Home Beer We tasted, reviewed and ranked 86 pumpkin beers. You’re welcome.

We tasted, reviewed and ranked 86 pumpkin beers. You’re welcome.


Draft Magazine's top 86 pumpkin beers

There is no family of beers as broadly despised yet also as incredibly popular as the pumpkin beer; they are, you could say, the Nickelback of beer. This dichotomy has always puzzled us here at DRAFT, as we tend to think pumpkin beers deserve their place in the canon for their seasonality. Sure, you wouldn’t want to drink them all year, but you don’t have to. Like Peeps, candy corn or turkey and stuffing, they capture the flavors of a particular time of year for a few fleeting months, then they’re gone. The hostility some people have for the style seemed, to us, unwarranted.

That is, until we tasted 86 of them. And if you learn one thing from sampling nearly 100 pumpkin beers over the course of a few days, it’s this: the pumpkin haters are justified in their contempt for the style.

It’s not that they’re all terrible; truthfully, most of the examples we tasted were above average, and many were downright fantastic. But pumpkin beer’s biggest shortcoming is that there’s no guarantee of what you’re going to get. Some versions go heavy on the gourd; others bombard you with autumnal spices. Some are sweet and caramelly. Some are hoppy and bitter. Some are dark and roasty. Some are made with fruit. Some are barrel-aged. A few of them are even sour. There’s zero agreement among brewers as to what the style should look like, taste like or smell like.

So, what makes a successful pumpkin beer? The answer is obviously different for everyone. To our tasters, the best examples had a clear pumpkiny flavor; spices alone do not a pumpkin beer make. What we consider the characteristics of a good pumpkin beer are actually combinations of several qualities—gourd, spice, breadiness, roast—and the beers that fail go too heavily in one flavor direction or another. Your mileage, of course, may vary, which is why we included flavor notes for every single pumpkin beer we tasted. Maybe you’ll find a new brew to stock up on this year and look out for in 2017; us, we’re taking a break from pumpkins for the next decade or so.

All of the cans, bottles, growlers and crowlers we tasted were either shipped to us directly by the breweries that produce them or were purchased locally. The beers were separated into five categories by flavor and process: amber pumpkin ales (lagers, amber ales, IPAs, etc.), dark pumpkin ales (porters, stouts), fruited (which includes ciders and our lone mead as well as fruit additions like cranberry and peach), sour, and barrel-aged. Each beverage was blind-tasted (meaning they were prepared so the tasters had no idea who brewed them) by DRAFT’s editors, all of whom are either Certified-level BJCP judges, Certified Cicerones, or both. The beers were judged alongside others within their categories and given a ranking within those categories as well as a numerical score, which we used to determine the overall rankings. (We listed how well each beer ranked within its category as part of each beer’s summary.) On to the list!

  1. wasatch pumpkinWasatch Pumpkin
    Utah Brewers Cooperative

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 1/41
    To have a beer that’s so low in ABV (a meager 4%), so balanced and so unassuming absolutely crush every other contender shows that there truly is beauty in simplicity—especially when it comes to pumpkin beers. Its aroma melds sweet potatoes with soft and pleasant cinnamon sugar, while subtle notes of earthy blonde roast coffee (which may, in fact, be pumpkin skin) and sweet Hawaiian rolls sway at the edges. But the beer’s greatest feat is in its flavor transitions: Up-front spices—clove and cinnamon—fade into caramelized squash and baked bread, with lingering notes of cinnamon frosting and coffee ice cream. The sip finishes on the sweet side, melding smooth vanilla and coffee with hazelnut creamer and nutty cocoa nibs, all supported by just enough bready qualities to keep things very drinkable. With clear squash character, skillfully integrated spices, supportive malts and mysterious x-factor flavors, this is everything we look for in a pumpkin beer.
  2. lakefront brandy pumpkinBrandy Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Lager
    Lakefront Brewery

