For people just beginning to dip their toes into the craft beer scene, autumn just might be the perfect season to take that headfirst plunge. With the varieties of beer that emerge during fall, it’s no wonder so many brew festivals occur between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. From beer geeks to nov- ices, there is something for everybody during this flavorful season. What’s more, the dominant hoppy overtones tend to fade away during fall, which can make newcomers a bit less apprehensive about getting through that “acquire the taste” stage often associated with bitter beers.

There are certainly the classics of fall: the German Marzen, Nut Brown, and American Amber, which pack a ton of flavor, but are not overtly heavy so as to fill you up after a single pint. They also offer choices for the beginners because of their not-so-aggressive qualities. However, there are two styles that often go unnoticed by many: Ciders and sour beers. While not the traditional fall libations for many beer enthusiasts, they conjure up thoughts and visions of what fall is all about – the harvest. While traditional beers help us adjust to the wintertime stouts and porters, these two rogues celebrate the bounty that comes with autumn by using and infusing the very fruits that make fall so magical.

Ciders can be both refreshing and heartwarming. Yes, the beer crowd will protest that ciders are not beer, and that is true. However, ciders get lumped in with the beer family, whether beer likes it or not. Considering its astronomic increase in presence over the last few years, it’s safe to include it in a fall beer article. And what better area to indulge in cider than the San Joaquin Valley? With the 90°F Septembers, a refreshing cider is just what those macho men crave after a cramping, asthmatic game of backyard football. With the base of ciders deriving from apples, many variations are hitting the store shelves; some of these include strawberry, mango, and green apple. With autumn upon us, one might be able to find some unique flavor infusions such as pumpkin spice or hibiscus.

And then there are the sour beers. Sours are not for the faint of heart, but you certainly don’t have to be a beer aficionado to enjoy them. They taste exactly like they sound – sour, and often times they don’t taste like a conventional beer. Sour beers are fermented with wild yeast (more like “accidental” yeast) that enters the unfermented beer from the surrounding environment. This unpredictable conception then brings out fantastically wild notes that would otherwise never be discovered. Some might claim that sours are an acquired taste, but the acquirement stage only lasts through the first gulp as your taste buds get used to this unique brew. Sour beers are fruity, full-bodied, and just downright fun.

So sure, you can grab a pack of your go-to autumn ale and scoff at the cider sippers and sour snobs, or you can listen to your taste buds; they yearn for an exciting and adventurous fall. This season does not have to be only about darker colors and German beers (although they are outstanding in their own rights); it can be about overloading on flavor, sensations, and possibilities. Cheers.