Which Mobile Food Business Is Right for You?

It’s no secret that food trucks are taking the nation by storm, serving nearly 2.5 billion people per day. Their popularity has grown so rapidly that several cities are known for their food truck scene. With the food truck market estimated to reach $996 million by the end of 2020, you may be interested in joining this thriving industry.

Before you do, you may want to ask yourself if a food truck is right for you or if there is a better mobile food business model that would better suit your business. We set out to compare food trucks, food trailers, and food carts to help you determine which vehicle would be best for your mobile kitchen endeavors.

Food Truck vs Food Trailer vs Food Cart

People Buying Food at a Food Truck

Mobile food businesses come in various styles and sizes to serve a variety of purposes. It is important to consider their differentiating characteristics before choosing your primary food transport vehicle.

These are the main characteristics to review when deciding between a food truck vs food trailer or a food cart vs food truck:

1. Mobile Kitchen Size

The size of your mobile kitchen will determine where you can park and what types of events you can attend.

  • Food Trailer - the largest in size, ranging from 8-53 feet long and 7-8 1/2 feet wide
  • Food Truck - usually ranges from 10-26 feet long and 7 feet wide
  • Food Cart - smallest in size, ranging 4-7 feet long and 2-6 feet wide

2. Kitchen Space and Storage Capacity

The size of your interior kitchen space can have an impact on what you can bring with you and your staff size.

  • Food Trailer - large enough for full-sized restaurant equipment, cleaning supplies, and full cooking staff
  • Food Truck - reduced size may call for more dependence on countertop cooking equipment, space-saving storage solutions, and a staff of 1-3 cooks
  • Food Cart - limited space may call for very few small appliances and warmers and a staff of 1-2 employees

3. Mobile Kitchen Price

Start to shape your budget by knowing what a mobile kitchen may cost you before you invest.

  • Food Trailer - ~$30,000-$50,000
  • Food Truck - ~$50,000 - $250,000
  • Food Cart - ~$5,000 - $20,000

4. Vehicle Mobility

The way a mobile kitchen navigates can help determine which events and locations they best cater to.

  • Food Trailer - Needs to be towed from place to place, may be too large for certain parking locations
  • Food Truck - vehicle and kitchen in one, can be driven from place to place
  • Food Cart - Needs to be pushed by hand, attached to a bicycle, or towed from main kitchen to serving location

5. Mobile Kitchen Location and Event Type

The type of locations and events a mobile kitchen is designed for can help you choose the right one for your business model.

  • Food Trailer - large events, seasonal fairs, wedding and concert venues
  • Food Truck - city street, fairs and carnivals, block parties, parks
  • Food Cart - city sidewalks, amusement parks, boardwalks

6. Mobile Kitchen Menu Capabilities

The size and selections of your menu can be directly impacted by the size of your mobile kitchen

  • Food Trailer - can have a full menu, multi-course menu
  • Food Truck - narrowed to a few items that follow a similar theme or cuisine type
  • Food Cart - limited to one or two specialty items and some snacks

7. Purpose

Choose a mobile kitchen that best helps you reach your target demographic.

  • Food Trailer - long-term parking, multi-day events
  • Food Truck - stop-and-go location hopping
  • Food Cart - foot traffic and walking distance coverage of a location

The vehicle type you choose can ultimately impact your entire food truck business plan, so it is important to consider these factors early in the process. Ultimately, the best vehicle for your brand will come down to your goals and budget.

Food Truck

Food trucks are one of the most popular mobile food vehicles in the United States. If you’re considering starting a food truck, check out some of the pros and cons before your buy.

Holiday Food Truck with customers

What Is a Food Truck?

A food truck is the combination of a motor vehicle and a kitchen. Food trucks are typically 16 feet long and 7 feet wide but can range in size from 10-26 feet long. This versatile vehicle is designed for street parking to serve pedestrians that may be passing by. Food is prepared and cooked in the vehicle and sold to individual customers from the window on the side of the truck.