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 1/13
    Lakefront’s classic Pumpkin Lager was the first of its kind to hit the mainstream, and while that original beer was middle-of-the-pack for us this year, brandy barrel-aging transforms it into something superb. As with the base lager, the flavor of pumpkin is clear and sweet, with roasted, caramelized rind accenting sweet caramel and pecans, but the brandy casks splash cherry, vanilla and raisin notes amid the squash, cinnamon sugar and pumpernickel crust. Boozy but not hot, the noticeable alcohol dries out the swallow and mitigates the chewy body. It’s a very purposeful beer, like it was designed to be barrel aged. Drink it in a snifter, in front of a roaring fire.
  3. Rivertown Sour Bourbon Barrel PumpkinSour Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin
    Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 1/7
    A sour pumpkin beer is something we never even thought to ask for, but this year we saw several. This one made in Cincinnati, Ohio was by far the most successful, with a flavor close to what we’d expect if Pumking went sour. Buttery vanilla is threaded through each sip—like a dollop of Cool Whip atop a slice of pie—while earthy, vegetal squash melds with oak and a green apple acidity. Notes of brown sugar and caramelized pumpkin almost replicate the well-developed caramel/vanilla character you find in good examples of Flemish ales. Match this with any squash dish, or something with pumpkin seeds—it would be an incredible pairing beer.
  4. Bottle Logic Picture If You Will Bourbon Pumpkin AlePicture If You Will…
    Bottle Logic Brewing

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 2/13
    This special stout from Anaheim, California is less like a pumpkin and more like pie. Brewed with pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove—and aged in bourbon barrels—the beer smells like a gingersnap, with a soft, savory tarragon note, tons of cinnamon and dried pumpkin crusts. In the flavor, gingerbread and pie crust meets meaty pumpkin puree before riding caramelly sweetness to a flash of dark cherry at the swallow; a touch of maple syrup is the only indication of bourbon-aging. With a chewy body and a candied ginger finish, this is one for the Thanksgiving table.
  5. Epic Imperial Pumpkin PorterImperial Pumpkin Porter
    Epic Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 1/16
    There’s more than one way to make a stellar pumpkin beer; Salt Lake City’s Epic Brewing Co. approaches it by folding pumpkin inside an already great example of a porter. Roasted malts rule the aroma and flavor, infusing each with light roast coffee, brown bread and pecans. Caramel sweetness and cocoa powder emerge as the beer warms, but it maintains the sweet, vegetal earthiness of baked pumpkins and sweet potatoes. It all culminates in a flash of dark chocolate and cinnamon at the warm, marshmallowy swallow.
  6. Almanac Pumpkin Pie de BrettavillePumpkin Pie de Brettaville
    Almanac Beer Co.

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 2/7
    Start with a funky, golden, Brettanomyces-fermented ale, add whole roasted pumpkins then age it in oak casks with whole vanilla beans, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; that’s how you make a Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville. Green oak, vanilla and eggy custard aromas swirl atop this beer, while cranberrylike acidity and brûlée-like sugars shift below. Each sip is a flavor riot, with orange zest and squash bunching up against lemon and fresh oak. Caramel and pumpkin flash before fading into brown sugar sweetness after the swallow; lemon juice acidity builds between sips. It’s tart for sure, but tempered with a rusticity and earthiness that speaks to the fall harvest.
  7. Hardywood Park Rye Whiskey Barrel PumpkinRye Whiskey Barrel Pumpkin
    Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 3/13
    At 10.5% ABV and thick as heavy cream, this big boy from Richmond, Virginia would be a chore to drink if it wasn’t also so nuanced. Sweet and spicy as a cinnamon roll inside a wet rye whiskey barrel, the beer overlaps warm cinnamon with peppercorns and clove, while pumpkin rind and innards are expertly supported by a foundation of caramel, vanilla pods and dark fruit sugars. It’s a little hot but well-constructed, finishing dry for its sugary strength and capturing all the desired qualities of pumpkin, spice and barrel.
  8. Heavy Seas The Greater PumpkinThe Great’er Pumpkin
    Heavy Seas Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 4/13
    The Great’er Pumpkin is not for people who desire pumpkin spice, Charlie Brown, but for those who want to taste bourbon and some actual pumpkin flavor. Oodles of roasted pumpkin rind can be picked up in the aroma alongside a pleasantly leathery tobacco note that seems to indicate the beer’s spent some time in the cellar. On the tongue, soft maple flavors from the bourbon accent the barrel’s earthy, tree bark qualities before a huge sugar-free pumpkin finish—it’s the most pumpkiny beer in the patch.
  9. O'Fallon Jack O' LatteJack O’ Latte
    O’Fallon Brewery

