There’s something special about October – the leaves are changing, there’s a briskness in the air and football season is in full swing. More importantly, it’s a time for enjoying all of the beer the fall season has to offer and while pumpkin-inspired beer now hits the shelves in early August, these delicious brews are still perfectly paired with all of the Halloween activities you’re enjoying throughout the month.
In the world of brewing, pumpkin beer is still a relatively new fad, as the explosion really only occurred about a dozen years ago or so. Now, almost every brewery makes some kind of pumpkin effort – whether it’s a porter, a stout or an ale. Some are good, some are not so good. We’re here to help you find a few that are perfect with that cheesy horror film you needed an excuse to watch for the millionth time. Here are six pumpkin beers that won’t disappoint, unlike that neighbor that always gives out apples.
[Disclaimer: I haven’t tried all of these beers, some were chosen based on ratings.]
Pump[KY]n: Avery Brewing Company (CO)
This is definitely one of the hardest-hitting beers on this list. Brewed in Colorado, this bourbon barrel-aged pumpkin porter is brewed with Columbus hops and seven different types of malts – including Coffee Brown, Munich and Pumpkin – for a taste that combines craft beer with pumpkin pie and bourbon. Thanks to the Kentucky bourbon barrels it’s aged in, Pump[KY]n is a 15% ABV beer that the brewery claims adds a complexity to an already exquisite pumpkin porter. Essentially, this is a brewery taking a seasonal porter and just pumping it up a little bit. It’s available both in 12-ounce bottles and on tap.
Good Gourd: Cigar City Brewing (FL)
Another Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Good Gourd offers all of the pleasing aromas and tastes that have made pumpkin beers popular. With flavors of caramel and roasted pumpkin notes, this 8.8% ABV beer is brewed with brewed with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla, which the brewery believes helps this beer perfectly emulate a pumpkin pie – and, in the end, it’s a very well-balanced effort. But you can be the judge of all that. The Tampa-based brewery is really doing something right, however, because it’s the second-highest rated pumpkin ale on BeerAdvocate. It’s available in 12-ounce bottles and on tap.
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Punkaccino: Elysian Brewing Company (WA)
If you’re one of those people that lives for pumpkin spiced lattes this time of year, we have just the beer for you. This coffee pumpkin ale is a lot different than most of the other offerings on this list, tasting more like something Starbucks might sell during the fall months than a traditional pumpkin beer. It’s a medium-bodied, 6% ABV effort that mixes German Northern Brewer hops with several different malts, including Chocolate and Kiln-Coffee malts. According to the Seattle-based brewery, Punkuccino has the attitude of a world-weary barista, offering a shot of Stumptown coffee toddy with a shake of nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s available on tap as well as in 22-ounce bottles.
Punkin Ale: Dogfish Head Brewery (DE)
Arguably the oldest beer on this list, Dogfish Head has been doing pumpkin beer right for years, debuting even before the Delaware brewery formally existed. This brown ale features spicy flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin “meat” – as they refer to it. Punkin Ale is 7% ABV and gives you all of the flavor you love but in a slightly different take, one that is warm and easy to drink. I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve enjoyed during the month of October. It’s available on tap as well as in 12-ounce bottles.
Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Weyerbacher Brewing Company (PA)
For years, this has been one of my go-to beers during the fall. Brewed about an hour north of Philadelphia, in Easton, this 8% ABV beer appears to be your typical pumpkin ale, only they give it a healthy dose of cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a little cardamom and clove, for a distinguished, full-bodied flavor. In fact, Weyerbacher takes pride on the fact that it’s more “pumpkiny” and “carmelly” than the competitors and there’s no denying it, as Imperial Pumpkin Ale is a warm beer that offers a little more spice than normal. And it’s noticeable from the very first sip. It’s available in 12-ounce bottles and on tap.
Pumking Imperial Ale: Southern Tier Brewing Company (NY)
This is the best, bar-none, pumpkin beer out there. It was one of the first I ever tried and nothing has come close to it since. Brewed in upstate New York, this 8.6% ABV beer features two different types of hops, two different types of malts, spices and pumpkin. It’s a balanced medium-light bodied beer that’s flavorful without being overly heavy. Some people think it lacks in the pumpkin and spice department just a little – I think it’s perfect. Pumking has even spawned other variations from the brewery, like a Chai Tea Infused version. The original is available in 12-ounce bottles, 500-mL bottles or on tap.