Back before we had refrigeration to help in the brewing and storing process of beer, there weren’t many summer ales being brewed. Most brewers ended their runs with the onset of spring, and began again in the fall. Most of those being brewed in March, which is where the term Marzen comes from. Marzen/Oktoberfest beer is rich, full-bodied and usually dark copper in color with a mid-high ABV%. The Munich Oktoberfest beer that most of us know and is served at the Munich Oktoberfest is typically 5.0-6.0% ABV with a mild hop profile.
When it comes to Pumpkin Ales, there is quite a bit of variety form recipe to recipe. Brewers can add hand-cut pumpkins into the mash, or use puree or even pumpkin flavoring. Most brewers add pumpkin pie spices to their Pumpkin Ale recipes like; nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves. Your average Pumpkin Ale has about 4.0-7.0% ABV with a slightly thick consistency that adds to the mouthfeel.
Harvest ale is a bit of a catch-all term for fall beer recipes that coincide with hop harvest, grain harvest and Oktoberfest. J.W. Lees Harvest Ale was the first popular beer to use the term harvest ale back in 1986. It was brewed to celebrate both the hops and barley harvest. Most harvest ales nowadays are known for their strong hop flavors with great citrus flavoring due to wet hopping. Wet hopping is when wet, undried, hops go straight from the fields into the kettle within 24hours. Using wet hops preserves all of the precious oils and resins for a unique drinking experience full of herbal green flavors, citrus and strong floral aromas.
English Pale Ales derive their name from, you guessed it! England. The English Pale Ale can be traced all the way back to the city of Burton along Trent River just east of Staffordshire. Using the abundance of hard water from Trent River gives English Pale Ales their clarity and enhances the hoppy bitterness. Usually these ales are golden to reddish amber in color, with a mix of fruity, hoppy, earthy and malty aromas. For a true English Pale Ale, you should use all English ingredients. Average ABV of 3.8-6.0%.
Well there it is, 4 great fall beers to try your hand at brewing. Let us know how everything goes and hopefully you can have these brewed and fermenting in time for a great fall home brewing experience!
Synergy Brewing Systems, where the best beer is the one you brew!