The North Carolina brewery scene has exploded over the last decade. With over 320 breweries, the state now has the most in the Southeast. Therefore, finding the perfect seasonal beer can be a bit of a challenge.
In order to cut down on the tyranny of choice, we’ve compiled a list of the best fall beers in the Tar Heel State.
Best NC Märzens (also known as Oktoberfest)
A Märzen is a Bavarian lager originally served at the Munich Oktoberfest until around 1953. This style of beer generally has a medium to full body, malty flavor, and a dry finish. Most Märzen beers are amber in color with an ABV that hovers around 6%.
Its malty backbone and slightly elevated alcohol content complement the autumn chill, therefore making it the perfect fall beer.
1. Weeping Radish Oktoberfest (Grandy) – 7%
Located near Duck on the Currituck sound, Weeping Radish focuses on German-style brews. Their Oktoberfest is a perfect fall beer as its amber color perfectly matches a coastal NC sunset.
2. Olde Hickory Märzen (Hickory) – 6%
Known for their delicious takes on classic beer styles, Hickory’s Olde Hickory Brewery‘s Oktoberfest is their entry into the fall beer canon. Because of its copper color and nutty flavor, this märzen is a perfect tribute to the Bavarian classic.
3. Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest (Mills River) – 6%
Using three different German malts and two kinds of German hops, Sierra Nevada‘s Oktoberfest pays tribute to the Munich festival. Featuring notes more floral than nutty, this Mills River brew is an especially smoother fall beer than many of its nuttier counterparts.
4. Southern Pines Brewing Co. Oktoberfest (Southern Pines) – 5.4%
Southern Pines Brewing‘s Oktoberfest is an exercise in tradition. Not only do they use German malts and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops, they ferment this beautiful fall beer with an Oktoberfest-specific yeast strain. And at only 5.4%, you can keep the celebration going just a little bit longer than usual.
5. Foothills Brewing Oktoberfest (Winston-Salem) – 5.8%
The Oktoberfest from Winston-Salem’s Foothills Brewing is another addition to the more American takes on märzen lagers. It’s a highly drinkable ale with caramel notes and a solid maltiness and features just a touch more of the bitter, hoppy characteristic of most beers in the States.
Best NC Porters
Originally developed in London in the early eighteenth century, the porter’s popularity has grown worldwide. Because of its dark color, malty backbone and light body, it’s a perfect choice when reaching into the fridge for a fall beer.
6. Fullsteam Blend No. 53 (Durham) – 6%
Durham’s Fullsteam adds a nice twist to the basic porter recipe by adding Earl Grey tea and lavender. The tea adds nice spice notes while the lavendar accentuates the malt with a nice floral nose. It’s a cozy blanket of a fall beer for the chillier nights when the fire crackles.
7. Duck-Rabbit Porter (Farmville) – 5.7%
One of North Carolina’s first craft breweries, Farmville’s Duck-Rabbit Brewery prides itself on perfecting classic styles. Thus, their entry into the fall beer market is a perfect porter — dark in color, notes of chocolate, and a delicate hoppiness. It’s a true porter’s porter.
8. Booneshine Brewing Hatchet Coffee Porter (Boone) – 6.7%
Because chocolate and coffee complement each other so well, a lot of American breweries specialize in coffee porters. Boone’s Booneshine Brewing Co. is no different. Having partnered with Hatchet Coffee, this porter features almond and caramel notes from Guatemalan coffee beans.
Best NC Brown Ales
Another excellent style of fall beer is the brown ale. Because the name was mostly used to refer simply to the color some London breweries gave their beers, the style doesn’t necessarily have a uniform profile. However, they’re usually slightly malty and mild, thus making them an ideal brew for slightly chillier temperatures.
9. Pisgah Brewing Turtleneck Brown Ale (Black Mountain) – 5.9%
Black Mountain’s stalwart Pisgah Brewing offers a simple and highly drinkable brown ale for your fall beer consideration. Featuring a malt-forward taste with a light body, this beautifully balanced brown ale is sure to please.
10. Appalachian Mountain Brewery Bo’s Nut Brown Ale (Boone) – 4.5%
Brewed in collaboration with Appalachian State University’s Ivory Tower Brewery, Boone’s Appalachian Mountain Brewing adds roasted cashews to this brown ale. Balanced against the initial maltiness characteristic of a classic brown ale, this excellent fall beer sports a smooth nuttiness that sets it apart.
Best NC Pumpkin Ales
What’s a fall beer selection without a few pumpkin ales tossed in the mix? These spicy seasonal suds are sure to scratch that autumnal itch.
11. Big Boss Harvest Time (Raleigh) – 5.5%
Not only a Raleigh beer scene staple, Big Boss Brewing Co.‘s Harvest Time Pumpkin Ale is a true fall beer. A spiced ale brewed with real pumpkins, Harvest Time has won numerous awards for its take on the autumnal ale.
12. Catawba Brewing Co. King Don’s Pumpkin Ale (Morganton) – 5.5%
If you’re heading to the mountains to take in the fall colors, stop by Morganton’s Catawba Brewing Co. and pick up a couple cans of King Don’s Pumpkin Ale. Because King Don’s is brewed with baking spices, fresh pumpkin, and five separate barley styles, this fall beer is chock full of flavor.
13. NoDa Brewing Co. Gordgeous (Charlotte) – 6.4%
This Charlotte-brewed fall beer won a gold medal at the 2018 American Beer Festival. NoDa Brewing Company‘s pumpkin ale, Gordgeous, features pumpkin and brown sugar, as well as a whole host of spices including fresh ginger, allspice, and cardamom.