Thirsty Thursday: 5 Fave Pumpkin Beers
Posted by Katie Ostoich on September 20, 2012 at 5:42 PM
Though I love to bring you fun cocktails each and every week, I have to admit that my heart truly belongs to wine and beer. And that’s never more true than in the fall when it’s finally cooling off enough to enjoy red wine again (yay!) and all the pumpkin beers start hitting the shelves again. Of all things pumpkin, pumpkin beers have to be my favorite. They just have a depth of flavor and spice that isn’t around any other time of year.
In the past few years, I have tried many, many different pumpkin beers – some good, some not so good. You see, there are two approaches to brewing a pumpkin beer: create a pumpkin-pie-in-a-glass, or create a beer that stands on its own, but uses some traditional flavors and spices that one finds in a pumpkin pie. Who knew? Of the two, I gravitate toward the pie-in-a-glass approach, but am always to try something new. Here are my favorites in the fall pumpkin beer lineup:
Southern Tier Pumking
Umm, let me tell you, “king” is in this beer’s name for a reason. It’s an amazing blast of pumpkin-pie-in-a–glass, with classic pumpkin spices, a huge gush of sweet vanilla and a bit of booziness on the back end. I love big beers, and trust me, with 8% alcohol, it delivers. This is the one of the first beers I think about when the weather turns cooler and the sweaters come out. It’s the adult version of getting new shoes and school supplies.
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
Ooooh, Schlafly’s pumpkin offering is oh-so-smooth. This beer has all the sweet hallmarks I look for in a pumpkin beer — the vanilla, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the clove — but there’s a grown up vibe about it. It’s a super yummy campfire-side beer!
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Oh, Punkin Ale, how much do I love you? I can’t answer that because this is my most favorite of ALL pumpkin beers. This is the first beer Dogfish Head ever offered, and it won Sam Calagione a first-place ribbon at Sussex County Delaware’s celebrated Punkin Chunkin festival. Punkin takes a very balanced approach, with lovely notes of pumpkin spice, a touch of sweetness and a rich, roasted middle to the flavor that reminds me of toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s delish. A must-have.
Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
I’m not gonna lie, I picked up this beer because it has an owl on it and I am obsessed with owls. But I was glad I did because this beer is so unique! Night Owl has a surprising amount of candied sweetness like what you’d think a Pumpkin Jolly Rancher might taste like. This sweetness gives way to light touches of pumpkin spice and an aftertaste like you just had a bite of pumpkin pie. It all works.
Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale
Sometimes, I will admit, my laziness overrides my desire for pumpkin beer and I don’t want to make a special trip to the fancy beer store to get these craft beers. Thankfully the big guys at Blue Moon (owned by Miller-Coors) made this wheaty-pumpkin ale that you can pick up at the normal grocery store. And it’s really good. It’s very drinkable (and thankfully not as high in alcohol content) and very heavy on the pumpkin pie spices like nutmeg.
You can find reviews of pretty much any pumpkin beer over at Beer Advocate or in this chart (click for full size):
Which one’s your favorite (Buffalo Bill’s, Shipyard, and Post Road’s are also popular ones I need to try this season…)?