Leave the heat off for another few weeks, pull on a sweater, and let one of these brews keep you warm this fall.
Among the many great things about craft beer is the way its styles change with the seasons. After the light and refreshing lagers, radlers, and session IPAs of summer—the kind of beers you can slurp with abandon at outdoor barbecues—autumn brings with it some beefier brews. And we’re not just talking body. When the skies turn cloudy and the mercury drops, you want a beer with enough alcohol to warm your belly and bones, and your favorite craft breweries are happy to oblige.
The definition of a “high-alcohol” beer is a bit subjective; if you tend to drink a lot of barley wine and Belgian quads, you probably scoff at anything below 10 percent ABV. On the other hand, a pint of 7 percent ABV beer contains about as much alcohol as a double bourbon. All the beers on this list approach (or far exceed) that 7 percent ABV threshold. Whatever your tolerance or intended level of inebriation, there’s a new craft beer on this list for you. So leave the heat off for another few weeks, pull on a sweater, and let one of these brews keep you warm this fall.
Consider Yourself Hugged by Prairie Artisan Ales
Only a stout could properly kick off this kind of list, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than Consider Yourself Hugged. An imperial brewed with “peanut butter roasted coffee,” this 11.9 percent ABV beer is as delicious as it sounds. Coffee, peanuts, chocolate, and a hint of salt come together with wizened fruit to form a layered, umami-rich brew. If you haven’t discovered Oklahoma’s Prairie Artisan Ales, this is a great introduction.
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster by Short’s Brewing
This 10.9 percent ABV double IPA from Michigan’s Short’s is a mouthful, in more ways than one. There’s its name—a reference to its inclusion of Australian galaxy hops. And then there’s its impressively crisp and dank burst of citrus fruits. There’s enough heat here to make you aware its alcohol, but Gargle Blaster is perilously drinkable.
River Ridge Black by Creature Comforts Brewing
One of the latest wood-cellar releases from Georgia-based Creature Comforts, River Ridge Black is a “fruited dark ale” that spent more than a year in French oak, followed by conditioning with black raspberries and currants both sourced from nearby River Ridge Organics. At 8 percent ABV, it’s nothing overpowering in the alcohol department. But it’s plenty potent in other ways. You’ll be wowed.
Dank IPA by pFriem Family Brewers
Oregon-based pFriem first released their Dank IPA in the fall of 2015, and it was an instant hit. This autumn’s 7.8 percent ABV edition is a copper-colored cocktail of hops and citrus fruits. It’s medium bodied and smooth with a nice amount of carbonation, and it’s an able dance partner with fatty stews and meats.
Cardigans of the Galaxy by Monday Night Brewing
Combining nine different types of hops, this 9.5 percent ABV “double IPA” from Atlanta’s Monday Night is all melon and citrus on the nose. But take a sip, and Cardigans of the Galaxy’s bready malts and mellow sweetness mingle with its fruity and bitter elements for a delectably well-rounder beer.
Hype Whale Reserve by Atlanta Brewing
Atlanta Brewing took one of their best-loved beers—Hype Whale imperial stout—and let it mellow for almost a year in old Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. At 10.8 percent ABV, Hype Whale Reserve is a viscous, chewy brew that marries the sweet vanilla notes of bourbon with the chocolatey roast of an imperial stout.
Märzen by Spoetzl Brewery
Texas-based Spoetzl Brewery is best known for making the state’s iconic Shiner beers. The brewery’s latest offering is a Bavarian märzen-style beer brewed in collaboration with the Lone Star state’s Balcones Distilling. Made with two varieties of traditional German hops (Hallertau and Hersbrucker) and aged in old single-malt barrels, Märzen is an oaky, caramel-and-vanilla laced beauty. At 11 percent ABV, it’s also dangerously drinkable.
Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale by New Belgium Brewing
Colorado-based New Belgium teamed up with Kentucky’s Knob Creek to craft this “bourbon-inspired” 9 percent ABV brew. The brewers at New Belgium let their rye ale marinade with bourbon soaked oak spirals and “barrel char” (the caramelized wood sugars left behind in used Knob Creek barrels). Oakspire is a mildly sweet, roasty, vanilla-tinged brew that deserves to be sipped slowly and pondered.
Fog Breaker IPA by Anchor Brewing
San Francisco’s fog is so familiar to residents that they’ve named it “Karl.” In a tongue-in-cheek homage to Karl, Anchor Steam created this sunny, bright, fruit-and-hops packed pale ale. At 6.8 percent ABV, Fog Breaker is on the lighter side for beers on this list. But if one pint of it clears away the fog, a second may bring on a new kind of haze.
