. "But I want a beer I can count on."
Here's are the brews he's talking about.
It doesn't get more traditional than this. The Weihenstephaner Brewery was founded in 725 in a monastery in Bavaria, making it one of the oldest breweries in the world. Who else would you trust to make a classic unfiltered wheat beer? While many American Hefeweizens are known for their light, refreshing qualities, German versions like the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier stand out for its complexities. The honey-hued beer smells like bananas and clove, and delivers those flavors with a smooth creaminess that ends with a spice spike. This is the kind of supremely balanced beer that pairs well with barbecues, mixing gracefully with flavorful foods or holding its own against a veggie burger.