A Guide to the Best and Worst Pumpkin Beers

Drink  |  Lists
10. Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale
City: Boston
ABV: 5.7%
Tastes like: Fall
Pumpkin flavor: Medium
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: Any day between Sept. 21 and Dec. 21.
The verdict:: They may be just a few barrels shy of mass-produced but Sam Adams often beats the craft brewers at their own game. This was one of the best balanced beers of the bunch—darker, maltier and full-bodied.

9. Southampton Pumpkin Ale
City: Southampton, N.Y.
ABV: 5.5%
Tastes like: Somebody cares
Pumpkin flavor: Medium
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: Gearing yourself up for the onslaught of Trick-or-Treaters.
The verdict:: Neither the pumpkin or spice is overpowering, but it all blends together in a way that says, “keep drinking me; I’m only 5.5%!”

8. Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
City: Seattle, Wash.
ABV: 5.9%
Tastes like: Gingerbread
Pumpkin flavor: Low
Spiciness: High
Perfect for: When you don’t want milk with your cookies
The verdict:: Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg make this a dessert of a beer while citrus hops bring it all into balance. Just a well-crafted beer.

7. Heavy Seas Greater Pumpkin
City: Baltimore, Md.
ABV: 9%
Tastes like: Your dad’s liquor cabinet
Pumpkin flavor: Low
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: Alternating with shots
The verdict:: We may not have been swayed by The Great Pumpkin, but the Greater Pumpkin just isn’t messing around. This is a boozy beer, aged in bourbon barrels, balancing the pumpkin and spice with a whiskey kick.

6. Chatoe Rogue First Growth Pumpkin Ale
City: Newport, Ore.
ABV: 5.6%
Tastes like: Fresh pumpkin rind
Pumpkin flavor: High
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: Harvest day
The verdict:: Very pumpkin-forward without the cloying sweetness that other very pumpkin-y beers have. Rogue grows its own pumpkins and the beer is surprisingly light and fresh.

5. Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin
City: Boston
ABV: 8.5%
Tastes like: An imperial stout in costume
Pumpkin flavor: Low
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: A cold fall night on the porch. Cigars optional.
The verdict:: This great, big beer is malty sweet as opposed to fruity sweet with just a hint of pumpkin and spices to qualify as a pumpkin beer. A definite outlier from the style, but so very delicious.

4. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
City: Maplewood, Mo.
ABV: 8%
Tastes like: Pumpkin beer!
Pumpkin flavor: Medium
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: Any Halloween party
The verdict:: This is center-of-the-bullseye pumpkin ale weighing in at a hefty 8%. The Missouri brewery’s secret weapon seems to be the butternut squash. So tasty and so refreshing.

3. Cigar City Good Gourd
City: Tampa, Fla.
ABV: 8.5%
Tastes like: A strong, malty beer with pumpkin and spice to match.
Pumpkin flavor: High
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: Impressing your beer-geek friends who think pumpkin beers are novelties.
The verdict:: While the beers with the most pumpkin flavor tended to turn off our panelists with a cloying sweetness, Cigar City treats the pumpkin as a vegetable, finding sweetness from the ever-present malts in beer. The result is a very pumpkin-and-spice-forward beer that doesn’t taste like candy or pumpkin pie. It tastes first and foremost like a big, complex malty beer with strong enough of a backbone to carry the pumpkin and fall spice flavors. This is pumpkin beer done right.

2. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
City: Rehoboth Beach, Del.
ABV: 7%
Tastes like: Your spice rack
Pumpkin flavor: Medium
Spiciness: High
Perfect for: A better football-watching party than your neighbors
The verdict:: The pumpkin is subtle, but Punkin still tastes like fall thanks to all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of brown sugar. It’s a well-balanced, delicious beer—just what we expect from one of our favorite American breweries.

1. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
City:Easton, Penn.
ABV: 8%
Tastes like: Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin flavor: High
Spiciness: High
Perfect for: Every day in October
The verdict:: This is what a pumpkin beer should be. It tastes unmistakably pumpkin-y while still very much tasting like beer. The label lists cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves, but no single spice throws it off balance. This is what a pumpkin beer should aspire to be.

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