Pennsylvania Tuxedo by Dogfish Head
Since 2014, Delaware’s Dogfish Head has been making this beer in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based Woolrich, the outdoor clothing company. Made with Pennsylvania-sourced spruce tips, this year’s 8.5 percent ABV version is packed with piney resin notes, and features a nice balance of citrus and malts.
Born Yesterday by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
If fresh (and we mean fresh) hops are your jam, this is your beer. The master brewers at California-based Lagunitas rush fresh-picked “wet” Yakima hops into this unfiltered 7.2 percent ABV beer. If the 2016 and 2017 versions of Born Yesterday are any indication, the results will be stunning. But you need to buy (and drink) this beer ASAP.
Black Tuesday by The Bruery
This barrel-aged imperial stout debuted back in 2009—long before wood aging was the hottest trend in brewing—and was an immediate winner for California’s The Bruery. The 10th iteration of Black Tuesday is an astoundingly rich, complex and harmonious beer. It’s oaky and hot, and practically lethal at nearly 20 percent ABV. Don’t miss it.
Barrel-Aged CBS by Founders Brewing Co.
Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) is the last release in Founders’ 2018 barrel-aged series, and it was certainly worth the wait. CBS is one of this award-winning Michigan brewery’s most popular beers, and for this 11.6 percent ABV iteration, the folks at Founders aged the brew in barrels that use to be home to maple syrup. Available for a short time this November, it’s a knockout.
Peanut Butter PM Dawn by Trillium Brewing Co.
Massachusetts-based Trillium first made this cold-brew coffee beer to celebrate its fifth anniversary. Everyone liked it so much they’ve decided to brew a second batch—only this time they added some peanut butter to the brewing process. The 10.1 percent ABV result is overflowing with aromas of peanuts and black coffee, and tastes like the best chocolate-PB-coffee milkshake (with alcohol!) you’ve ever had.
Winter Storm Imperial ESB by Heavy Seas Beer
Winter Storm Imperial ESB is a fall favorite among locals, and this year’s edition from Baltimore-based Heavy Seas is sure to attract even more fans. Brewed with a mix of West Coast and UK hops, Winter Storm combines caramel and spice notes with just the right amount of bitterness and boozy warmth. At 7.5 percent ABV, it’s a smooth, easy drinking and medium-bodied beer.
Nolan the Wanderer 003 Brut IPA by Reformation Brewery
The third release in Georgia-based Reformation’s “Nolan the Wanderer” 2018 IPA series, Brut IPA is a highly carbonated pale ale styled after brut (dry) Champagne. If you’re expecting the bitter bite of most pale ales, you’re going to be surprised. This 7.2 percent ABV brew is crisp and fresh, with lots of light-fleshed fruit and a mouth-drying finish.
Raspberry Wheat Wine by Hi-Wire Brewing
Don’t let the name fool you: “wheat wine” is a style of strong, fruity ale made with heavy amounts of wheat malt, and it’s growing increasingly popular among American brewers. This offering from Asheville, North Carolina’s Hi-Wire features plenty of fresh red raspberries as well as bready malts. At 9 percent ABV, it’s smoother and lighter-bodied than you’d expect.
Jonesing for Java Imperial Porter by Mad Anthony Brewing
If you’re in and around Indiana this fall, this imperial porter from Mad Anthony is a mouth-coating mélange of chocolate, dark coffee, and black earth. At 8 percent ABV, it’s potent but not overpowering. It also features a finishing spritz of palate-cleansing bitterness.
Spruce Tip Sculpin by Ballast Point Brewing
San Diego-based Ballast Point is known for its Sculpin IPA, which tops many beer-drinkers’ lists of best India pale ales. For a limited time this fall, the brewery is releasing a version made with Oregon-sourced spruce tips. It features aromas and flavors of pine and citrus, as well as some subtle wood notes. If you love Sculpin, you won’t want to miss this delicious take on that iconic beer.
Jubelale by Deschutes Brewing
This is the 31st bottling (!) of the seasonal favorite from Oregon’s Deschutes. True to form, this year’s Jubelale is a mellow, nuanced blend of chocolate, dried fruit and spice. At 6.7 percent ABV, it’s a late-fall beer you can enjoy liberally, but with all the warming characteristics you want when the weather turns cold.