Seasonal beers have existed for centuries. Borne of necessity, limited-engagement brews persist because there is something thrilling about a beer you look forward to all year long.
We asked brewers around the country what seasonal beers they look forward to most. From “the pilsner of tart beer,” to winter warmers, to a style that literally means “season,” here’s what brewers from Kansas to Colorado are drinking around the calendar.
“I fell in love with craft beer on Harpoon’s Winter Warmer. It’s something I always look forward to.” — Christie Merandino, Operations Manager, Transport Brewing, Shawnee, Kans.
“I have a really strong affinity for Berliner weisse. It was one of the first styles that I really got into when I got into craft beer, and I think it helped get a lot of people into sour beers. It’s the perfect thing for a hot Texas summer. When I think of seasonal, I think of hot summers and to me, [Berliner weisse] is like the pilsner of tart beers.” — Jenn Davis, Inventory Lead, Jester King Brewery, Austin, Texas
“Fall seasonal releases are my favorites. Something rich and malty, like a weizenbock or Marzen. While we make some delicious ones including Moonglow and Festbier, I am also a fan of Schneider Weisse Aventinus or Boston Beer’s Octoberfest.” — James Gentile, Director Brewery Operations, Victory Brewing, Downingtown, Pa.
“Winter warmer. It’s super flavorful, it’s such a quintessential beer to have in wintertime, and it’s so different. You can make it with all kinds of spices in it, all kinds of hops, people make it all kinds of ways… I really like that style. It’s been gaining a lot of traction. I saw a ton of winter beers this year.” — Jane Wiseman, Operations Manager, Clandestine Brewing, San Jose, Calif.
“I am a German pilsner fan. You get those nice, spicy hop notes, and it goes down really easy. It’s really hot here, so that is typically what you’ll find me drinking probably nine times out of 10.” — Laurie Bell, Bar Manager, St. Elmo Brewing, Austin, Texas
“Nothing says ‘fall’ like the malty goodness of Oktoberfest. I love the history of Oktoberfest, and a Marzen brings a little bit of Munich to me. For me, it’s pumpkin in my pie and Oktoberfest in my mug!” — Jason Abbott, Head Brewer, Seedstock Brewery, Denver, Colo.
“I come from hop country, so it will be the fresh hop ale. It’s very exciting. We’ll have our hops harvested, get them off the sorter [the machine that separates the hop cones from the bines]… pick up those bales straight from that machine, and drive it to our brewery 45 minutes north and put it into our beer. It is the best beer ever. There’s a reason there’s a cult following around fresh hops. Fresh hops is Christmas.” — Rikki Welz, Director of Optimism, Iron Horse Brewery, Ellensburg, Wash.
“Seasonal hot-weather beers, [like] seasonal sours. Berliner weisse is one of the favorites.” — Kristie Leims, Co-Founder and General Manager, The Brewtorium, Austin, Texas
“Bell’s Brewery Best Brown. I grew up in Michigan, and this was one of the beers that got me hooked on craft beer. It’s a delicious malt-forward beer that satisfies during the cold months. Sadly, brown ales are ‘untrendy,’ but perhaps that will change soon.” — Kelly Lynch, Head Brewer, Berthoud Brewing, Berthoud, Colo.
“Sierra [Nevada] Celebration.” — Phin DeMink, Founder/Owner, Southern Tier Brewing, Lakewood, N.Y.
“Personally, my favorite style of beer is saison, which actually means ‘season.’ I really like beers that derive their flavor from yeast. It has to be well made, so I like a beautiful, dry, effervescent, pretty highly carbonated, fruity, spicy saison that almost leans towards Champagne. — Caroline Parnin, Technical Sales Manager, Siebel Institute of Technology, Milwaukee, Wisc.
“Ayinger Celebrator. This may even be a year-round release, but to me, Doppelbock is a winter seasonal and this one’s one of the best out there. Perhaps my all-time favorite beer!” — John Schnettler, Cellar Brewer, Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo.
“German Oktoberfest lagers all day.” — Charlie Cummings, Head Brewer, Remnant Brewing, Sommerville, Mass.
“What do I look forward to every year? It’s gotta be barrel-aged stouts. I love barrel-aged stouts. You can’t drink them all year round because they’re big and they’re boozy, and the warmer they get, the more open they become. Winter is definitely my season for barrel-aged stouts.” — Meryl Wideman, Lab Technician, Deep Ellum Brewing, Dallas, Texas