Pumpkin Beer Roundup

For most people in New England, the coming of autumn conjures mental images of changing foliage and brisk weather.  For those of us at Brewbound’s headquarters, as well as for beer enthusiasts nationwide, the change of season is significant for a different reason: the arrival of pumpkin beers. This seasonal staple has been growing in popularity for years now as an ever increasing number of craft brewers add the style to their lineups.

Why does pumpkin beer grow in stature even as many other fruit flavored offerings are dismissed and even ridiculed by craft beer enthusiasts? We decided to survey the landscape of pumpkin offerings in the hope of finding out. What we discovered was a category with such a massive range of flavors and styles that it serves as a proxy for the craft beer industry as a whole: creative, always eclectic, and usually delicious.

Below is a small sampling of the available pumpkin beers, each of which takes its core flavor in a very different direction:

Four+ Punk'n - Uinta Brewing Company Four+ Punk’n – Uinta Brewing Company

Of all the different beers we tried in the course of researching this topic, this is perhaps the most direct in its use of the fruit. The key word here is "subtle"; everything about this beer seems intended to bring out its rather delicate, fresh pumpkin flavor. The spices added here are very subdued, which makes for a refreshing, easy to drink brew.

Brewbound Rating: 3.5 stars – Read more about this beer

Dogfish Head Seasonal Punkin Ale - Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Dogfish Head Seasonal Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

By aiming for the middle ground between sweet and subdued, Dogfish Head have hit on a very agreeable balance with this brown ale. A malty, spicy flavor is followed by a smooth finish, with little alcohol note in spite of its 7% ABV.

Brewbound Rating: 4.5 stars – Read the full review

Imperial Pumking - Southern Tier Brewing Company Imperial Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Company

Boasting probably the boldest flavor and aroma in the world of pumpkin beer, Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking forces the category in a strange new direction. With its high level of sweetness, notable spices, and bready yeast, one might expect that this beer would be way over the top. Surprisingly, though, it’s beautifully balanced and the 9% ABV is hardly noticeable.

Brewbound Rating: 4.5 stars – Read the full review

Michelob Jack's Pumpkin Spice - Anheuser-Busch Michelob Jack’s Pumpkin Spice – Anheuser-Busch

One of the most commercially available pumpkin beers, Anheuser-Busch’s entry in the category is nevertheless very disappointing. Anemic flavor couples with uninspiring aroma to produce an offering that just feels half-hearted. Not recommended.

Brewbound Rating: 1.5 stars – Read more about this beer

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