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 2/16
    While many breweries are cutting back production of their pumpkin ales or removing pumpkiny brands from their portfolios entirely, O’Fallon churned out six different gourd-based beers this year. Jack O’ Latte, a milk stout aged on coffee beans, is the Missouri-based brewery’s best. Additions of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove make the brew spicy and sweet as a snickerdoodle, while deep, earthy warmth reads as pumpkin or uncooked sweet potato. Fruity plum and raisin flavors lead to flashes of cinnamon and ginger at the swallow, with sticky dark sugar and espresso lingering on the tongue.
  10. Schlafly Pumpkin AleSchlafly Pumpkin Ale
    The Saint Louis Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 2/41
    A conspicuous roasted pumpkin note, smoothly integrated spices and a dark pumpernickel bread cushion lead us to the conclusion Midwesterners reached years ago: The brewers at Schlafly know their way around a pumpkin. Drinkers with a sweet tooth will enjoy this one for its sugary pumpkin candy and cake icing qualities; spice-lovers will appreciate the soft landing of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg; and everyone should marvel at how expertly the beer’s 8% ABV is hidden.
  11. Pumpkin Beer
    O’Fallon Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 3/41
    O’Fallon’s classic pumpkin ale blends flavors of warm baked cinnamon and apple with pumpkin puree and pumpernickel bread; everything comes together in the swallow for something not unlike a bite of slightly over-baked pumpkin pie.
  12. Pumpkin Ale
    Horseheads Brewing

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 4/41
    The appearance of buttery flavors (known by serious beer geeks as a compound called diacetyl) would normally be a serious flaw, but it works in this ale, adding depth to velvety roasted pumpkin and baked bread notes. A dusting of cinnamon sugar and clove helps meld everything together for a long, even finish.
  13. Punkuccino
    Elysian Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 3/16
    It takes good coffee to make a good coffee-pumpkin beer; Elysian drops a Stumptown coffee toddy inside this brew for inviting, acai-like bean flavors, which work perfectly with the chocolatey base beer and additions of nutmeg and cinnamon.
  14. Good Gourd Almighty
    Cigar City Brewing

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 5/13
    The bourbon-aged version of Cigar City’s Good Gourd smells like a cruise ship’s chocolate fountain and tastes like charred s’mores and dark cherries dipped in caramel, brown sugar and maple syrup. The beer’s pumpkin character is mild at best, but when you have such lovely barrel notes, who needs it?
  15. Pumpkincrusha
    Short’s Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 5/41
    A pleasant blend of spices—allspice, ginger, clove—is presented in equal strength with clean, bready malts, while shots of fresh squash are appreciable at the flavor’s front. Deftly balanced and very drinkable—you could even say it’s pumpkincrushable.
  16. Punkin Ale
    Dogfish Head Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 6/41
    We’re dinging Dogfish for calling this a brown ale (you need some nutty, toasty malts notes to fit into that category) but certainly not for its pumpkin and spice flavor. Cinnamon, allspice and a tiny dollop of brown sugar settle atop soft burnt biscuits and earthy pumpkin rind with each sip; a mild hop bitterness brings balance at the close.
  17. Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale
    Stevens Point Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 7/41
    Robust sweetness, powerful spicing and a distinct apple note make this Wisconsin-brewed pumpkin ale seem closer to mulled apple cider than pumpkin beer, though a cobbler-like pastry quality provides balance. It leans sweet at the finish but doesn’t reach cloying sugar levels, with lingering baked apple, earthy cinnamon and nutmeg.
  18. Schlafly Pumpkin Stout
    The Saint Louis Brewery

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 4/16
    With a bold nutmeg-and-gingerbread nose, this beer smells like a Yankee candle and we’re into it. Each sip yields notes of raisins and milk chocolate, plus great spices: bold fresh-grated nutmeg, baked cinnamon and ginger. Bready, squishy malts make it so we can’t get the idea of Starbucks pumpkin bread out of our heads.
  19. Xibalba
    Wicked Weed Brewing

