Fall in Michigan means crisp mornings, spiced cider, warm donuts, and of course — fall-inspired Michigan beer.
Michigan brewers are known around the country for crafting delicious and complex beer for every season, but this year’s pick of Michigan fall beers are especially spectacular. From Pumpkin Spice Latte to Oktoberfest and S’mores flavored concoctions, read through our favorite Michigan fall beers and sample them under the leaves stop falling!
It happens every year around this time: the days get shorter, leaves begin to change color, and breweries start putting pumpkin in all their beers.
For some, this is a somber reminder that a Michigan winter isn’t too far away, but, for others, the thought of cardigans, corn mazes, and pumpkin spice lattes has been in the back of their minds since the first 90-degree day.
No matter which camp you find yourself in, fall beers are a welcome reprieve from the citrus-heavy offerings of summer.
Whether you like a brew reminiscent of biting into a pumpkin pie or you prefer a harvest ale brewed with freshly picked Michigan hops, the thriving Michigan beer scene has something for everyone this season.
Best Michigan Fall Beers
The most popular fall beers these days seem to be the ones that are infused with fall flavors such as pumpkin, cinnamon, and/or nutmeg. While these are certainly not the only options for your autumn drinking pleasure, I would be remiss if I didn’t start our discussion there.
Ichabod | New Holland Brewing Co.
For many, this is the quintessential fall beer. Brewed with malted barley, real pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, Ichabod takes a straightforward ale and infuses it with some of the best flavors of the season.
Screamin’ Pumpkin | Griffin Claw Brewing Co.
The addition of a little molasses to go along with the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves adds a nice touch of sweetness to the Screamin’ Pumpkin.
A light, crisp, and drinkable ale that gets more fragrant as it warms, this pairs well with a meal or is perfect for tailgating (it even comes in a can!)
Jaw-Jacker | Shorts Brewing Co.
This seasonal amber ale from Shorts Brewing Co. is a celebration of all the flavors of autumn. This brew includes cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg and adds caramel malt. Added all together, it creates a beer that’s full of flavor and highly drinkable despite having no pumpkin flavor.
Deer Camp | Upper Hand Brewery
One of the best things about fall in Michigan is the arrival of deer season. This beer packs all the warm feelings of opening day into a can and it’s great to sip by the warmth of a fire. It’s available from September to December, so make sure to pick some up on your out to camp.
Milk Route Stout | Austin Brothers Beer Co.
Fans of milk stout beers will love this beer, which is availble from October to March. This brew tastes like roasted coffee, caramel, and chocolate and is combined with milk sugar, which provides plenty of sweetness and full-bodied flavor.
It all balances perfectly into this stout you’ll love once fall arrives.
Pumpkin Chai | Saugatuck Brewing Co.
Instead of adding the usual suspects (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) to add spiciness to their pumpkin ale, Saugatuck decided to add herbal chai tea to impart those aromatic flavors. The result is a slightly drier and spicier take on a pumpkin beer.
Though certainly not a dark beer, it does feel a little heavier than some of the other pumpkin ales.
Pumpkin Spice Latte | Atwater Brewing Co.
With custom-designed and locally sourced pumpkin spice and coffee extracts, Atwater’s PSL is the perfect beer equivalent of this coffee-shop hit. This is a Munich Dark malt, which brings a walnut flavor that pairs with the Honey malt and Melanoidin malt, combining honey and bright sweetness. All that is to say — it’s a pumpkin spice latte, but in beer form!
Oktoberfest in Michigan
Way back in the 1500s, Bavarian lawmakers forbid the brewing of beer from April through September to ensure quality and consistency, since warm weather wreaked havoc on the beer.
So, of course, when October rolled around, they kicked it into gear and celebrated their ability to brew again! While we don’t have to worry about the warm weather with modern technology, we certainly don’t turn down a reason to celebrate beer.
Keeping with tradition, these German-style lagers are malt-forward in taste and amber in color, due to the German malt (Munich or Vienna) used. There is not an overwhelming hop presence in this style, as the malt is allowed to speak for itself.
Noble Chaos | Short’s Brewing Co.
In typical Short’s fashion, this is a unique take on a classic. With toasted caramel malt flavors and a slight spiciness imparted by the Noble hops, this is a complex and tasty version of the Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest | Arbor Brewing Company
This festive brew is offered from mid-August through October. This amber lager is brewed with Munich and Pilsner malts, which creates a rich, hearty beer with a dry, crisp finish that’s perfect to enjoy on a fall day.
PumpkinCrusha | Short’s Brewing Co.
PumpkinCrusha has been a Short’s favorite since 2004, but it’s never been offered in-store before now. This delectable beer is brewed with real pumpkin and classic fall spices. You’ll feel like you got a piece of pumpkin pie right in your glass. If you’re feeling daring, put some whipped cream on top. This is the perfect beer to get you in the fall spirit!
Kolsch | Drafting Table Brewing Co.
