You can tell when the summer is wrapping up when the nights become cooler, school buses are slowing your morning commute, and pumpkin beers are hitting the shelves of your local liquor store.
While choosing a favorite between the best pumpkin beers is not something we are ready to embark upon just yet (because they’re all good!), we are presenting you with a list of the ones we deem worthy enough to stock up on. Even better, we can brag that many of them are local to New England!
1. Southern Tier Pumking
While the flavor of “pumpkin” may not be the first to come to your mind when sipping Pumking, the spices definitely evict the taste of fall. Southern Tier describes this beer’s flavor as “malty sweetness, vanilla, clove, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, [and] pie crust.” We recommended pairing with a Thanksgiving dinner, though most of us won’t be able to wait that long.
Beer Advocate Score: 91
2. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
“A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.” This is another beer that would pair well with Thanksgiving dinner, although a sharp cheese works just as well.
Beer Advocate Score: 89
3. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
This pumpkin beer has picked up awards along the way, and we are not surprised. The flavors of “lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor” makes it an unsuspecting but worthy contender.
Beer Advocate Score: 88
4. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
New Hampshire’s own Smuttynose Brewing Company produced this pumpkin ale with the spirit of the early settlers, using a pumpkin mash to further their supply. “Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is our homage to the craft and heritage of America’s brewers.” Oh, and it tastes pretty darn good too.
Beer Advocate Score: 84
5. Wachusett Imperial Pumpkin Ale
This local brew from Westminster, MA, Wachusett’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale stands up well against these bigger brands. “A generous amount of Two Row Barley is blended with caramel malt, pumpkin, Belgian Candi Sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger then fermented with our Northwest Yeast creating a profile as unique as every pumpkin in the patch.”
Beer Advocate Score: 83
6. Harpoon UFO Pumpkin
UFO Pumpkin is an unfiltered pumpkin ale that not only contains spices, but actually retains the pumpkin flavor, a task many that others on this list were unable to achieve. “Imagine a pumpkin vine wound its way in a field of barley, and a brewer harvested it all to make a beer.” This is a true pumpkin beer, in the sense that the pumpkin flavor isn’t masked, but merely enhanced by the other spices involved.
Beer Advocate Score: 82
7. Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Brooklyn Brewery sought out the traditions of early American colonists both when designing the label and brewing the beer. It is a recommended pairing for both holiday dinners and the comfort of macaroni and cheese. “Hundreds of pounds of pumpkins are blended into the mash of each batch, creating a beer with an orange amber color, warm pumpkin aroma, biscuity malt center, and crisp finish.”
Beer Advocate Score: 80
8. Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale
Sam Adams is famous for their seasonal offerings, and their Harvest Pumpkin Ale is no exception. “Smooth, rich, & roasty with over 17 lbs. of real pumpkin & warming spices like ginger, cinnamon & nutmeg give this brew a smooth inviting character.” The flavor of the pumpkin are easily overpowered by the spices in this beer, however.
Beer Advocate Score: 80
9. Pumple Drumkin Spiced Ale
Pumple Drumkin from Cisco Brewers, hailing from the island of Nantucket “is a well-balanced take on the style: strong malt base, mild hop bitterness, moderate body.” It doesn’t have an overwhelming sense of sweetness as many of the other pumpkin beers possess.
Beer Advocate Score: 80
10. Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale
The only noted “organic” beer on this list, Vermont’s own Otter Creek Brewery has outdone itself. “Generous use of Vermont grown organic pumpkins artfully blended with four fresh organic spices craft this seasonal treat.”
Beer Advocate Score: 78
11. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale
Perhaps the most well-known of the pumpkin beers, Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is accessible to those new to beer, and Pumpkinhead is a great introduction to pumpkin beers. It is described as “a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and a subtle spiced flavor.”
Beer Advocate Score: 68
Now that you know more about some of the more popular pumpkin beers on the market today, now is the time to taste them! Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, MA always has tasting events occurring in our store, and with such a wide variety of craft beers, you’ll have plenty of time to try them all. Give us a call to find out the availability of the above beers.
What is your favorite pumpkin beer?