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Seasonal Craft Beer: Fall Edition

231A6966-EditLate August is a particularly fun time to be eating and drinking (especially for me because it’s my birthday!) but also because the seasons are noticeably changing. For our farmers, things like tomatoes and berries are transitioning out and summer squashes are just around the corner. It also means we’re moving away from some of my favorite Summer beers, like Fullsteam’s Southern Basil and Wicked Weed’s Coolcumber, and moving into the best seasonal categories of beer in my opinion: pumpkin ale and Oktoberfest.

I was speaking with a guest at the bar a couple weeks back in H.AVE and he was wondering why fall seasonals arrive so early. It makes little sense that pumpkin ales start showing up before most breweries could even have begun to source them for their products. Similarly, Oktoberfest is perfect for a crisp autumn evening, yet it’s still 80 plus degrees when they hit the shelves. Unfortunately friends, it’s our fault. The craft beer industry is growing so fast that some of its most successful breweries, like Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada, make hundreds of thousands of barrels per year. They are so large, that in many ways, they dictate the business patterns of many other smaller breweries. When large retail stores are looking to fill their sku numbers for the upcoming fall, many times they look to volume partners release dates to fill these slots. Because a large brewery like Sam Adams releases their Fall ales in August, smaller operations are forced to do likewise or completely miss out on the opportunity to retail their product. The good news is, because craft beer is growing so rapidly, they’re making more fall beer than ever this year. Grab a pumpkin ale or Oktoberfest and bemoan with your friends that there are a few small side-effects of all this growth in the industry. Below are a few of my favorites for the season:

Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale: Still the original recipe since being sold to Foothills Brewing, this one wasn’t broken so they didn’t fix it.

Mecktober Fest: In a style that is tough to stick out, Olde Meck in Charlotte nails it. Don’t forget to visit the brewery’s new digs for some German-inspired cuisine to go with your lager.


Robert Locke
General Manager at Highland Avenue


883 Highland Avenue SE
Hickory, North Carolina 28602
Open Mon - Sat at 5pm