We are still a few days away from fall equinox and the official end of summer. But our office is already buzzing about literal changes in the air. Evenings are starting to cool a little faster, leaves are beginning to crunch underfoot. And we’re ready to start our countdown to one of the most treasured times in Western North Carolina—Oktoberfest!
As a craft beer hub, Asheville takes seasonal beer seriously. We have already been seeing specialty fall brews in town—some traditional Oktoberfest beers, some more creative interpretations of the season. But why wait for jacket weather? Head to one of these 5 breweries for a crisp seasonal ale today.
Catawba Brewing Company – Festbier & King Don’s Pumpkin Ale
Raise a stein to Festbier, an authentic German-style lager brewed according to modern day Bavarian standards. Festbier has been on the taps for a few weeks, but King Don’s Pumpkin Ale just returned to taps last weekend. The smooth, luscious beer is back for its 22nd year, with fresh pumpkin and baking spices used in the brewing process. This year, however, you must choose your allegiance. According to Catawba, “Emperor Don’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale carries the crown to the next level.”
South Slope: 32 Banks Avenue, Asheville | (828) 552-3934
Biltmore Village: 63 Brooks Street, Asheville | (828) 424-7290
French Broad Brewing Company – Zepptemberfest
Get it while it’s hot! Or rather, while it’s perfectly chilled. French Broad’s annual fall seasonal, Zepptemberfest, has been out for just a few short weeks. Based on a traditional German Märzen, this beer ferments with a German ale yeast instead of a lager yeast for a clean lager smoothness with a big malty body. It’s perfect for fall and available only through the end of September!
101 Fairview Road #D, Asheville | (828) 277-0222
Highland Brewing Company – Clawhammer
Highland is known for their popular seasonal brews, and the Clawhammer Oktoberfest Lager is no exception. The Märzen-style lager is brewed with traditional German malt for a full-bodied taste and a toasty malt character. $1 from each pour benefits the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Load up while you can—this beer is only available through October.
12 Old Charlotte Highway, Suite 200, Asheville | (828) 299-3370
Hi-Wire Brewing – Zirkusfest & Pink Drink
Released in August and September, Zirkusfest has all the flavors you want in a rich Märzen without the heavy finish. Biscuits and honey, yum! That’s probably why it was Great American Beer Festival’s 2016 Gold Medal Winner for the German-style Märzen Category. If you’re ready for a different kind of seasonal ale, try Pink Drink. This specialty brew is a refreshing and tart wheat ale with lemongrass and raspberries. Pink Drink is available on tap and in cans for a very limited time this September.
South Slope: 197 Hilliard Avenue, Asheville | (828) 738-2448
Biltmore Village: 2 Huntsman Place, Asheville | (828) 738-2448
New Belgium Brewing Company – Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin
If the Oktoberfest beers listed above still haven’t piqued your interest, this beer will. This spicy brew features habanero peppers, Saigon cinnamon, and Aji and Del Arbol peppers. New Belgium says the seasonal puts the “fun” back in pumpkin ales. You’ll enjoy it so much you won’t care that their spelling makes no sense.
21 Craven Street, Asheville | (828) 333-6900