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 5/16
    Xibalba is not your average pumpkin beer—well, unless the pumpkin beers you’re into are made with cacao nibs, ancho chiles and habanero peppers. We don’t know your life. What we do know is that this beer is unlike any of the other 85 we tasted, with winter warmer-like malt sweetness balanced by nutmeg, clove, peppercorns and soft sprucelike mint. Notes of cherry, almond, cranberry and cocoa emerge as the beer warms, and the peppers lend a molé flavor and gentle heat to the whole ordeal.
  20. The Great Pumpkin
    Elysian Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 8/41
    There’s an odd “Grandma’s candy” quality to Elysian’s booziest (it’s 8.4%) pumpkin beer, a sugary orange with hints of toffee that morphs into sweet squash and pumpkin puree with each sip. Sweet pumpkin and baked cinnamon combine on the tongue for a bite of spiced pumpkin pie, while long-lingering cinnamon and allspice are just a touch overdone. It’s the grocery store-brand pumpkin pie, but it still hits all the right notes.
  21. Rum Barrel Aged Pumking
    Southern Tier Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 6/13
    We didn’t much care for this year’s Pumking, but rum-aging did wonders to improve it. Flaky, buttery pastry crust, sweet potato cobbler, butterscotch and vanilla frosting lead the nose into a melange of dark rum and lemon custard; the barrels permeate the flavor with mild, dry oakiness. The wood, spirit and base beer combine beautifully after the swallow, blending flavors of cappuccino foam, sweet whipped cream, raw vanilla beans, rum and fresh green pumpkin.
  22. Pump[KY]n
    Avery Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged): 7/13
    The KY in this beer’s name is a hint that it was aged in bourbon barrels, but you don’t need it; an aroma slammed with oaky vanilla and sweet maple makes that abundantly clear. Sips of the 15% imperial porter are surprisingly botanical, with flavors of mint, ginger, cinnamon and licorice giving the impression of a digestif. Brown sugar, graham crackers, caramelized pumpkin and vanilla rise at the swallow to balance the huge botanical notes, but the beer is still absolutely massive—drink it in one-ounce increments and share it with about a dozen people.
  23. Yunkin’ Pumpkin
    Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 9/41
    Few beers we tasted were as to-the-point as this seasonal from Philadelphia: It’s pure pumpkin puree, straight from the can to your nose and mouth. Save some baked croissant notes, there’s not much else to it, but at least you’re getting pumpkin.
  24. Pumpkin Ale
    Upslope Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 10/41
    Upslope’s addition to the pumpkin category is a decent amber ale first, pumpkin beer second. The flavor leads with caramel and toffee backed up by bread crust; a touch of fennel rises just before the swallow. Actual pumpkin character is minimal and more seedlike than fleshy, but this is still a balanced, well-made beer.
  25. Funkier Pumpkin
    Boulevard Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 3/7
    A brettanomyces-fermented version of Boulevard’s popular Funky Pumpkin, this big bottle has a sweet and spicy flavor, like chunky applesauce with cinnamon. Allspice scrapes the tongue at the swallow, piggybacking on mild, drying acidity. It captures the flavors of the season and is a drinkable sour (imagine that!).
  26. Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte
    Breckenridge Brewery

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 6/16
    The first whiff of this new nitro can removes any fears that the “latte” part of this beer’s name is simple marketing; the aroma’s packed with earthy, peppery, pistachiolike coffee beans. Subtle, vegetal pumpkin rind melds with aspects of both coffee and stout in the flavor, and the beer’s creamy body paired with a smooth, sweet finish full of coffee-derived nuttiness, makes it drink like a nitro cold brew.
  27. Jacque Au Lantern
    Evolution Craft Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 12/41
    Fermentation with Belgian yeast lends this Maryland-brewed pumpkin ale a bubblegum-and-banana aroma that overlays lighter notes of cinnamon, peppercorn, clove and grains of paradise. Its flavor, too, is like banana bread with baking spices: bread dough, dollops of caramel and a lovely, almost roasty bread finish merge with banana walnut muffins. There’s hardly any discernible pumpkin here, but it’s a very, very tasty beer.
  28. Hollow Jack
    2 Towns Ciderhouse

