Good Gourd! The Top 10 Pumpkin Beers

Categories: Brew Review
pumpkins.jpg
via monohex on flickr

​Like Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin, we find ourselves plopped outside our local brew shops each October, anticipating the arrival of the season's bounty of pumpkin ales. The selection is vast -- this year there seem to be more gourd-based brews on shelves than ever. Some are mediocre; some are worth skipping Trick-or-Treating for. These are the ten best you'll find this year.

10. Punkin Ale
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc.

Punkin was one of the first beers Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione ever made, debuting when it took home first prize during a badass south Delaware event called Punkin Chunkin. Brewed with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and dashes of allspice, it's a tasty, approachable introduction to the style.

9. Pumpkin Porter
Four Peaks Brewing Co.

Locally brewed and universally beloved, Four Peaks' most popular seasonal signifies the arrival of fall to Arizonans every year. Pumpkin flavor is subtle in this dark brew, blending smoothly with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and crumbled chocolate.

8. La Parcela
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Funny story: For the first four years of its existence, Jolly Pumpkin didn't even brew a pumpkin beer. Brewers debuted La Parcela in 2008 to quell the flood of phone calls that rolled in each fall asking for pumpkiny brews. It's brewed pumpkin, spices and cacao, then aged in oak with JP's wild yeast, which gives the beer a subtle tartness.

Get seven more pumpkin beers after the jump.

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thefullpint.com

7. Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Uinta Brewing Co. 

Though it's fairly limited (Uinta only made about 10,000 bottles), Oak Jacked is worth seeking out. The brew's made with pumpkins and spices, then aged in oak barrels for six months, picking up subtle nuances of bourbon and toasted vanilla. Jacked also packs a 10.31 percent ABV punch -- a play on Halloween.

6. Pumking
Southern Tier Brewing Co. 

If you prefer subtlety in your pumpkin beers, Pumking ain't for you. At 8.6 percent ABV, it's an intense brew -- rich, dessert-like and packed with flavors of sauteed butter, graham crackers, maple and sweet pureed pumpkin.

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midnightsunbrewing.com

5. TREAT
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. 

Known in long form as "The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment, this imperial chocolate pumpkin porter from Alaska grabbed a gold medal during the 2007 Great American Beer Festival. With an ingredient list boasting pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, TREAT is just that.

4. Kick
New Belgium Brewing

For the newest addition to its Lips of Faith series, Colorado's New Belgium Brewing teamed up with Washingtonian pumpkin ale masters Elysian Brewing Co. Brewed with cranberries and pumpkin before it's aged on wood, Kick is a tart, oaky addition to the fall beer portfolio.

3. The Greater Pumpkin
Heavy Seas Beer

Heavy Seas brews a more pedestrian pumpkin ale called The Great Pumpkin, which is made with pumpkin and 2.5 pounds of spice per barrel. This brew is then added to used bourbon barrels, and from that patch arises The Greater Pumpkin. The mix of brew and booze gives this brew aromas and flavors of buttery maple, orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin.

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elysianbrewing.com

2. The Great Pumpkin
Elysian Brewing Co.
 
Perhaps it's a bit backward to have this one ranked above The Greater Pumpkin, but Elysian has earned it. While most breweries have one or two pumpkin beers in the portfolio, Elysian brews more than a dozen, including Dark O' the Moon, Night Owl, Mr. Yuck and Headless Horsey. The Great Pumpkin, brewed with pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds then spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, is their most lauded. The pumpkin love doesn't end there -- every year, Elysian also holds the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, a celebration of 50 different gourd grogs, some of which are even served from giant pumpkin kegs with taps hammered right in the side.

1. Wasatch Pumpkin Ale
Utah Brewers Cooperative

Brewed with barley and pure pumpkin, spiced like your favorite holiday pie and shipped from Utah, this amber-hued ale flies under the radar, yet is one of the best examples of its style around. A clean flavor of cinnamon, allspice and pumpkin rind is intensified by an aroma so full of pumpkin pie spice you'll keep checking the oven to see if one's baking. Flavorful and drinkable at 4 percent ABV, if there's any pumpkin ale stuff your Halloween candy bag with, this is it. 

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7 comments
Webleverny
Webleverny

Pumking at #6? With the high ABV this is THE pumpkin beer to have on a cool fall evening. Trust me, this is the king of all pumkin beers. Cheers!

Ahess49
Ahess49

Does anyone have a recommendation on where to find these beers? I have been searching for some of the less common one but I am at a loss.

Webcleverny
Webcleverny

Unfortunately, if I can't find it locally, I buy online :( (kills me to pay shipping on beer)

Chad Barker
Chad Barker

Wasatch's pumpkin is excellent as well

Rob Zebeck
Rob Zebeck

Pretty good list. I've still yet to have a chance  try Greater Pumpkin. But I prefer the Southern Tier Pumpking  to Great Pumpkin. I never even seen the Oak Jacked though im on the trainm that says 10.31 is pretty specific (and i think specious) claim for the abv.  

And oh to score a few bottles of Treat...sigh....Midnight Sun is so amazing...

Nice that you included Kick as well. I feel the most pumpkin in that beer is on the (awesome) label but it is  a very impressive offering from the prodigious if sometimes underwhelming output of New Belgium. The cranberry feels very seasonaly festive.

I know Shipyard is famous for making some awful pumpkin beers but i wondered if you got any of the Smashed Pumpkin this year. I passed on it but i reamin curious.

Also, Four Peaks  Pumpkin Porter was outrageous last year. I feel this year it is thinner and more carbonated and less to my liking (not that that stopped me from getting two growlers while i could). Thoughts on how it came out this year?

Ryan Canfield
Ryan Canfield

Michigan Brewing Screamin' Pumpkin Spiced Ale is missing from this list! Easily in the top five of pumpkin beers!

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