Pumpkin beer. Most guys love it, some guys hate it, but one thing’s for certain – pumpkin beer’s popularity is on the rise. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the sales for Portland based Shipyard Brewing Co. Maine’s local brewer reached the number 15 spot on craft brewery sales volume last year thanks largely in part to their Pumpkinhead beer, a pumpkin beer that might we add, could be the overwhelming fan favorite of all seasonal brews. We are of the group of guys that love this stuff. The holidays are the best time of the year, and pumpkin flavored beer really drives home the feel of the holidays – for us at least.
We know there are many of you that share the same thought process, and with so many different craft and macro breweries pumping this stuff out these days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the “good stuff.” While we do love us some good pumpkin ale, beware that there are some bad ones out there. Brews that literally taste like a bad bottle of beer paired with an overly sweet pumpkin pie aftertaste, creating one horrific concoction – but the good ones make the search well worth it. We’ve taken on the difficult task of taste testing a handful of pumpkin beers this Halloween season, and put together a list of the best pumpkin beers on the market. Keep in mind that the list is in no particular order, and while taste is completely subjective, we tried to cover a large variety of beers to ensure that there’s something for everyone this fall season. As long as you like the thought of pumpkin beer that is.
Southern Tier Pumking
The Lakewood New York based brewery puts out one of the more popular pumpkin beers on the list, and at 8.60% ABV, you’ll be slurring words well before you finish that 6-pack. While this brew is good with Thanksgiving dinner, it also goes great with a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Brewed by the folks at Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, this brown ale has been made with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar, and several spices. It’s a bit on the stronger side at 7% ABV.
Hangar 24 Gourdgeous Pumpkin Porter
Based right here in California (Redlands to be exact), Hangar 24 is another craft brewery that we have fallen in love with. Their pumpkin porter features notes of dark chocolate, caramel, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and of course pumpkin pie. This brew comes in at 8.5% ABV.
Cambridge Great Pumpkin Ale
Easily the most sought after seasonal beer from the Boston brewery, this brew is made with organic sugar pumpkins sourced locally from The Farm School in Athol along with Wilson Farms in Lexington. The brewery also grows their own organic barely. This beer measures in at 4.4% ABV.
Flying Dog The Fear
Made by the Maryland based brewery, this dark brown brew has received quite a bit of praise from beer lovers, and it doesn’t disappoint. The Fear is brewed with local pumpkin puree along with a secret blend of spices. This one should get you drunk fast, seeing that The Fear is 9% ABV.
Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin
Before you pass judgment on this one (based on what you have heard about Shipyard’s infamous pumpkin beers), it’s worth noting that Shipyard puts out 2 different pumpkin beers, and the difference is significant. The brand puts out their “Pumpkinhead” brew (not so great) alongside their “Smashed Pumpkin” brew (very good). The Maine based brewery has really helped put pumpkin beers on the map, and have built a cult like following over the years. This particular concoction is 9% ABV.
Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
The Washington based brewery uses 150 pounds of pumpkin with each batch. Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice provide the finishing touch on this 5.9% ABV brew.
Definitely one of the best on the list, Colorado based Avery Brewing Company puts out a very strong, very tasty pumpkin beer. The brewery uses roasted pumpkins sourced from a Boulder, CO farm, and age the brew in rum barrels to add a nice touch of oak and candied molasses. Just how strong is Rumpkin you ask? Try 18.53% ABV.
Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Considered to be the absolute best pumpkin beer on the list (according to its ratings on Beer Advocate), Florida based Cigar City Brewing really hit a homerun with this world-class brew. In addition to the pumpkin flavors, this brew has also been infused with Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg. Good Gourd is fairly strong at 8.5% ABV.
Williamsburg AleWerks Pumpkin Ale
No fancy names here, just straight to the point. The Williamsburg, Virginia based brewery provides a great pumpkin beer for those of you that don’t have quite enough room for pie, but can’t escape the temptation of the taste. Comes in at 7.3% ABV.
Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale
The Wisconsin based brewery handcrafts their pumpkin beer using real pumpkins along with savory pumpkin spices, natural cinnamon and nutmeg. The strength of the beer falls right in line with most of the previously viewed beers at 7.5% ABV.
Kern River Pumpkin Ale
Another brand with no gimmicks in the title, Kern River Brewing Company is a brewer fairly local to us personally (based in Kernville, California). Their 6% ABV, orange colored beer is advertised as “no trick and all treat.”