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 1/9
    Apples, pumpkins and sweet potatoes find their way into this cider from Oregon, but it’s the spices that you’ll notice first: allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger. These combine at the swallow to give the impression of apple pie, while clean, fruity tartness rises slowly after the swallow.
  29. Vanilla Pumpkin Ale
    O’Fallon Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 11/41
    The addition of vanilla lend this member of O’Fallon’s pumpkin fam a baked, sugary roundness that comes across like pumpkin puff pastry. Gentle allspice and sweet vanilla frosting linger after the swallow.
  30. Warlock
    Southern Tier Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 7/16
    So. Much. Vanilla. Confectionery and decadent, the aroma of this 10% imperial stout layers rich vanilla beans over baking pumpkin bread, sweet cinnamon sugar and amaretto—it’s like a pumpkin cookie with icing. The flavor leans more heavily on sharp cinnamon and loses that lovely breadiness; instead, dark raisins and scorched black coffee combine with noticeable booze for a dry, somewhat bitter finish. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the glass and you’re golden.
  31. Imperial Pumpkin Stout
    Cape Ann Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 8/16
    The velvety, soft, medium-full body is the highlight of this 11% ABV stout, but its burnt black malts, sticky cinnamon, midpalate rush of sweet overripe squash and hint of black licorice are enjoyable too.
  32. The Gourd Standard
    Flying Dog Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 13/41
    A pumpkin IPA? It works better than you’d expect. Woody, mossy hops harmonize with vegetal pumpkin rind while a caramelized sugar undercurrent carries things to a moderately bitter, gingery finish.
  33. Pie Thief
    Wren House Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 8/13
    Phoenix’s Wren House brews this 10% ABV wheatwine with roasted pumpkin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and allspice before aging it in wheat whiskey barrels for 10 months. It’s warm and fruity, with underripe peach and apricot plus sweet, dark cherries, pumpkin rind and a supportive bready character like pulled-apart croissant.
  34. Pumpkin Ale
    Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 14/41
    Though ginger and nutmeg can be picked up in the nose, the flavor of this one is all pumpkin and dry malt, like pumpkin puree spread on saltine crackers.
  35. Painted Ladies Pumpkin Spice Ale
    Tyranena Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 15/41
    Flavors of red delicious apples and dollops of caramel are illuminated by the swallow’s flash of cinnamon, with some dry bread crust lingering through the finish. A sweet, caramelly (and only slightly pumpkiny) amber ale.
  36. Jamaican Me Pumpkin
    10 Barrel Brewing

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 9/13
    Rum barrel-aging gives this 10% ale a funky cherry and wet wood character. Pumpkin rind accents a subtle cranberry tartness midpalate before a dry, warming, cinnamon finish.
  37. Pumpkick
    New Belgium Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 2/9
    Brewed with pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cranberries and lemongrass, Pumpkick is less like a pumpkin pie than the whole Thanksgiving meal. Pumpkin rind and bready malt flavors provide a base for baked cinnamon and cranberry, which combine for a soft tartness and astringency.
  38. Whole Hog Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale
    Stevens Point Brewery

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 10/13
    Flavors of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, craisin, pumpkin pie and vanilla seem baked together in this ale, giving the impression of a plate of spiced sweet potato fries with cinnamon sugar glaze. A bright, fruity, cherry-tart flash at the swallow is subtle head-nod toward the months spent in bourbon barrels.
  39. Pumpkin Ale
    Thomas Creek Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 16/41
    Dark fruits—raisin, strawberry—interlace with fennel and earthy ginger root in the nose, recalling root beer. Ginger and fennel are the leaders on the tongue, followed by allspice; fruity sweetness lifts then fades out quickly at the swallow. Some roasted squash character can be picked up occasionally, but it’s faint and buried deep.
  40. Pumpkin Patch Ale
    Rogue Ales

