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Pumpkin three ways


Thirsty Thursday during pumpkin week requires more than one beer. Today I’ve got three completely different riffs on the seasonal treat: An imperial pumpkin ale, a pumpkin wheat ale and a barrel-aged version with cranberry juice. Where to start?

We’ve noticed the immense outpouring of support for Southern Tier Pumking on our Facebook page, and you all are spot-on. Whereas Monday’s tasting revolved around recreating pumpkin pie in a glass, this imperial pumpkin ale (8.5% ABV) is a note-for-note liquid version of freshly baked pumpkin bread. Its toasted pumpkin aroma wonderfully augments the similar flavor, which also carries essences of cinnamon. It’s truly a superb sipping beer.

If you’re looking for something more effervescent, don’t pass up Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat. This beer’s brewed with familiar pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove, but the wheat bite and crisp carbonation keeps everything light on the tongue. It’s also a manageable 5.2% ABV, so you can knock back a few without worrying about the morning.

Finally, we’ve got the odd ball of the group, New Belgium Kick. This beer’s a three-parts-to-one blend of beer brewed with pumpkin and cranberry, and barrel-aged beer, respectively. Where it lacks in pumpkin and seasonal spice flavor, Kick more than makes up for it by balancing sugary sweetness with lactic sourness. Grape and cranberry notes flavor the sip, and last long into the tart finish.

When you’re buying pumpkin beers, what do you look for? Lagers? Ales? The avant-garde?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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One Comment

  • Jessica says:

    Found Pumking several years ago… this beer sits at the top of my list for Pumpkin beer and I live for its August release every year!

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