When it comes to seasonal beers, pumpkin ales sometimes get a bad wrap for being, well, too pumpkiny. But not all pumpkin beers are alike, and across the country, breweries have been steadily improving on the centuries-old style by experimenting with different hops, malts and, of course, ways of incorporating pumpkin into the mix. We’re still fans of Avery Brewing’s whopping 18% ABV Rumpkin, Dogfish Head’s easygoing Punkin and Elysian’s impressive lineup, but here are five of our current favorites this fall.
Ballast Point | Pumpkin Down
San Diego, CA, 5.8% ABV
A “boatload” of roasted pumpkin makes up the foundation for this autumnal Scottish Ale. It’s full-bodied and heavy on the clove and cinnamon flavors, with a nice balance of malts. The rich pumpkin pie-like flavor mellows out into a medium-bitter finish.
Boulevard Brewing Co. | Funky Pumpkin and Funkier Pumpkin
Kansas City, MO, 5.8 and 8.5%, respectively
These sour ales from Boulevard Brewing focus on bold spice and, as the names suggests, varying levels of sour funkiness. Toasty malts pair well with the warming spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice, with any actual pumpkin flavor coming more from association with pie. The lightly sour flavors of the Brettanomyces yeast balance well with this spiced seasonal, especially in the slightly sweeter Funkier Pumpkin.
New Holland Brewing | Ichabod
Holland, MI, 4.5 % ABV
A deep, malty backbone lends just enough sweetness to this nicely spiced pumpkin brew. Lingering flavors of cinnamon and apple boost the autumn vibe.
New Belgium | Pumpkick
Fort Collins, CO, 6% ABV
Amping up the Thanksgiving flavors, New Belgium added some cranberry juice to their seasonal Pumpkick. The sweet-spicy aroma leads into a brew that’s dry and tart. Traditional pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) and pumpkin juice are the predominating flavors in this lightly bitter amber, with the fruity-sour cranberry wrapping things up nicely.
Smuttynose | Pumpkin Ale
Hampton, NH, 6.1% ABV
The brewers at Smuttynose took inspiration from their suds-loving forbearers, brewers in colonial America who turned to local ingredients like squash (or, in this case, pumpkin) to extend their limited supply of imported malt. The resulting beer is nice and hoppy with a pumpkin bread-like quality on the finish. The IPA-lovers pumpkin beer.