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Whether you like it or not, fall is here. I love summer and all it has to offer; I really do. But once the calendar turns to August, my focus shifts to college football hype, brisk weather, and the best combo of beer that you’ll see all year.
By the end of July, the shelves of your local liquor depot typically begin to fill up with darker beers. There’s still room for your summer seasonals and IPAs, but the arrival of the first Oktoberfest offering gets me giddy. Having all of these options, a myriad of beer festivals, and ample opportunities for the last few sessions of patio drinking are why August is the best beer month of the year. Let’s get into it.
Fall Releases Are Here
People can complain about “seasonal creep” all they want, but every time I see news of the first Oktoberfest — typically from Sierra Nevada — my malt-filled heart leaps with joy. Oktoberfests are the perfect accompanying party to any outdoor hangout that requires a long-sleeve shirt, a bonfire, the first football tailgate, or any casual night on the couch. They’re extremely drinkable with a big malt body, a bit of spice, and a smooth finish. The Germans engineered these things to be easy to drink, so putting back several in one sitting won’t lead you to the same consequences as your IPA-filled drinking sessions of summer. Plus, I’m headed to the actual Oktoberfest in Munich this year, which has amped up my Oktoberfest excitement a bit more as the days tick on.
Honorable mention to the oft-maligned other fall release, pumpkin beers. Typically they’re decent, sometimes they can be cloyingly sweet, but some are actually delicious. If you can find a local pumpkin-forward option that suits your taste buds, buy a lot of it.
Beer Festivals Are In Full Swing
The coming of August is a type of countdown for many breweries and associations who are looking to fit in their final beer festival or big outing before the weather turns and people revert to hibernation instead of recreation. This means that the eighth month of the year is typically a big one for beer festivals in your local community. Just off the top of my head for Chicago, Metropolitan already hosted their Oktoberfest beer party, the epic Great Taste of the Midwest happens this weekend, and Half Acre’s Big North Blowout comes the weekend after. That’s a full three weekends of solid drinking and good times if you play your cards right. Add in Labor Day weekend and many people will have at least two to three big events to indulge in their favorite beers, whether that’s something dark, sour, or anything in between.
Savoring The Last Few Patio Drinking Sessions
A great part about August is that it acts as a smooth bridge between the heat of summer and the crispness of fall. It does the same bridging when it comes to beer selections. Typical summer offerings like goses, session IPAs and wheat ales are still relevant while you also get the added overlap of upcoming seasonals like Oktoberfests, barrel-aged IPAs, and even brown ales. The selection of in-season, fresh beer styles that you’ll see on your local shelves this time of year is unprecedented.
Adding a great beer lineup to the last few summer weekend drinking sessions is a perfect match, as you get to experience the best temps and best beers at the same time. While September Saturdays are to be cherished for obvious reasons, the final two Saturdays of August leading up to Labor Day should be taken advantage of as you can’t take for granted the (hopefully) hot temps and myriad of outdoor activities that will still be available to you.
There may be more exciting periods of time during which to drink beer; hell, I do love the barrel-aged stouts that winter offers. But there’s something about the mix of beer, events, and day drinking that makes August the ideal month for beer drinkers. Soak it in — I know I will..