Here are some benefits of choosing a food truck for your business over a food trailer or food cart:

  • Kitchen does not need to be towed, making it extremely mobile and easy to take from one location to the next more lucrative location
  • Single unit means you don’t need a separate transport vehicle
  • Vehicle size easily fits down most city streets and in most parking spaces, providing a simple driving experience
  • Compact size means fewer appliances to clean than a standard kitchen
  • Mobility makes it perfect for stop-and-go services and provides access to spots all across town
  • Versatility of the space allows for a flexible menu and menu experimentation
  • Since food trucks are extremely popular, they have excellent resale value


Depending on your business model, there may be some downsides to choosing a food truck instead of a food trailer or food cart:

  • Automotive troubles mean your whole business stops until the issue is fixed
  • Highest upfront cost compared to other mobile food vehicles, usually $100,000 to $200,000
  • Maintenance and upgrades can prove to be expensive if needed
  • A lot of paperwork, licensing, and permits are required, including zoning permits, health permits, signage permits, alarm permits, etc.
  • Limited kitchen space means a limited menu and staff
  • Only available in a limited number of size options
  • Built-in power generator can take up precious kitchen space
  • The more miles put on the truck, the more it depreciates in value

To find out more information on purchasing a food truck, check out our how to buy a food truck buying guide.

Food Trailer

If you’re looking for more space, a food trailer may be the right option for you. Keep reading to learn about the specifications, pros, and cons of food trailers to determine which mobile food vehicle is the best for your business.

Seafood Food Trailer at night

What Is a Food Trailer?

A food trailer is a mobile kitchen that you hitch onto a vehicle to tow from one location to the next. Kitchen trailers can vary greatly in size, ranging anywhere from 8-53 feet long and 7-8 1/2 feet wide. These ever-customizable vehicles are designed to cater to large crowds during multi-hour or even multi-day events like weddings and state fairs.


The following are some benefits of choosing a food trailer over a food truck or food cart:

  • Kitchen can be towed by any vehicle, so business does not need to stop for vehicle maintenance
  • Since the kitchen trailer and transport vehicle are not connected, the trailer can be dropped off at an event and the vehicle can be used to run errands during the event
  • Generally less expensive than food trucks, and up to 1 1/2 feet wider for more space
  • Large size allows food business to cater large venues
  • Large internal blueprint provides ample space for full-sized equipment, ingredient storage, disposables, and cleaning supplies
  • Full kitchen means you can offer a multi-course menu, have a full staff, and serve several customers at once
  • Varying sizes allows you to find a food trailer in your budget and customized to your needs and specifications
  • Can be used as a secondary kitchen to expand on the space of an existing building or used as a primary kitchen during renovations/disaster relief
  • Mileage is not logged on the trailer, so you can continuously take it from location to location without worrying about depreciation in value caused by an increase in mileage


There are some downsides associated with concession trailers that are important to consider before making your purchase:

  • An external vehicle with a hitch is required to move the trailer, the vehicle also needs to be powerful enough to tow the trailer
  • Large size can make it difficult or impossible to maneuver down certain streets and can limit the number of parking locations available
  • Before moving the food trailer, it will need to be packed up and hitched back up to the transport vehicle
  • An external generator may be needed depending on the specifications of your trailer

If you’re looking to cater wedding venues with your mobile food business or establish a booth at your local state fair, a concession trailer may be the right choice to expand your business beyond a brick-and-mortar location.

Food Cart

If you’re just starting your food business or looking to target more foot traffic with your seasoned specialties, a food cart may be a great way to reach the most customers in your area. Learn more about the pros and cons of selecting a food cart for your business model by reading on.

Food Cart on busy city sidewalk

What Is a Food Cart?

A food cart is a compact mobile kitchen that can either be pushed by hand or towed with a car or bicycle. Food carts range in size from 4-7 feet long and 2-6 feet wide. The food server will generally serve from behind the cart since they are typically not enclosed structures. Most food carts only have one piece of cooking equipment and a warmer to hold food at temperature. Food carts are designed to attract foot traffic from nearby walking paths to serve an individual customer at a time.


Explore the following benefits of a food cart to help you make your mobile food vehicle decision:

  • Highly affordable option for new business owners to get into the mobile food scene
  • Compact size is perfect for busy sidewalks to target specific walking paths during lunch rushes in major cities
  • Mobility allows you to bring food options to locations where large brick-and-mortar cannot go, such as parks, fairs, boardwalks
  • Does not need to be hitched to be transported, meaning that you can quickly readjust your location to target a more lucrative spot
  • Can help create a close relationship with locals because carts provide eye-level customer service
  • Space-saving size allows for simple and safe storage overnight and during off-seasons
  • Comes with a reputation of a niche menu, allowing your cart to be known for its signature selections in the neighborhood


The compact size of a food cart can also come with some drawbacks for your business.

