I wrote an article about the Pumpkin beer “controversy” last January. This is truly one of my favorite styles of beer, though I totally understand why some in the craft beer community shun it. While discussing some of the issues that fellow beer drinkers have with the style, I realized that I didn’t talk enough about my own favorite pumpkin beers….that’s what this article is for….
I’ve tried most (if not all) pumpkin beers available in Western New York. At this point, I’m hoping that somebody reading this is saying, “I bet this idiot has never tried [insert your favorite pumpkin offering here].” If it didn’t make my top 4 list and you think it should have, please let me know.
#4: Dogfish Head – “Punkin”
Just last year, this was my #2, but after extensive research (read: drinking a ton of pumpkin beer), I have found a few others that excite my taste buds even more. Punkin is a great representation of the style, as we have all come to expect from DFH. It is actually brewed with pumpkin meat (not all pumpkin beers are), nicely spiced without overdoing it, and the hint of brown sugar pushes it past much of the competition. The 7% ABV is a bit awkward for me. With all the hype around imperial beers, I’m surprised they don’t kick up the alcohol content a few notches (or just leave it at 5-6%). I’m knit-picking here, this is a very solid beer.
#3 Shipyard Brewing – “Smashed Pumpkin”
Jake wrote an article about this brew last December. Check that out if you want his review of this tasty offering. I do agree with Jake, it is more of a “beer” than “pumpkin pie in a bottle” (read: sessionable pumpkin beer!?). It all depends what you’re in the mood for. It is definitely heavy on the cinnamon, but it works for me. Nutmeg is pronounced as well. This one is an imperial, and weighs in at 9% ABV. ”Smashed Pumpkin’s” little brother, “Pumpkinhead” is quite tasty as well.
#2 – Blue Point – Pumpkin Ale
I have thoroughly enjoyed every single offering from Blue Point that I’ve had the pleasure to try. Their Blueberry Ale has been one of my favorite offerings of that style for awhile. I had never seen their Pumpkin Ale on shelves until this season. I had to try it, and it did not disappoint. It is brewed with pumpkins, and it is aggressively spiced. If you like this style with light cinnamon and nutmeg, this won’t be your favorite. Although it’s nowhere to be found on the bottle or 6 pack, this brew weighs in at 6% ABV. If you ever find yourself in the Long Island area, put the cheeseballs and fist pumps on hold for a minute and head to this quaint brewery. I tried to hit it up on a random Saturday a few summers ago, but it was closed, which I thought was wacky.
#1 – Southern Tier – Pumking
This is one of the few beers that I’ll do just about anything to get my hands in. Although, I don’t have to–I think even Rite Aid stocks it now. I want to be sick of it, I want to be able to say that it’s overrated and over-priced, but I just don’t feel that way. This beer is pumpkin pie in a bottle. The vanilla really shines through and adds to the overall flavor, something that I think is missing in other pumpkin brews. This beer has become extremely popular and you can find it on tap all over the place. I will say that the oak-aged version is not worth the $24 growler fill that most places seem to be charging. I didn’t notice much of a taste difference.
*Fun fact: Southern Tier sells “underfills” right at the brewery for $3. If you’re like me and drink 12-15(minimum) of these a season, take a trip to the brewery and save yourself a ton of money. Call first, as the underfills go very quickly. Most of the bottles are filled to just below the neck and the taste is obviously exactly the same as a normal $8.99 bottle. I’m lucky enough to work with a guy who lives 5 minutes from the brewery, and he grabbed me 12 for a small price of $40.
Did I exclude your favorite offering? Is there a pumpkin beer out there that you think I need to try? Please let me know, so I can check it out before Christmas beers and stouts dominate the shelves (not that’s there’s anything wrong with that).
If you have an amazing pumpkin homebrew recipe, I’d also love to see that!