Fall is the perfect time of year for a German beer and you can find it at this Wixom establishment. If you’re looking for a lighter, calorie-conscious beer, this is a great choice because it’s still refreshing and drinks very much like a lager. This brighly-color, smooth, crisp brew is perfect when fall arrives.
Dauntless | North Peak Brewing Co.
Brewed with a traditional Munich lager yeast, Dauntless is very malt-forward, which is befitting of the style. There are just enough hops to balance out the sweetness of the malt, making it very drinkable.
Octoberfest Beer | Bell’s Brewing Co.
Bell’s has been a pioneer in the beer scene with genre-defining beers such as Two Hearted and Oberon. With Octoberfest, however, Bell’s shows that they can also pay homage to a traditional style and do it justice. Octoberfest is lightly hopped and, like most beers in the category, exceedingly drinkable.
Austoberfest | Austin Brothers Beer Co.
On Michigan’s Sunrise Side, Alpena-based Austin Brothers Beer Co. serves up this traditional marzen that’s packed with caramel flavor. Beer enthusiasts will love this smooth finishing beer that’s perfectly balanced and best enjoyed on a fall day. Austoberfest is available from August through October.
Violin Monster | Arbor Brewing Co.
Ready for Halloween monsters? Arbor Brewing is taking on the legend of the werewolf with a strong, dark, spiced beer using ingredients from Germany and the Netherlands. Brewed with warming spices and a hint of brown sugar, the Violin Monster is as black as the night that conceals the monsters. This brew changes every year so make sure to try it again. It’s a little less spicy than years prior.
Oktoberfest | Lansing Brewing Co.
We could have picked dozens of this fall classic for our list, but we went with Lansing Brewing Co’s popular rendition. LBC used three different Germany style malts; Pilsen, Vienna, and Munich, giving the beer a bread-like malt flavor and easy drinkability. This version of Oktoberfest keeps to the original, except for its use of hops for the Washington state region (instead of Germany!).
Michigan Harvest Ales
More a celebration of a successful harvest than a specific style, Harvest Ales feature freshly picked hops to give their beers a delightful and fresh flavor and aroma. Harvest Ales tend to be wet-hopped, which just means that the brewers throw fresh hops in the fermenter to add flavor and aroma to a finished beer.
Harvest Ale | Founders Brewing Co.
You can’t talk Michigan breweries without first bringing up Founders, and you can’t talk fall beer without mentioning their Harvest Ale. This beer has an ultra juicy hop presence, exploding with fresh pine, melon, and citrus notes. Finish it with a toasted malt undertone and you’ve got this season’s harvest in a glass. This wet-hopped Harvest Ale clocks it at 70 IBUs and has a very juicy and citrus-forward hop profile. This is the perfect fall beer if you are still craving an IPA.
Kind Ale | Short’s Brewing Co.
Hops from Leelanau Peninsula are the star in this hoppy Harvest Ale. The hops add a hint of earthiness, and a little sweetness from the malt shines through. Short’s has been brewing this beer every fall since 2009 when it was brewed as a single batch.
Autumn Ale | Short’s Brewing Co.
We had to add this one to the list — autumn is in the name! A London style Extra Special Bitter (ESB), Short’s Autumn Ale bursts with flavors including malty sweetness and earthy, herbal hop bitterness. Winner of a silver medal at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival, Autumn Ale is a crisp refresher for the end of a day filled with pumpkin picking and corn mazes.
Michigan Hard Ciders
I know, I promised a list of beers and now I’ve resorted to listing Michigan hard ciders; however, Michigan autumns and apples go together like Michael Phelps and gold medals. Here are a few of my favorites.
Totally Roasted | Vander Mill
Adding pecans, cinnamon, and vanilla to a lightly-sweetened cider really pulls out the roasted qualities of the pecans and accentuates the cinnamon which screams “fall” to me.
Octorock | Starcut Ciders
Made with Michigan apples, this is the perfect drink to pair with a crisp fall day. The flavor is just the right mix of sweet and bright apple flavors and when you take a sip, it’ll be as though you’ve taken a bite out of a fresh apple from an orchard. This cider is available year-round, so you can enjoy the taste any time you want.
Apple Lantern | Blake’s Hard Cider
This is one of Blake’s Limited Series ciders, and is perfect for fall. Imagine the crisp flavor of apples paired with the rich taste of pumpkin. This cider pairs them together for the perfect blend, that’s refreshing and delicious. It’s 6.5% ABV and is available on tap, as a six-pack or as a bushel 12-pack.
Flannel Mouth | Blake’s Hard Cider
This is one of Blake’s core flavors, so you can find it all year-round. If you love apples, you’re in luck because this cider is packed with them. It’s the perfect blend of late season tart and sweet Michigan apples that blends together for a smooth finish and a sweet flavor.
With great craft breweries opening constantly throughout Michigan, there are likely hundreds of worthy Michigan beers perfect for the fall season, and we know we missed some. What are your favorites that we must try before Christmas music hits the radio and the Lions have been eliminated from playoff contention?