  • Lack of full-sized kitchen equipment limits the menu selections you are able to serve
  • Limited storage space does not allow for the storage of many ingredients, to-go containers, or cleaning supplies
  • Mobility of the carts is fully dependent on your own foot power, additional vehicle or bicycle may be needed to transport it further
  • Stigma associated with the lack of cleanliness of food carts can keep potential customers away

A food cart can be a great vehicle to help you start a farmers market stand or serve refreshing summer treats on your local boardwalk.

Mobile food vehicles have continued to dominate foodservice trends from year to year, and we’re expecting to see their popularity continue to rise as customers reduce their dine-in options due to the coronavirus. Whether you're deciding between a food truck vs food cart, you can use the pros and cons above to find the perfect mobile food business for your menu.

Posted in: Food Trucks & Concessions | By Janine Jones

How to Make Hard Seltzer the Easy Way

Gone are the boring barroom days of customers ordering simple bottles of beer and glasses of red wine. Now, you’ll see a range of craft beers with artistic labels and designer cocktails. Perhaps the most popular drinks showing up in modern bars are sleek, lean cans of hard seltzer. Stocking cans of hard seltzer has become essential, but why only supply canned hard seltzer brands when you can produce your own with ingredients you already have on hand?

Hard seltzer is one of 2020's top bar trends. Restaurants, taprooms, and pubs can increase their profits by tapping into hard seltzer's popularity and making their own hard seltzer. We’ve created a guide explaining what hard seltzer is, why it’s so profitable, and how you can easily make it yourself.

Click the link below to jump ahead and learn how to make hard seltzer the easy way.

Easy Hard Seltzer Recipe

What Is Hard Seltzer?

raspberry and orange peel floating in seltzer

By definition, the only requirement for a beverage to be a hard seltzer is that it contains seltzer water and alcohol. However, specialty brewing markets have popped up to develop the most popular brands and forms of hard seltzer you find in stores.

With seltzer water being an essential hard seltzer ingredient, it’s helpful to understand what the various forms of sparkling water are and how they are developed.

  • Sparkling/Carbonated Water: These are generic terms used to describe any bubbling water.
  • Seltzer: Seltzer is artificially carbonated, plain water made by dissolving carbon dioxide. This process raises the pH balance.
  • Club Soda: Like seltzer, club soda is an artificially carbonated water made by dissolving carbon dioxide. Club soda also contains potassium and/or sodium salts to combat the carbon dioxide's acidic taste.
  • Soda Water: Commonly used to describe the water that comes from a bar's soda gun, soda water rarely contains added salts. However, soda water can be used to describe both club soda and seltzer water.
  • Sparkling Mineral Water: Sparkling mineral water comes from natural springs filled with sulfur and minerals which organically carbonate it. Sparkling mineral water has both the most distinctive taste and the highest cost of all the sparkling waters, making it an undesirable choice for crafting housemade hard seltzer beverages.

What Kind of Alcohol Is in Hard Seltzer?

Most popular hard seltzer brands do not contain liquor. Usually, the alcohol found in hard seltzer is produced by fermenting cane sugar. Unfermented varieties of hard seltzer require a 40 proof liquor. Vodka is a versatile option. White rum and tequila are alternative choices for enticing those who don’t favor vodka.

Benefits of Making Your Own Hard Seltzer

You can turn a major profit by making your own hard seltzer with the ingredients already stocked in your restaurant or bar. Here are the top benefits of making your own hard seltzer.

  1. Cost-Effective: Making your own hard seltzer with the ingredients you have on hand (ex. the soda water from your soda gun) is far more cost-effective than stocking up on cans of hard seltzer.
  2. Customizable Flavors: Offer customers a list of customizable hard seltzer flavor combinations. Not only will customers enjoy designing their own hard seltzer, but you can also upcharge for this experience.
  3. Simplify Inventory Management: Eliminate the guesswork of estimating how much hard seltzer you need to stock and avoid running out of supplies by making your own.

How Hard Seltzer Is Made

Most canned varieties of hard seltzer are produced by fermenting cane sugar and then adding carbonation and flavors. Unlike the simple vodka soda, brewing hard seltzer is as complex as creating craft beer with the additional challenges of filtering water to achieve clarity, carbonating, and aroma stripping to remove strong acid and sulfur flavors. On average, from scratch hard seltzers undergo five filtration steps and a flavoring process before they are ready to serve. However, you can update the classic vodka soda recipe to dupe brewed varieties of hard seltzer.

