From a food and drink perspective, autumn is truly awesome. It’s the season where countless new restaurants line up for launch, area farms pull in their most bountiful harvests, outdoor festivals abound and fall beers hit the taps. Fall brews come in several styles, and local breweries do them all. Here’s a look at what to sip and where to find it this September.
Oktoberfest officially starts in late September, but märzens are already showing up around town. The easy-sipping lagers with a light, sweet malt backbone are perfect for drinking right now, since they’ll warm you up on a cool night just as well as refresh you during a hot afternoon. If you want to get down with great local versions, know that Victory Festbier is pouring at Johnny Brenda’s and Sly Fox Oktoberfest is at Kraftwork and Memphis Taproom.
For a more pungent take on the season, look for Troegs Hop Knife Harvest Ale, which is made with six varieties of hops — with help from Philly Tap Finder, we spotted it at Standard Tap and Grey Lodge Pub. And instead of a fest or harvest beer, Yards goes in the opposite direction with its autumn seasonal, Pynk. The raspberry-cherry ale is as tart as it is philanthropic, since $1 from each case goes to breast cancer research. Do a good deed as you sip it at City Tap House or Kennett.
Halloween may be months away, but pumpkin-beer fans aren’t willing to wait, and many breweries introduce their gourd-full creations in late August. All 10 locations of Iron Hill Brewery release both The Great Imperial Pumpkin Ale and classic Pumpkin Ale on September 5, and brewers at each outpost are also working on creative variations of their own (think Belgian-style pumpkin, pumpkin stout and cask-conditioned pumpkin). Director of brewing operations Mark Edelson has promised that some version of pumpkin beer will remain on tap through the end of October.
Pumpkinheads should also mark their calendars for October 4, when The Institute holds its sixth annual Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Festival. Tickets are $62 (here), and get you access to dozens upon dozens of pumpkin brews, including several from our region.
If you want to drink fall seasonals at their very freshest, look to the city’s brewpubs. At Nodding Head in Center City, whole flower fresh hops have just been added to the run of Harvest Ale IPA. This year’s version incorporates Cascade and Columbus buds, as well as a bit of rye. Expect the 5.5% ABV beer to be on tap by mid- to late September. That’s also a good guess as to when you’ll be able to get a taste of Dock Street’s Man Full of Pumpkin Porter at the West Philly brewhouse.
Wherever you end up with a local beer in hand, pour one out for the last licks of summer, and drink in the taste of fall.
Johnny Brenda's: 1201 Frankford Ave.; 215-739-9684
Memphis Taproom: 2331 E. Cumberland St.; 215-4425-4460
Kraftwork: 541 E. Girard Ave.; 215-739-1700
Standard Tap: 901 N. Second St.; 215-238-0630
Grey Lodge Pub: 6235 Frankford Ave.; 215-856-3591
City Tap House: 3925 Walnut St.; 215-662-0105
Kennett: 848 S. Second St.; 267-687-1423
Iron Hill Chestnut Hill: 8400 Germantown Ave.; 215-948-5600
The Institute: 549 N. 12th St.; 267-318-7772
Nodding Head: 1516 Sansom St.; 215-569-9525
Dock Street Brewery: 701 S. 50th St.; 215-726-2337