Ask A Cleveland Expert: Fall Beers To Try

With fall coming more quickly than some of us would like to admit, it's time to start thinking about a new group of seasonal brews to sip. Fall is a great time of year for a wide range of beers and almost all breweries have a fall harvest release to capitalize on the seasonal excitement. We spoke with Erik Kemme, a friendly and informative bartender at Fat Head's Brewery and Saloon, about some of the best fall beers to add to your tasting list.

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Erik Kemme (Credit, Kaitlin Dershaw Durbin)

Erik Kemme
Fat Head's Brewery and Saloon
24581 Lorain Road
North Olmsted, OH 44070
(440) 801-1001

Erik Kemme has been a bartender for approximately eight years. After participating in the Winking Lizard World Tour of beers with a friend, a chef who liked to create beer and entree pairings in the manner that many pair wine and cheese, Erik was hooked. His knowledge of beer was compounded when he started working at Beer Cellars, a beer heaven for everyone, from the simple pilsner drinker to the adventurous taste collector, and had to undergo training that educated him on the history of beer and how it is made. An extremely social person, bartending comes quite naturally to Erik.

Below are Erik's suggestions for some great fall beers. Don't be afraid to give these a wholehearted try, since Erik himself is a beer lover and views beer with a deep appreciation, so his suggestions are thoughtful and backed by knowledge and experience. He doesn't just see a pint, he sees a concoction that someone put a lot of thought and effort into and often leisurely drinks his beer with imaginings of the conversations, revolutions and blossoming love that have all occurred through the lens of a beer mug. If that gratitude doesn't convince you that Erik is a trustworthy source for recommendations, I'm not sure what will.

Pumking, Southern Tier (Ale, NY)

Some may find this beer a little sweet, but others look forward to fall simply for the opportunity to drink this pumpkin ale. With a crystal clear copper color, it looks pretty in a snifter, and the nose is explosive with sugar and pumpkin. Erik says this beer tastes like fall to him and it brings back fond memories of he and a high school girlfriend carving pumpkins, and soaking up the end of "hoodie weather" before getting snowed in during the winter. "Some drink to remember, that's what the Eagles said, right?" This is a great beer for people who like sweeter pumpkin ales and want to try a more "serious" option.

Ayinger Celebrator, Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG (Doppelbock, Germany)

Erik claims to have been in love with this beer at first sip. Celebrator is dark and brooding, but has a hint of cherry, as well as just the right thickness to make it seem like you are drinking something extravagant. He suggests pairing this versatile brew with a red meat, like a lightly seasoned steak or burger, but the hint of black cherry at the finish also makes it a good dessert beer. "Plus the bottle comes with a little plastic ram ('bock' means 'goat') so it's like getting a McDonald's prize without the calories." This beer is definitely an intriguing one and easy to enjoy.

Related: Ask A Cleveland Expert: Best Summertime Vodka Cocktails

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Drink responsibly (Credit, Kaitlin Dershaw Durbin)

Sixpoint Resin (Double IPA, NY)

A self-proclaimed hop addict, Erik loves what he refers to as "hop monster" beers and actively seeks anything in the 80+ IBU range. Sixpoint Resin has a "crushing" 103 IBUs and 9 percent ABV, so drinking this beer is "like getting kicked in the teeth by a pine tree, in a good way." Drinking this beer takes Erik back to camping in pine forests with his father growing up (he still can't find a smell he likes more than pine sap), a carefree kid, waking up to the smell of a seemingly endless pine forest, wondering what the day would hold. Memories flood back with the crisp fall taste of this IPA, so give it a try and see what happens for you.

Bonus favorite: Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy (Imperial Stout, Colorado)

Erik's favorite beer is the Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy and says his love for this beer cannot be overstated. This dark beer is pitch black, "pours like motor oil" and is 10.5 percent ABV. While not necessarily a beer for the novice drinker, he certainly wouldn't want to attempt an October without this heavy hitter. The malt is bold, but still leaves a sweet sensation at the finish, leaving the tips of your ears warm, and elevating your mood immediately. Give it a try if you're feeling bold this fall!

Related: Ask A Cleveland Expert: Fourth Of July Cocktail Recipes

Kaitlin Dershaw is an Ohio native with a distinct love for Cleveland. She enjoys making new discoveries from tasty places to eat and drink, to perfectly unique live music venues. Her work can be found at