Easy Hard Seltzer Recipe

3 glasses of hard seltzer on an outdoor bar surface with various fruit garnishes

We’ve simplified the hard seltzer making process so your business can tap into the profitable hard seltzer market without expensive equipment or labor-intensive steps. Just adding liquor to soda water won’t yield the flavor hard seltzer fans seek. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you make your hard seltzer.

  1. The average hard seltzer ABV is 5%.
  2. Recognizable hard seltzer brands include citric acid in their recipes for a slight zing.
  3. The average hard seltzer is 100 calories.
  4. Patrons will choose your signature hard seltzer over familiar canned varieties if you create pretty presentations and personalized experiences with homemade cocktail bitters and fruit juices.

Basic Housemade Hard Seltzer Ingredient Ratios:

  • 12 oz. of soda water: While traditional hard seltzers use seltzer water, you can use the soda water from your bar’s soda gun without noticeably altering the hard seltzer flavor profile guests expect.
  • 1.78 oz.of 40 proof liquor: Vodka is an easily adaptable choice.
  • Up to 1-2 drops of flavored extracts: Fruit flavors are popular.
  • .25 oz of fruit juice.
  • A tiny pinch of citric acid powder.
  • Add cocktail bitters to enhance your hard seltzer's flavor profile. Choose the appropriate quantity for achieving your desired flavor.

Why People Drink Hard Seltzer

Over the last few years, consumers have taken an interest in finding less sugar and calorie-laden alternatives to their favorite foods and beverages. Hard seltzer has emerged as an appealing alcoholic beverage choice for today's health-minded market. Offering a housemade hard seltzer allows you to accommodate gluten-sensitive patrons and add a calorically lighter item to your bar menu. Here are the top reasons why people drink hard seltzer.

  • Calorie-Conscious: Most hard seltzers contain approximately 2 grams of carbohydrates, 100 calories, and 5% ABV in a 12 oz. serving.
  • Convenient: Most hard seltzer drinkers appreciate that it comes in convenient, ready-to-consume cans. Consider serving your signature hard seltzer in to-go cups and including it in your alcohol delivery and takeaway service.
  • Affordable Luxury: Thanks to the sleek designs and attractive branding most hard seltzer brands use, hard seltzer has gained a reputation as an affordable luxury for those who enjoy active and social lifestyles.
  • Gluten-Free and Comparatively Hydrating: For gluten-sensitive patrons, hard seltzer is a low ABV, easy-to-drink alternative to beer. Additionally, hard seltzer trumps beer as an outdoor patio dining beverage option, because it is far more hydrating.

Hard Seltzer vs Beer

can of White Claw black cherry hard seltzer laying in ice beside a bottle of Corona beer

According to a 2020 Nielsen report, weekly hard seltzer sales have surpassed every other member of the pale ale beer category. 51% of people who identified as hard seltzer drinkers reported that they now actively choose hard seltzers over their previous alcoholic beverage of choice. Of those who used to order a beer at restaurants and bars, 52% now purchase hard seltzer.

While market analyzers expected hard seltzer’s popularity to dive during colder months, it maintained a 5% hold on the retail beer sales category throughout the fall and winter in 2019. While hard seltzer and beer share enough commonalities to be looked at side by side in a research report, they aren’t synonymous. In this section, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between hard seltzer and beer.

Hard Seltzer and Beer’s Similarities

  • Undergo a fermentation process
  • Low ABV
  • Cheaper than cocktails/liquors
  • Carbonated

Hard Seltzer and Beer’s Differences

  • Hard Seltzer is lower in calories than beer.
  • While there are many unique types of beer, each possesses a strong flavor profile, whereas hard seltzers offer just a hint of flavor.
  • Beer contains gluten, and hard seltzer does not.
  • While both hard seltzer and beer are carbonated, carbonation is the defining feature of hard seltzer whereas beer is only slightly carbonated.

What Is Seltzer Beer?

Seltzer beer is a form of hard seltzer that uses malted barley rather than fermented cane sugar. Its appeal isn’t as universal as fermented cane sugar hard seltzer options because it is not gluten-free. Additionally, many seltzer beers contain more added sugars than their fermented cane sugar counterparts, increasing their calorie count and losing their target audience, which primarily chooses hard seltzer drinks as a calorie-conscious alternative. If they’re going to indulge in a higher calorie option, most customers would rather have a good craft brew than a seltzer beer.

