Each year as the weather cools down and the leaves begin to change, the yearly battle of the gourds inevitably begins. Sadly, this skirmish doesn’t involve punkin’ chunkin’, but it does involve fans of beer near and far. Lovers of the fall-centric squash embrace it in everything from beer to coffee to shampoo while their sworn enemies think the only good pumpkin is one smashed in the street.
Wherever you fall on this squash scale, pumpkin beers are a sure sign that the seasons are changing and shorter days and cooler nights are in our very near future. The use of pumpkins in beer is far from a recent occurrence, and its presence in beer recipes can be traced back to the early settlers of our United States.
While there’s far more pumpkin pie spice found in pumpkin beers today, there’s still a healthy dose of gourd in most of the better pumpkin beers around today, making them a unique drinking experience that’s typically only around for a few short months.
Whether you’re a lover of all things pumpkin or you’re new to the gourd game and you want to see what all the fuss is about, finding the right pumpkin beer can be tough to say the least. Yours truly has done the legwork and with the help of the fine folks at Vecenie Distributing, I’ve put together a list of must-try pumpkin beers to fill your fall with all things pumpkin. Check out the list below and don’t listen to the haters…pumpkin beers are not only craft beer, they’re a great way to celebrate and enjoy the changing of seasons before it gets too cold to think about it.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Fall Hornin’: With a brilliant, deep copper hue and creamy beige-colored head, our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. The pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and silky body embrace the sweet caramel flavors and tang of spices with just hint of hops that ends with a smooth, round finish. 6% ABV
Buffalo Bill’s Brewery – Pumpkin: America’s Original Pumpkin Ale was first brewed in 1985. Made with real pumpkin, it has a golden amber color, and the sweet aroma of pumpkin pie. This brew is perfect for Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Pumpkin Ale is available from August through November. 6% ABV
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Punkin’ Ale: A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. Dogfish Head brews Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with. 7% ABV
Erie Brewing Company – Johnny Rails Pumpkin: A blonde based ale gives this pumpkin beer a lighter, meltier flavor to start with. It is a fruit beer with delicious flavor, a great nose, and the perfect poise of pumpkin and spice. This flavorful brew is sure to get you in the fall spirit. 6.5% ABV
Heavy Seas Beer – Greater Pumpkin: In the most-worthy of pumpkin patches and during the silence of the midnight hour, the Greater Pumpkin rises up and pours a rich deep and orange color. Heady aromas of bourbon, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove linger over the thick white head of this giant brew. Its love at first sip as the full malt body, dominated by British crystal malt, brown sugar and pumpkin, slowly washes over your tongue. Bourbon barrel aging rounds out the flavors with notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon. 10% ABV
Lancaster Brewing Company – Baked Pumpkin: Have your pie and drink it too! Bold flavor with a deep amber color, our big Baked Pumpkin Ale is sure to remind you of Grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie. 7.3% ABV
North Country Brewing Company – Late Night Pumpkin: For the fall season, North Country brews their Late Night Pumpkin with a healthy dose of pumpkin, spice, and of course this is all done late at night, when the pumpkins taste their best. Coming in at 6.1% ABV with a gold color and a nice spiced character, Late Night Pumpkin is a canned beer you definitely need to try. Oh, and if you can find the barrel-aged version, don’t pass it up! 6.1% ABV
Smuttynose Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale: This beer is a homage to the craft and heritage of America’s brewers. Recipes calling for the use of pumpkins in beer date back to early colonial times, when brewers sought to extend their supply of costly imported malt with locally grown ingredients, such as squash and “pompions.” in that spirit, Smuttynose brews this ale with the addition of pumpkin to the mash, along with traditional spices to create a delicious American original. 6.35% ABV
Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Imperial Pumpkin: This high gravity pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! Weyerbacher added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. 8% ABV
Tröegs Independent Brewery – Master of Pumpkins: Pulling the strings of great beer and smashing some pumpkins in the process is a pretty amazing beer from The Tröegs brothers out of Hershey, PA. Master of Pumpkin is brewed with native Pennsylvania neck pumpkins that’re harvested just a few miles away from the brewery, and is combined with traditional pie spices that’s so good it’s almost blinding. 7.5% ABV
As you can see, there’s a lot more to pumpkin beers than meets the eye. From big and spicy to reasonable with a hint of spice…there’s a pumpkin beer for everyone to try this fall season. Don’t pass up your chance to try some of them today.