The Great Pumpkin Beer List: The Best and Worst Pumpkin Ales

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southhampton.jpg 15. 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%!”

elysian-night-owl.jpg 14. 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.

hs-greater-pumpkin.jpg 13. 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.

OldeTownePumpkin.jpg 12. Straight to Ale Old Towne Pumpkin Ale
City: Huntsville, Ala.
ABV: 6%
Tastes like: Vegetables
Pumpkin flavor: High
Spiciness: Medium
Perfect for: People who love pumpkins but not pumpkin-spice lattes.
The verdict: So many pumpkin beers are actual fall-spice beers, but Alabama’s Straight to Ale leads with the gourd, adding a unique set of herbs to the mix. It’s more vegetable than sweet, but the combination works.

21stAmendmentHeSaidTripel.jpg 11. 21st Amendment He Said Baltic-Style Porter
City: San Francisco
ABV: 8.2%
Tastes like: A Baltic-style porter
Pumpkin flavor: Low
Spiciness: Low
Perfect for: People who don’t like pumpkin beer
The verdict: Both of 21st Amendment’s He Said collaborations with Elysian Brewing use pumpkin and fall spice as subtle instruments in a larger symphony. This is a Baltic-style porter first, a pumpkin beer second. And it happens to be a big, bold, roasty porter weighing in at 8.2% abv.

OakJackedPumpkin.jpg 10. Uinta Crooked Line Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin
City: Salt Lake City, Utah
ABV: 10.31%
Tastes like: Booze
Pumpkin flavor: Medium
Spiciness: Low
Perfect for: Someone needing a stiff drink
The verdict: With a very Halloween-y 10.31% (get it?) ABV, this oak-aged behemoth has a giant sweet malt backbone with notes of whiskey, pumpkin, vanilla and spice (in descending order).

21stAmendmentBaltic.jpg 9. 21st Amendment He Said Belgian-Style Tripel
City: San Francisco
ABV: 7.2%
Tastes like: Belgian monks prayed it into existence
Pumpkin flavor: Low
Spiciness: Low
Perfect for: Pretending your name is
The verdict: We could drink a good Belgian-style tripel in any given situation, whether we’re eating a big steak or mowing the grass. 21st Amendment and Elysian Brewing have created a delicious tripel with subtle pumpkin and terragon flavors. The secret ingredient is galangal, a ginger-like root.

rogue-pumpkin-patch.jpg 8. 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.

IMG_1386.jpg 7. 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: 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. Our winner in last year’s tasting did well once again.

sam-adams-fat-jack.jpg 6. 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.

timmermans-pumpkin.jpg 5. Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus
City: Itterbeek, Belgium
ABV: 4%
Tastes like: Veggie lambic
Pumpkin flavor: High
Spiciness: Low
Perfect for: Celebrating The King’s Feast in Belgium (Nov. 15)
The verdict: This is a lambic without the fruity sweetness. We’ll admit we didn’t appreciate the value of that in last year’s tasting, but this is a wonderfully unique take on pumpkin beer. Subtle and refreshing.

new-belgium-pumpkick.jpg 4. New Belgium Pumpkick
City: Fort Collins, Colo.
ABV: 6%
Tastes like: Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin flavor: Low
Spiciness: Low
Perfect for: A non-traditional Thanksgiving meal
The verdict: Made with cranberry juice and lemongrass in addition to the usual pumpkin and fall spices, Pumpkick has a pleasant tartness not found elsewhere on this list. It’s a more accessible version of Kick from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series.

good-gourd-cc.jpg 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.

DogfishHeadPunkin.jpg 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.

schlafly.jpg 1. 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, it’s the Paste 2014 Pumpkin Beer Champion.

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