In-house hard seltzers can be customized and upcharged while remaining very inexpensive to produce. We've crafted a hard seltzer recipe that uses ingredients you already have on hand. Use our recipe as the baseline for your own signature hard seltzer and watch your profits soar.

Posted in: Recipes | Menu Tips | Bars & Breweries | By Corrinn McCauley

What to Eat When You Have the Flu

The coronavirus pandemic and its drastic effects on the restaurant industry are still at the forefront of everyone's concerns this year, but flu season is fast approaching and shouldn't be forgotten. Thankfully, there's a flu vaccine that can help to protect you and your staff from catching the bug. While getting yourself vaccinated is beneficial, there are also many types of foods with vitamins and minerals that have potent, flu-fighting abilities. Check out our list of some of the best foods for fighting the flu this fall season.

When Is Flu Season?

In the US, flu season occurs every fall and winter. The season usually begins in October, peaks between December and February, and can drag on as late as May. If you're planning to incorporate these healthy, flu-fighting foods into your restaurant's menu, add them in September or October. This way, your customers' and employees' immune systems have time to strengthen before the season begins.

Top 10 Flu Fighting Foods

If you're sick, you may be wondering what to eat when you have the flu. These foods not only help you fight the flu, but they build up your immune system so you can fight off other maladies, such as colds and sore throats. Here are ten of the best foods that you can add to your menu to help fight the flu:

1. Butternut Squash

cooked butternut squash on a plate

Butternut squash is known as a superfood because of its excellent health benefits. This squash has anti-inflammatory properties essential for fighting off sickness. Butternut squash has vitamin B6 for nervous and immune system health, dietary fiber for heart health, and potassium to strengthen your bones.

Conveniently, butternut squash is available in October and November, so it's a classic fall food to eat when you have the flu. You can roast butternut squash to bring out its sweetness, or use a spiralizer to create noodles for a low-carb pasta alternative. Butternut squash can also be pureed into a creamy, golden soup that's as comforting as it is nutritious.

2. Carrots

Did you know that carrots play an excellent role in protecting not only our immune systems but also our skin? Beta-carotene, found in carrots, helps in the production of healthy cells in our immune systems and turns into vitamin A that encourages healthy skin. Our skin is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, and a healthy skin barrier can prevent you from becoming sick. Carrots are in season in the fall, so it's easy to add fresh, local carrots to your menu as a part of your flu-fighting foods.

3. Berries

bowl with cranberries

Berries of all kinds are a delicious source of vitamins and antioxidants essential for fighting the flu and other diseases. Vitamin C, which is found in many types of berries, can prevent stress from overwhelming our bodies by boosting our immune systems. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are some of the most common berries eaten in the US, but we've also been introduced to superfoods like the goji berry and the acai berry.

The elderberry is believed to boost the immune system and can be brewed into teas or cooked to make syrup or jam. Don't forget about the cranberry! A classic fall fruit, cranberries come into season in October and have a variety of health benefits to help fight the flu.

4. Beets

Beets act as a natural cleanser for the body, eliminating toxins and purifying the liver and bloodstream, which helps you recover from the cold or flu faster. As an added benefit, beets can help fight inflammation in your kidneys, improve your digestion, and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. When you prep your beets, make sure to set the greens aside for another dish because not only are they edible, they also have their own nutritional benefits.

5. Oranges

orange next to a juicer and cutting board

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes contain high amounts of vitamin C, which can shorten the time you're sick if eaten frequently. Oranges also have 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, so you can get all of your vitamins easily.

Besides high levels of vitamin C, oranges help control your blood sugar, strengthen your immune system, and prevent constipation, making them an excellent food option to prevent sickness. Incorporate citrus fruits or fresh-squeezed citrus juices into your menu items this fall.

6. Green Tea

Green tea has a multitude of health benefits, and it's an excellent beverage for both preventing the flu and helping you beat the virus more quickly. Green tea is full of catechins, a type of antioxidant that can help fight off viral infections. Drinking green tea regularly can help reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes and even help you lose weight.