Rogue Ales Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale
Based in Newport, Oregon, Rogue has become quite a popular name on the craft brew scene across the entire country. The brand never disappoints, and their pumpkin beer is certainly no exception. The ale is made with 13 different ingredients, and utilizes fresh pumpkins grown in a patch that border’s the brand’s 42 acre hop yard, keeping things as fresh as possible. This one is 5.6% ABV.
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Setting out on the mission to create the “King of the Pumpkins,” the Pennsylvania based brewery created a 8% ABV brew that’s a bit spicier than many of the other contenders on the list. The full-body flavored is perfect for any cool autumn night.
Alltech’s Lexington Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale
One of the lesser known pumpkin beers on the list, this one is definitely worth purchasing. This creation serves as the first ever seasonal beer produced by the Kentucky based brewery, and just became available earlier this year – so if you haven’t tried, go grab it now. This beer is aged in fresh bourbon barrels, adding nice notes of caramel and vanilla to the spicy base. This robust beer measures in at 10% ABV.
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
Staying right in line with the common 8% ABV, the Missouri based Schlafly Tap Room makes a mean pumpkin brew. This brew features a malty foundation with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit of clove as well.
Fat Head’s Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin
Another one of the lesser known pumpkin beers on the list, this 9% ABV concoction was brewed by the Ohio based folks at Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon. The deep amber colored beer smells just like pumpkin pie, and tastes like it too. The brand suggests pairing this bad boy with a plate of turkey and stuffing, making it another great choice for Thanksgiving dinner.
Hoppin Frog Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery is located in Ohio, and is well known for their secret spice recipes. Their double pumpkin ale is 8.4% ABV, and not only makes a great Thanksgiving beer, but is also paired nicely with Camembert and English Cheddar – for you cheese guys out there.
Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin
It’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the burnished orange color of this brew (along with the equally awesome artwork – although they did recently change it). Brewed by the Maryland based Heavy Seas Beer, this bourbon barrel aged pumpkin ale is dominated by British crystal malt, with hints of pumpkin and brown sugar providing the perfect seasonal touch. This one is a bit stronger than most beers on the list at 10% ABV.
Southern Tier Warlock
Brought to you by the same New Yorkers that kicked off the list with the ever popular Pumking, this pumpkin brewed stout is a bit stronger than the previous offering at 8.6% ABV, and it’s also a bit sweeter as well. After the success of Pumking, the brewery decided to introduce this creation in 2013. Dark and mysterious, this moderately carbonated brew is great with any spicy BBQ along with smoked and roasted foods.
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Unlike a lot of the other choices on this list, the pumpkin ale from the New Hampshire based brewery is not an obvious pumpkin beer – when it comes to taste at least (the packaging sort of gives it away). It’s a bit spicy, but very refreshing. This one’s easy to put down a 6-pack without feeling too buzzed thanks to 5.84% ABV.
Ithaca Country Pumpkin
Another brewery based out of New York, Ithaca Beer Company is a medium-bodied harvest ale brewed with not only pumpkin puree, but also flavorful malt, Magnum hops, and several seasonal spices to really drive home that Fall feeling. The deep golden-orange colored brew is 6.3% ABV.
Cape Ann Fisherman’s Imperial Pumpkin Stout
Created as the big brother to the Massachusetts based brewery’s original fall season beer, this pumpkin beer is one of the strongest on the list. Nearly jet black in color, this is a great choice if you don’t mind stronger stouts -11% ABV.
Midnight Sun TREAT Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter
Taking cocoa nibs and pumpkin, the Alaska based team at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. created a brew that blends chocolate with pumpkin pie, and the end result is perfection. The beer was good enough to win a gold medal at GABF in 2007, and while it was once known as Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Midnight Sun decided to rename the 7.8% ABV beer T.R.E.A.T. (The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment).
Elysian The Great Pumpkin
Not to be confused with The Greater Pumpkin from Heavy Seas, this is the second time that the Seattle based Elysian Brewing Company has made the list. While we preferred the Night Owl a bit more, you can’t go wrong with either one of these. The roasted pumpkin seeds lead to a smoky note, and an aroma that is downright mouth watering. This one is a bit stronger than the Night Owl at 8.10% ABV.
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