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 17/41
    The sip of this Oregon-brewed ale kicks off with sweet biscuity notes that shift to fennel and toasty pumpernickel midpalate. Generic squash notes can be picked up as the creamy, velvety medium body moves about, and baked, flaky pastry dough rises at the swallow.
  41. Funky Pumpkin
    Boulevard Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 4/7
    Allspice up front; lemony tartness in back. Lemon juice, orange rind and nutmeg meld in this kettle-soured beer’s flavor; a quick caramelly flash lets you know there’s pumpkin in there too.
  42. Krunkin Pumpkin
    Karbach Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 18/41
    Toasty malts make the aroma of this 8.5% ale pleasantly autumnal, like crunchy brown leaf. On the tongue, nutty barley combines with just a hint of cinnamon spice, and all that alcohol is dangerously well-hidden.
  43. Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout
    Cape Ann Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 9/16
    Though it’s difficult to pick up much pumpkin in this Massachusetts-made stout, roasty-toasty malt flavors along with gentle clove and allspice still speak to the season.
  44. Pumpkin Lager
    Lakefront Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 19/41
    A lager it may be, but this pumpkin beer is still sweeter than most we tasted, with lots of sugary apple, pear and golden raisin gaining complexity from cinnamon spice. It does have a clean, lagerlike finish, with earthy pumpkin rind and soft breadiness sticking on the sides of the tongue.
  45. Rumpkin
    Avery Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 11/13
    With its flavors of brown sugar, vanilla and molasses, dark rum would seem a perfect pairing for pumpkin—and it is in this beer, make no mistake. But what Rumpkin lacks is nuance and subtlety; it’s going to club you over the head with alcohol (it’s 18% ABV) and flavors of sweet pumpkin purée, clove and cinnamon.
  46. Bourbon Barrel Aged Harvest Time
    Big Boss Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 12/13
    Time spent in bourbon barrels hasn’t seemed to dull this beer’s spicing: sweet fennel, peppercorn, anise, ginger and craisin aromas give the impression of amaro. While pumpkin is apparent in the flavor, it seems dried-out, a pumpkin left out in the Arizona heat.
  47. Pumpkin Crop Lager
    Jack’s Abby Brewing

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 20/41
    Jack’s Abby is all about lagers; the brewery’s pumpkin lager is all about balance. Smooth baked cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice arrive on the tongue just as baked bread loaf and roasted pumpkin guts land with equal force, and the sip closes with lagerlike snap.
  48. Sam Adams 20 Pounds of Pumpkin
    Boston Beer Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 21/41
    Boston Beer has produced several pumpkin ales under the Sam Adams brand in years past, but this year cut back to go all-in on this one. As the name would indicate, close to 20 pounds of gourd went into each barrel of beer, but actual pumpkin flavor is surprisingly low. Instead, the sip is packed with pleasant malt flavors like raisin, caramel, biscuits and a touch of pumpernickel crust.
  49. The Great Pumpcan
    MadTree Brewing

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 22/41
    At 7.9% ABV, The Great Pumpcan is among the boozier pumpkin beers we tasted, but its strength is hidden well behind flavors of caramel, raisin and dark bread crust. It leans a little sweet at the finish, with syrupy sugars sticking to the tongue, but the soft, roasted pumpkin note that can be picked up post-swallow is captivating.
  50. Bourbon Barrel Aged Smashed Pumpkin
    Shipyard Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Barrel-Aged Pumpkins): 13/13
    A huge amber honey aroma made us think mead when we first whiffed this 11.4% ABV brew; sugary red apples at the finish had us changing our minds to cider. Needless to say the brew’s a bit confusing, but flavors of sweet clove, cinnamon, peppercorn, roasted pumpkin and bourbon are enjoyable no matter what you call it.
  51. Dark O’ The Moon
    Elysian Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 10/16
    The spice blend on Elysian’s pumpkin stout isn’t terribly complex, but the one spice it has—cinnamon—is clear and pleasant, combining with fruity and roasty malt flavors to give the impression of toasted cinnamon raisin bread.
  52. Magna Cucurbita
    Mike Hess Brewing

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 11/16
    Green ginger root, coriander, a dusting of cinnamon and a layer of cola lend the aroma of this 7.6% stout some intrigue, while the flavor’s all about big, bitter roast. Allspice and coriander spicing is a little heavy for our palates, but a smooth vanilla note at the finish does temper them slightly.
  53. Pompoen
    Wicked Weed Brewing

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 5/7
    Wicked Weed’s second entry on this list is even more odd than the first: It’s brewed with whole roasted pumpkin and charred ginger, then aged in Honduran rum barrels. The process gives it a flavor like tannic Pinot noir, packed with jammy strawberry, red grape and rich, buttery oak. Gentle green apple and berry acidity dries out the mouth with each sip.
  54. Spooky Tooth
    Fat Head’s Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 23/41
    Toffee, cinnamon and raisins hint at this brew’s candied nature, but each sugary sip confirms it. Sweet cherry and squishy bread dough are overpowered by sticky caramelized sugar and sharp clove; pumpkin is occasionally perceptible as the thick, viscous body rolls across the tongue.
  55. King Don’s
    Catawba Brewing

