Tis the season for sweaters and bonfires, falling leaves and falling temps, and of course, all things pumpkin. While I join in the pumpkin parade along with everyone else on Pinterest, one of my true autumnal pumpkin treats is a fresh, cold pumpkin beer (second only to a hot cup of pumpkin spice tea). Here are some of my current favorites.
Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale
One of my favorite sips from my visit to Kentucky’s Bourbon Country was Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale – beer that is brewed and left in used bourbon barrels to soak up some of the leftover flavors. The beer packs quite a punch, but is really tasty.
What could be even better? Bourbon with a splash of pumpkin, of course! The Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale hits your palate just as strong as the regular ale, but with a wonderfully rich, hearty pumpkin flavor. If you love bourbon or pumpkin, you’ll love this beer – my #1 pumpkin beer.
Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale
Smooth, almost creamy pumpkin flavor. Hints of that grapefruit and wheat flavor that you get from a traditional blue moon. Really enjoyable and not too sweet – you’re able to enjoy a couple of these after a long day without feeling over-pumpkin’ed. Oddly enough, if you’re going for a beer-and-cheese night, this is your best bet. I think this is a great pumpkin beer for wine lovers.
New Belgium Pumpkick
New Belgium is one of my favorite brewers, and their Pumpkick does not disappoint. The first sip is quite a strong affront, with a rich, dark flavor to it – think molasses (but not sweet). The flavors really settle nicely with a strong finish. If you’re not a regular beer drinker, you may find this to be a little too over-the-top for you, but if you like your beers to have a kick (get it?) this is just the thing.
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Out of all our beers, this one is probably the most accessible for the majority of readers, and Sam Adams does not disappoint – this is my favorite of their seasonals. The Octoberfest is fresh and very effervescent, with a really light and tasty pumpkin flavor that lingers on the tongue just enough. Similar to the Blue Moon, I think the Octoberfest is also a great option for pairing with food – and if someone doesn’t like beer but is hoping to get their feet wet, this is what you should get them.
Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
Normally, I’m not such a huge fan of American wheat beers – they tend to be overpowering with the hops and just hard to drink. Shock Top manages to convince me that wheat is not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not when paired with a bit o’ pumpkin to boot. The result is a fresh taste that really is bright, light, almost tangy. Although this was my least favorite out of this list, it was certainly worked hard to reach the top of the pumpkin beer priority list.
Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin
Based in Seattle, if you haven’t heard of Elysian brewery, you’re missing out – it was one of my local hangouts when I lived there. Their beers are not as widely distributed as I’d like, but I managed to snag some of their seasonal Night Owl here locally. Elysian loves the autumn season, so much so they host a pumpkin beer festival. Needless to say, their Night Owl beer is exceptional – it’s rich with spicy hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, and the pumpkin is so smoothly brewed it almost tastes like a roasted butternut squash. If you see this brew, treat yourself and grab it immediately!
Dishonorable Mention: By all means, do not buy Buffalo Bill’s “America’s Original Pumpkin Ale.”
Worst pumpkin beer I have ever had.