Plus, if you're already sick, drinking green tea can soothe sore throats and give you a boost of energy. As a bonus, green tea matcha powder has the same benefits as the brewed tea and can be added to your recipes for an extra helping of antioxidants.

7. Ginger

ginger root being sliced by a knife on a cutting board

If you find yourself trying to treat the common flu symptoms of nausea and body aches, ginger may be the relief you need. Ginger root is often used to reduce nausea in pregnant women, but its anti-inflammatory benefits can also help those who have a cold or the flu. It's also believed that ginger is a natural pain reliever, which can contribute to easing the aches and pains many experience with the flu.

Luckily for patients fighting the flu, it doesn't take much to gain the benefits that ginger provides since it's so concentrated. Use freshly peeled ginger root in tea, soups, or to add zippy flavor to fall desserts.

8. Garlic

Not only can you ward off vampires this Halloween, but garlic will also protect you from the common cold and is one of the best foods for the flu. Garlic, along with many other ingredients found on this list, is packed full of antioxidants which can stimulate your immune system to work harder. In addition to its flu-fighting vitamins, garlic can also help reduce cholesterol levels and help improve heart health.

9. Leafy Greens

bowl of leafy greens

It's time to expand your menu to include other types of leafy greens besides the familiar options like kale and spinach. There's a wide world of leafy green vegetables that contain fiber to help with digestion as well as important nutrients like vitamin C and folic acid to support the immune system.

Try introducing collard greens, bok choy, or Swiss chard to your fall menu for a dose of flu-fighting potential. Greens are easy to add to soups and can be sauteed on their own to make a side dish. You can even sneak leafy greens into blended smoothies without altering the taste.

10. Broth

Drinking clear beverages like water, juice, or hot tea is essential for staying hydrated when sick, but broth is another great option. It not only provides a soothing effect for sore throats, but it also contains little fiber content so your body doesn't need to work to digest it. Choose broth instead of stock because it has seasonings that make it more flavorful to sip on its own. Broth is also higher in sodium, which is a benefit in this case since salt helps to keep your system hydrated when fighting off the flu, cold, or other viruses.

Whether you're looking to prevent yourself from catching the flu this season or you want to speed up your recovery, these 10 foods can help. An outbreak among your customers or employees can affect your business, so you should be prepared. Plus, customers may appreciate healthy options and flu-fighting foods on your menu.

Posted in: Seasonal | By Richard Traylor

Best Fall Beers of 2020

The autumn season is upon us, and beer lovers everywhere are awaiting the return of their favorite fall seasonal beers. Pumpkin, maple, ginger, and other fall flavors find their way onto beer lists everywhere this time year. Not a fan of pumpkin beers? That's OK because pumpkins aren't the only star of the fall harvest. The end of summer marks the beginning of hop harvest season when freshly picked hops are immediately brewed into fragrant, full-flavored beers. From seasonal stouts to fall-inspired sours, we've made a list of the 8 best fall beer styles to try in 2020.

1. Oktoberfest Beer

Oktoberfest Beer

Although the original Oktoberfest was held in celebration of a Bavarian royal wedding in the early 19th century, the birth of the Oktoberfest beer gives us a reason to celebrate today. You can plan an Oktoberfest night at your bar or restaurant and promote this iconic beer. This style features a toasted, bready flavor with relatively low hop bitterness.

Give These Oktoberfests a Try:
  • Ayinger Brewing Oktober Fest-Marzen (Ayinger, Germany) 5.8% ABV
  • The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Mecktoberfest (Charlotte, NC) 5.4% ABV
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company Oktoberfest (Cleveland, OH) 6.5% ABV
  • New Glarus Brewing Company Staghorn Octoberfest (New Glarus, WI) 6.25% ABV

2. Hard Cider

Beer purists tend to have strong feelings about hard cider. No, it’s not beer, but it’s a smart choice to include in your seasonal offerings all the same. Providing an alternative to the hoppy, malty flavors of beer ensures you have an option for everyone. Hard cider is usually gluten-free and has the crisp, refreshing taste of apples or other fruit.

Give These Hard Ciders a Try:
  • Blake's Hard Cider Company Caramel Apple (Armada, MI) 6.5% ABV
  • Woodchuck Hard Cider Private Reserve Pumpkin (Middlebury, VT) 6.9% ABV
  • Wyndridge Cider Company PA Gold Rush (York, PA) 6.5% ABV
  • Angry Orchard Hard Cider Crisp Apple (Walden, NY) 5% ABV

3. Pumpkin Beer

Pumpkin Beer

The minute September 1st rolls around, pumpkin domination begins and doesn’t truly end until winter is over. Pumpkin beer is a popular part of this trend, and although not every beer lover is on board, you should offer at least one pumpkin spice beer style for those who can’t get enough.