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 24/41
    Spices rule this beer’s aroma, almost Christmasy in their construction and strength: huge cinnamon and nutmeg, with mulled wine warmth. The flavor is similar, with cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice dusting generic red apple sweetness. If you’re a fan of mulled cider, this is your go-to pumpkin beer.
  56. Pumpkin Pie Porter
    Deep River Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 12/16
    The stoutlike aroma is reminiscent of a near-burnt snickerdoodle or pumpkin pie crust with hazelnut latte nuttiness. Cinnamon reaches the tongue first, combining with pumpkin latte flavor and deeply toasted almonds before the roasty finish.
  57. Pumpkin Ale
    Rivertown Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 25/41
    The quiet nose on this beer is nonetheless pleasant, with low levels of cinnamon brown sugar and roasting pumpkin, like a dessert still in the oven; lightly roasted pumpkin rind and cinnamon flavors end in a dry, clovelike finish.
  58. Old Jail Pumpkin Peach Brown Ale
    Old Bust Head Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 3/9
    Baked pumpkin and crumbly peach cobbler lend a pumpkin-loaf aroma to this burgundy-colored beer; flavor is bitter and dry, with acrid, torched malts tempered by midpalate bread crust flavors.
  59. Cranberry Pumpkinfest
    Terrapin Beer Co.

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 4/9
    Cinnamon, clove, earthy pumpkin and cranberry sauce rise off the ruddy, cranberry-colored pour; cranberry juice is the dominate flavor through the sip, with a hint of cinnamon stick flavor before the very tart finish.
  60. Pumpkin Lager
    Hi-Wire Brewing

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 26/41
    Bready sweetness and a soft pecan aroma dance with sweet squash in the nose; the same caramel, pecan and pastry doughs greet the tongue before a sweet finish that lacks in pumpkin flavor.
  61. Pumpkin Roll Ale
    Pennsylvania Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 27/41
    Bright cinnamon sticks and allspice are a pleasing aspect of the otherwise slightly musty aroma; those same spices are very intense and botanical on the sip, with hardly any malt base to carry them.
  62. Pumpkin Hunter
    Devils Backbone Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 28/41
    A pleasing, bready malt quality defines the nose, weaving caramel through as well; red vine sweetness snaps the tongue to attention before a lift of bread crust rises midsip before an even, balanced finish.
  63. De Ogen
    Ten Ninety Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 29/41
    A gently Belgian aroma of raisin, clove and peppercorns wafts off the beer, with a similar dubbellike quality to the sip. Peppercorns and clove lead the sip, segueing to sugary raisins and some dry bread.
  64. Wasatch Black O’Lantern
    Utah Brewers Collective

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 13/16
    Raisin, clove and allspice help soften anise, molasses and sambuca liqueur aromas; the spicing is likewise heavy on the sip, ending with taffylike, gumball sweetness.
  65. Funk’n Patch
    Uinta Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 6/7
    Smooth oak, rustic apple and pear skin mingle with light barnyard funk in the nose; soft caramel, mild pumpkin and red apple lead the sip before some apple cider vinegar tartness arrives and builds toward the swallow.
  66. Imperial Pumpkin
    O’Fallon Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 30/41
    Soft squash and fennel are fall aromas for sure, but aren’t terribly spot-on for a pumpkin beer; on the sip, though, caramel, dry pumpernickel and pumpkin spice flavors are more in line with the style.
  67. UFO Pumpkin
    Harpoon Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 31/41
    There’s a German hefeweizen character to both the aroma and flavor of this unfiltered pumpkin beer, imparting banana, white peppercorn and clove to a barely-there pumpkin ale base.
  68. Farmhouse Pumpkin
    Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 32/41
    Aromas of clove, banana and peppercorns reveal the Belgian yeast used to ferment this ale, and while its sugary pear syrup and soft bready flavors are pleasant, it’s more recognizable as a Belgian golden ale than a pumpkin beer.
  69. Night Owl
    Elysian Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 33/41
    Low, sweet baked pumpkin adds an earthy depth to the root beer, ginger root and sarsaparilla aromas; bread crust and plenty of bitter botanicals (licorice, ginger root, clove) are unexpected, but perhaps pleasant for root beer fans.
  70. Country Pumpkin
    Superstition Meadery

