Traditionally, brewers made heartier beers with extra spices and special ingredients for sustenance in the winter. Some of the autumnal beers in this year’s market stick with strict style guidelines. A few experimented wildly with spices, herbs, fruits, and quirky hop and malt combinations. We consulted Brandon Plyler, a shop manager at Charleston Beer Exchange, for help picking the ultimate Fall 2010 six pack.

Brooklyn Brewery’s annual Oktoberfest (5.5 percent a.b.v.) aims for the traditional, classic Bavarian style. Available from August through November, it’s a malty lager with medium body and faint hop bitterness — perhaps a bit lighter in alcohol and malt sweetness than its German counterpart. Purists would approve of its reddish-copper color, crystal-clear appearance, and perfect carbonation. A toasty aroma precedes a creamy caramel flavor that finishes a little dry with a hint of hop and roasted malt flavors. It’s very drinkable, quite refreshing, and versatile with seasonal dishes.

Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Co. offers a very traditional Oktoberfest-style lager of its own, simply named Festbier (5.6 percent a.b.v.). German malts (Pilsner, Munich, and Vienna varieties) and whole Bavarian hops are used to craft this handsome, amber-colored beer. It starts with an almost candy-sweet malt aroma and ends with a lingering, smooth finish. Festbier would go well with spicy grilled meats, roasted root vegetables, or sharp cheeses.

Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s maltiest offering this year is the hearty, full-bodied, copper-colored Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale (5.5 percent a.b.v.). There’s certainly nothing notably German about it, other than a mild dose of smoked malt (hinting at the Bavarian Rauchbiers). The brewery states that it “uses malt within days of roasting at the peak of its flavor to give Tumbler a gracefully smooth malt character.”

Tumbler pours with a frothy, rock head, and starts off with a pleasant aroma of smoke. The flavor is a complex blend of dark malts with piney hops emerging in the background. Try it with a peppery steak, smoked ham, or spicy shellfish.

Now in its second year of production, Georgia micro Terrapin Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinfest (6.1 percent a.b.v.) bridges the traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest style and the modern quirkiness of pumpkin beer. It’s not a huge span from the malt-accented fest-style (they use mostly German malts) to the earthy, spicy accents of the pumpkin. It’s not over the top. The spices are mild, with wisps of cinnamon and nutmeg in the aroma and flavor. Nicely balanced and not too heavy, it’s an autumn offering for those who aren’t necessarily in love with the big, wild, fruity fare. Perfect for sipping at brisk-weather cook-outs and on game days.

On the heavier side of this year’s pumpkin beers is upstate New York-based Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s massive Imperial Pumking (9 percent a.b.v.), available in 22-ounce bombers. This strong, full-bodied, orange-brown ale absolutely bursts with the aroma of pumpkin pie and banana bread, with undertones of caramel, cinnamon, and butterscotch. It’s a mouthful, with hints of oak, vanilla, and citrus in the flavor. Imperial Pumking’s practically a dessert in a glass by itself, but it would make a nice pairing with German chocolate cake, pecan pie, or a nutty pound cake.

The most festive of the bunch might be the Bruery Autumn Maple (10.5 percent a.b.v). This Belgian-style ale is a sweet, earthy, dark amber brewed with yams, cinnamon, molasses, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup. Available in a 750ml bottle, it’s as strong as wine and as sweet and bready as Sunday brunch pancakes. The woody maple aromas and flavors dominate. Strong and thick, this one’s a great sipping beer after a rich meal.

Also recommended this season: Samuel Adams’ Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest, Magic Hat’s Hex Ourtoberfest, Punkin from Dogfish Head, and Avery’s Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest.