One of the great things about Fall is the arrival of all kinds of pumpkin beers. Brewed with real pumpkin (usually) and the spices associated with pumpkin pie, these beers are best enjoyed on a chilly October or November day.
Of course, living in Pennsylvania, where it is required to purchase a case of beer at the distributor, it can be intimidating shilling out $40 for a case of pumpkin beer you’ve never tried. A few years ago, I purchased a case of Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, the first commercial pumpkin beer brewed, only to come home and find that I didn’t particularly care for it. So, in attempt to prevent you from having a similar experience, here’s a little bit of information about many of the pumpkin beers we’ve tried recently (updated for 2011!):
Bethlehem Pumpkin Ale
The Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA
This beer has plenty of pumpkin and spice flavors, but is also nicely balanced. A great entry-level pumpkin for those not as familiar with the style.
Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
A solid choice. Well-balanced and medium-bodied, this beer features some nice pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavors, but never overwhelms to the point that it doesn’t still taste like a beer.
Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Rehoboth, DE
One of my favorite pumpkin ales — enough flavor that you know it’s a pumpkin, but not overwhelming. Though I’m not a huge hops fan, I think they help keep it tasting like a beer. 7% alcohol makes this a strong but tasty choice.
Fegley’s Devious Imperial Pumpkin
The Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA
Big beer (9% abv) that certainly has a bold flavor profile, but the pumpkin is relatively balanced. I found this to be quite smooth when consumed on its own, but when I started eating the food really brought out the heat (alcohol), making it a bit much. Still, a nice beer that I’d drink again.
Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout
Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA
A love for stouts and pumpkin beers had expectations sky high for this one, but the result was somewhat disappointing. It’s not a bad beer — it just didn’t taste much like pumpkin. Actually, the ginger and cinnamon flavors, mixed with the roasted malts of the stout, made for more of a gingerbread taste than a pumpkin one. Poured jet black, but the beer was relatively light in body for a stout. Very sweet up front, with a bit of hops to balance out the finish. Overall, an interesting one to try but nothing special.
Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Light-bodied and fizzy, this is a Pumpkin Ale for light beer drinkers. Crisp up front, without much flavor, the pumpkin really doesn’t come in until the end. Slightly odd aftertaste. Refreshing (like water), but not overly memorable.
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Smuttynose Brewing Co. Portsmouth, NH
One of the hoppier pumpkin ales I’ve had – not that it is all that hoppy, but more so than others. Nice pumpkin spices, but at 6% abv, this is a weighty, sipping ale.
Southern Tier Pumking
Southern Tier Brewing Co., Lakewood, NY
A huge ale, this baby packs a 9% punch, but is one of the better tasting pumpkin brews around. It’s a sipping beer worth trying, especially if you can get it on draft.
Southampton Pumpkin Ale
Southampton Ales and Lagers, Southampton, NY
Very smooth. Great aroma of pie spice. Malty sweetness with a hint of pumpkin – not overwhelming at all. Nutmeg lingers on the finish. Excellent!
Uinta Punk’n Ale
Uinta Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, UT
Nicely balanced brew with all the markings of Pumpkin Ale. At around 4% abv, one could certainly throw back a few of these.
Wild Goose Pumpkin Patch Ale
Wild Goose Brewing Co., Frederick MD
This is a smooth, easy-drinking ale, but I hardly tasted any of the pumpkin or spices. There was perhaps a faint hint of nutmeg, but if someone handed this to me and I didn’t know what it was, I’d never have guessed pumpkin. Perhaps a good entry-level beer for those who haven’t tried pumpkin ales in the past and are wary of something overpowering.
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Weyerbacher Brewing Co., Easton, PA
This huge beer smacks you in the face with pumpkin flavor and 8% alcohol! Great flavors, but not for the faint of heart.
Wolaver’s certified organic Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale
Otter Creek Brewing Co., Middlebury, VT
Very tasty brew. Hits you with real pumpkin flavor and a load of spice, then cools it off with a bit of hoppy bitterness. Perhaps could cut back on the spice a tad, but otherwise one of the more flavorful and interesting pumpkins I’ve had. Recommended!