Now that we’ve passed the autumnal equinox and fall is officially upon us, brewers across the country will soon be flooding store shelves with an array of seasonal, pumpkin-flavored beers. In the next few weeks, they’ll be everywhere, and since every card-carrying brewery has its own take on the idea, we figured it’d be helpful to round up a few of the best ones — so you know what to keep an eye out for in the supermarket. Without further ado, here are the best pumpkin beers of 2015. Enjoy!
Cigar City Brewing Co. — Good Gourd
Bursting with real pumpkin flavor and a laundry list of autumnal spices (including Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg), Good Gourd is just about everything you could ask for in a pumpkin ale. A lot of breweries claim to have captured the essence of pumpkin pie and put it in a bottle, but none do it quite like Cigar City.
Elysian Brewing Co. – Punkuccino
Elysian is the undisputed king of pumpkin beer, and this is the latest edition to the company’s ever-expanding autumnal offering. As you’ve probably guessed from the name already, it combines all the best parts of a coffee stout with the delicious fall spices of a pumpkin beer. The resulting brew is one of the most complex and luxuriously smooth beers we’ve ever tried at just 5 percent ABV.
Southern Tier Brewing Co. – Pumking
We won’t beat around the bush here; this is probably the best pumpkin beer we’ve ever tried, although it’s worth noting that it only beats out Elysian’s pumpkin stout by a narrow margin. It pours with a light gold color and hits your nose with a mild fall spice aroma. The flavor is out of this world – plenty of pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon mingling alongside a pronounced hint of vanilla. It’s like drinking pumpkin pie, graham crackers, and whipped cream. Definitely check this one out if you get the chance
Rogue Brewing Co. – Pumpkin Patch Ale
If you’re looking for a beer that doesn’t overdo it with pumpkin flavor, look no further than Rogue. They manage to strike a delicate balance between hops, pumpkin, and spices where no one flavor comes through too strongly and overpowers the others. It’s full-bodied, but still rather light and very drinkable, so we highly recommend it.
Two Beers Brewing Co. – Pumpkin Spice Ale
Of all pumpkin beers on this list, we’ve got to say that this one is probably the closest you can get to the flavor of pumpkin pie. It pours a hazy amber orange color with a pillowy white head on top. As you’d expect from the name, it’s got a robust spice smell to it, and a taste to match. As soon as it hits your lips you’ll detect bold hints of clove, nutmeg, and allspice up front, with a bready pumpkin finish .
Redhook Brewing Co. – Out Of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter
Brewed with pumpkin puree in the mash and a smattering of autumnal spices, this porter is a must try. It comes out of the bottle a thick chestnut brown and instantly fills your nostrils with scents of molasses and cinnamon. The flavor is full-bodied and complex – lots of dark, roasty malt with hints of chocolate, coffee, maple, and a touch of black licorice on the finish.
Samuel Adams Brewing Co. – Harvest Pumpkin Ale
Sam Adams has a knack for making crisp, refreshing, well-balanced beers, and Pumpkin Harvest Ale is no exception. It’s a solid entry into the pumpkin beer category, and unlike some of the others on this list, you can find it just about anywhere in the US. The flavor is a bit more subtle and nuanced than most – it’s got all the clove, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar flavors you’d expect, but with a nice hoppy bitterness that cuts down the sweetness and makes it super drinkable
Elysian Brewing Co. – Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout
This one comes in at a very close second to Pumpking, and if your beer tastes lean more toward the darker side you might actually like this one more. Like any good stout, it pours pitch black and leaves a creamy dark beige head. Take a whiff and you’ll detect strong a strong, inviting cinnamon aroma that tips you off to the flavor. When it hits your tongue the cinnamon flavor is even more pronounced, but comes through with a luscious dark chocolate malt flavor and plenty of nutmeg, allspice, and brown sugar.
Shipyard Brewing Co. – Smashed Pumpkin
Shipyard makes a handful of different pumpkin ales, but this one is undoubtedly their best. For the most part it’s got a pretty standard pumpkin ale flavor, but we dig it for the subtle earthy notes that come through on the finish. They make you feel like you’re drinking the whole pumpkin patch, not just pumpkin pie puree with a bunch of spices.
Elysian Brewing Co. Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
Elysian makes the list yet again because Night Owl is just too good to leave out. It’s the brewery’s most popular seasonal offering, so it’s a bit easier to track down than Dark O’ The Moon. Each batch is brewed with seven and a half pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Elysian nailed the pumpkin pie flavor with this one.
Dogfish Head Brewery – Punkin Ale
Dogfish brewmaster Sam Kellegione is known for making zany new beer recipes with exotic ingredients, but for this one he kept it simple. It’s brewed with pumpkin meat, brown sugar, and a few of the staple autumnal spices, but not much else. This results in a light, crisp, and extremely drinkable ale.
Uinta Brewing Co. – Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale
If you can manage to track down a bottle of this elusive brew from Utah, buy it immediately. Pay no heed to the exorbitant price tag – it’s totally worth it. After the initial brew, Unita ages the stuff in oak barrels for a few months to give it a wonderful woody flavor. You’ll taste all kinds of stuff in this one – pumpkin, allspice, clove, and a few strong hints of orange and cherries.
Did we leave out one of your favorites? Tell us about it in the comments!