Give These Pumpkin Beers a Try:
  • Troegs Brewing Company Master of Pumpkins Ale (Hershey, PA) 7.5% ABV
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Company Pumpkinator (Houston, TX) 10% ABV
  • Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumking (Lakewood, NY) 8.6% ABV
  • Elysian Brewing Company The Great Pumpkin (Seattle, WA) 8.1% ABV

4. Sour Beer

Sour beers have seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years. This beer style has been around for centuries and is known for tangy, complex flavors. The tart, acidic flavor is popular during the hot summer months, but a crisp sour ale can be satisfying on a chilly autumn day.

Give These Sour Beers a Try:
  • Bruery Terreux Sour In The Rye (Anaheim, CA) 7.7% ABV
  • Upland Brewing Company Pawpaw Sour (Bloomington, IN) 7.3% ABV
  • New Belgium Pumpkin Tart (Fort Collins, CO) 7% ABV
  • Collective Arts Brewing Sour Harvest Saison (Hamilton, Ontario) 5% ABV

5. Amber Ale

These malty beers offer a deep amber color that matches the leaves outside while boasting a warm flavor that makes them perfect for when sweater season is upon us. Also known as “red ale,” this style of beer gets its color from the use of specialty malts. Amber ales have a strong malt flavor evenly balanced with hops.

Give These Amber Ales a Try:
  • Half Acre Beer Company Ginger Twin (Chicago, IL) 6.5% ABV
  • Pipeworks Brewing Company Blood Of The Unicorn (Chicago, IL) 6.5% ABV
  • AleSmith Brewing Company Evil Dead Red (San Diego, CA) 6.66% ABV
  • 21st Amendment Brewery Toaster Pastry (San Francisco, CA) 7.6% ABV

6. Stouts and Porters


When autumn sets in, lighter summer beers are moved aside in favor of darker and more filling options. Stouts and porters offer rich, malty notes that are often complemented by caramel, chocolate, and coffee flavors. Pair them with a hearty fall stew for a comforting seasonal treat.

Give These Porters and Stouts a Try:

  • Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Treat (Anchorage, AK) 7.8% ABV
  • Evil Twin Brewing Imperial Doughnut Break (Brooklyn, NY) 11.5% ABV
  • Stone Brewing Xocoveza (Escondido, CA) 8.1% ABV
  • Rogue Ales Chocolate Stout (Newport, OR) 5.8% ABV

7. Wet Hop Beer

Most beer is made with hops that have been harvested, dried, and shipped to the brewery for production. Beer made with wet hops is different and can truly be called seasonal because the hops must be used within 24 hours of harvesting. The result is an earthy note with a nice citrus flavor and floral aroma. Serve this style as soon as possible, as the flavors are best enjoyed fresh.

Give These Fresh Hop Beers a Try:
  • Deschutes Brewery Chasin' Freshies (Bend, OR) 6% ABV
  • Troegs Brewing Company Hop Knife Harvest IPA (Hershey, PA) 6.2% ABV
  • Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon Hop Stalker (North Olmsted, OH) 7.5% ABV
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company Born Yesterday (Petaluma, CA) 7.2% ABV

8. Big IPAs

The low ABV beers and session ales of summer are now being replaced by double, triple, and imperial IPAs with bold, hoppy flavors. These big intense beers usually have an alcohol percentage around 8% to 10%, which helps to warm up your guests on chilly, autumn evenings.

Give These Strong IPAs a Try:
  • Nepenthe Brewing Company Queen Jellyfish (Baltimore, MD) 8.5% ABV
  • Boneyard Beer Company Notorious Triple IPA (Bend, OR) 12% ABV
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company Super Cluster (Petaluma, CA) 8% ABV
  • Russian River Brewing Company Pliny the Elder (Santa Rosa, CA) 8% ABV

When you update your tap list with fall beers, consider trying some of our seasonal recommendations. Our comprehensive list has something for everyone, from the die-hard pumpkin fans to the cider lovers.

Posted in: Seasonal | Bars & Breweries | By Sabrina Bomberger
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