Oakland Park, Florida
You just knew the cult-favorite Florida brewery that famously releases Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Blueberry Cobbler beers was going to bring it with a Lemon Meringue Pie brew, didn't you? And it sure did, adding lemon and vanilla to its blonde ale to create a beer that smells like citrus and tastes like a lusty mix of lemons and vanilla. Let's be real: Beers like this can be an absolute sugary mess in the hands of a less competent brewer. Funky Buddha is what it is because it knocks these types of beers out of the park consistently.
What was once a one-off beer is now a seasonal available Oct-Dec, just in time to pair perfectly with Thanksgiving dessert (no, bourbon's not a dessert). The beer's brewed with Vermont maple syrup, bourbon-soaked oak chips, and Japanese pecans, resulting in pecan pie aromas on the nose and delicious maple notes on the finish. Any beer that's 9.8% with this level of sweetness is meant to be a sipper, so be sure to pour yourself a glass the second anyone at your family's Thanksgiving dinner starts talking about politics.
The majority of the beers in this rundown are on the sweet side. Mama Bear's brings balance to the pie-beer universe by going sour. Crooked Stave has fast gained a nationwide reputation after it made every beer nerd in Colorado's taste buds explode (in a good way!) beginning in 2011. This offering is a burgundy sour aged in oak with Colorado cherries, and the end result is a delightful mouthful of tart cherries, cinnamon, vanilla, and oak.
Drinking an "experimental beer" sounds a little foreboding, but it shouldn't when it comes to this Key lime beer -- especially one that's won two awards in the Experimental Beer category at the Great American Beer Festival. Short's, like Funky Buddha, is on the short list of beloved breweries not afraid to go big with off-the-wall, fruit-enhanced beers. This fan-favorite imparts graham cracker, Marshmallow Fluff, and fresh limes. Perhaps most importantly, the brew fills up the part of your soul that is too lazy to bake and eat a pie, but has just enough energy to walk to the fridge and crack open a beer.