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Five Colorado Beers Perfect for Kicking Off Fall

You won’t miss patio drinking (too much) with one of these brews in your hand.

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Autumn is my favorite time of year. Sure, fall’s arrival means perfect patio weather will soon be coming to an end (may all of the fruity, session IPAs rest-in-peace), but you won’t find me mourning its loss. Sweater weather is coming back, the leaves are putting on a show, and ski season is only a few months away. Fall beers are also back in style, which in Denver’s beer scene means plenty of creative flavors to enjoy. Here are five of the most enticing suds you’ll find in the Mile High City.

Spice Trade Brewing’s Chai Milk Stout

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Style: Milk Stout
Serving Type: 12-ounce can
ABV: 5.2 percent
Hop Meter* (1–10): 2
Malt Meter (1–10): 8

Photo courtesy of Spice Trade Brewing.

This is the same Chai Milk Stout that won Yak & Yeti Brewing the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013. Although Yak & Yeti is now Spice Trade Brewing Company, it still uses the same secret recipe for the chai that goes into this Chai Milk Stout. The most notable flavor here is cardamom, which gives this stout just enough spice to warm us up on a chilly night. This fall—and for the first time ever—Spice Trade is putting the Chai Milk Stout on liquor store shelves in the form of 12-ounce cans. It has must-buy status.

Factotum Brewhouse’s Märzen

Style: Festbier
Serving Type: Available on tap at Factotum Brewhouse
ABV: 6 percent
Hop Meter (1–10): 4
Malt Meter (1–10): 6.5

You could spend an entire day reading up on the minute differences between Märzens and festbiers. Both are Oktoberfest-style beers, but festbiers are seen to be a bit lighter than the former. Such is the case for Factotum Brewhouse’s Märzen—Märzen is its name, but festbier is still its game—and it’s a great call for anyone trying to go for a fall lager. It’s a bit lower on malts than what’s normally expected in an Oktoberfest lager, but I liked that. You’ll have to go to Factotum Brewhouse to get this beer, and it’s worth it. Pro tip: Head out on Tuesday night, which is always trivia night.

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Avery Brewing’s Rumpkin Ale

Style: Pumpkin Ale
Serving Type: 12-ounce bottle
ABV: 17.5 percent
Hop Meter (1–10): 3.5
Malt Meter (1–10): 9

The Rumpkin Ale is part of Avery’s barrel series. When brewers age beer in wine, whiskey, or (in this case) rum barrels, that adds to the brew’s ABV, which leads brewers to throw in massive flavor to match the high alcohol percentage. That’s the Rumpkin Ale. Before being bottled, the Rumpkin Ale was aged in rum barrels for four months. That translates to a 17.5 percent ABV and a beer that needs every ounce of the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and, of course, pumpkin—7.5 pounds of it per barrel—that Avery Brewing used. The result is a flavorful autumn brew that’s dangerously easy to wash down.

Banded Oak Brewing’s Crenshaw Melon IPA

Style: IPA
Serving Type: Only available on tap at Banded Oak Brewing, The Preservery, Park Burger RiNo, and Bistro Colorado.
ABV: 6.8 percent
Hop Meter (1–10): 7
Malt Meter (1–10): 3

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In a craft beer market like Denver’s, everyone wants to push the limits. That’s great, but sometimes the resulting flavors are a bit too exotic. With that in mind, it’s the simplicity of Banded Oak’s Crenshaw Melon IPA that I love the most. Banded Oak used only two hops (CTZ and Chinook) for this brew, but they partnered with Hirakata Farms in Rocky Ford, Colorado, to bring Crenshaw melons into the mix. This beer would be a normal West Coast-style IPA (think grapefruit and pine flavors) were it not for the melon, which solidifies this IPA as original and true to Colorado. But get it while you can—they only brewed one batch.

New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin Ale

Style: Pumpkin Ale
Serving Type: 12-ounce bottle
ABV: 6.4 percent
Hop Meter (1–10): 3
Malt Meter (1–10): 8

When New Belgium launched its Voodoo Ranger line of beers in December of 2016, company spokesman Bryan Simpson called the line New Belgium’s “most ambitious portfolio reimagining since our beginnings.” So it makes sense that Voodoo Ranger’s pumpkin ale is anything but traditional: Brewers went out on a limb and added Habanero peppers, Saigon cinnamon (strong, spicier cinnamon), and a healthy dose of malts to create the pumpkin ale’s spicier cousin. I think the risk pays off, especially for those who have grown a bit bored with the sweeter pumpkin ales.

*Both the hop and malt meters exist within the writer’s beer palate. Be jealous. 

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