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 5/9
    The aroma of this electric yellow, nearly still mead emits clover honey with a hint of acetone; that honey leads the sip, followed by warm cinnamon and caramelized squash that slide into a boozy-hot finish.
  71. Hipp-O-Lantern
    River Horse Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 34/41
    Cherry, caramel and buttery baked biscuits swirl in the nose; the honey pastry and butter roll flavors pave the way for subtle pumpkin seed flavors before a dry finish.
  72. Pumpkin Ale
    Smuttynose Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 35/41
    Coriander, cinnamon and candied ginger mingle with earthy, fresh pumpkin rind in the nose; the sip introduces some big caramel sweetness and pastrylike breadiness that’s nearly overwhelmed by harsh levels of spices.
  73. Apple Cinnamon Pumpkin Beer
    O’Fallon Brewery
    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 6/9
    Smell this beer blindly and you’d swear you’re sniffing applesauce and Red Delicious peels dusted with cinnamon and mixed with pumpkin innards; the flavor is more bitter, like the waxy skin of an apple. Combined with the hefty cinnamon stick flavor, it’s drying.
  74. Good Gourd
    Cigar City Brewing

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 36/41
    Dark cherry, vanilla and a deep alcohol like brandy tickle the nose; those elements combine to become a slightly medicinal trio on the tongue, but pleasant toffee, caramel and nutmeg help counter the sweetness.
  75. Pumpkin Spice
    Seattle Cider Co.

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 7/9
    Earthy pumpkin arrives as first sniff, but a swirl brings out a distracting note of tape or adhesive. That same note obscures an otherwise pleasant semisweet apple flavor kicked up by a dose of warm ginger toward the swallow.
  76. Peach Pumpkin Beer
    O’Fallon Brewery

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 8/9
    Like peach ring candy, the nose is dominated by sugary peach with hardly any discernible pumpkin rind. The flavor is heavy on the same sweet peach, with a dry floral close to the sip.
  77. Pumpkin Cider
    Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling

    Category Rank (Fruit-flavored Pumpkin Ales): 9/9
    Sweet apple pie and cinnamon cobbler waft off the pour; the cloyingly sweet sip begins with caramel and candy-coated apples before a flash of tart pink apple flesh arrives before the marshmallowy finish.
  78. Isle of Magourdo
    Due South Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 37/41
    Like opening a spice cabinet, this beer’s lemon peel, nutmeg and ginger aroma hits all at once. The superdry sip opens with lemon verbena that gradually becomes dried ginger and peppercorn.
  79. Pumpkin Porter
    Four Peaks Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 14/16
    Brown sugar, bubblegum and raisin swirl in the nose to create a candy- or Dr. Pepper-like impression; on the tongue, that candy impression only deepens as molasses, dark cola and sweet ginger overwhelm a thin base.
  80. Imperial Pumpkin Smash
    Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 15/16
    A candlelike melange of marshmallow, marzipan, brown sugar and cinnamon buns portends the heavy-handed sip, which blends some pleasant cocoa notes with harsher dry cinnamon and noticeable alcohol heat.
  81. Pumpkinhead
    Shipyard Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 38/41
    There’s a pleasantly warm clove, cinnamon and apple-like triad to the beer’s aroma, but a thin, dull and dry cinnamon character and light butteriness trip up the sip.
  82. Post Road Pumpkin Ale
    Brooklyn Brewery

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 39/41
    White peppercorn and a harsh minerality smother generically bready base malt aromas; the same distracting minerals obscure the sip that’s dominated by coriander and cracked pepper.
  83. Pumking
    Southern Tier Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 40/41
    This polarizingly dessertlike beer emits clouds of vanilla and sweet croissant; heavy-handed vanilla and allspice taste astringent on the tongue and combine with some hop bitterness for a bracing swallow.
  84. Samhain
    DESTIHL Brewery

    Category Rank (Dark Pumpkin Ales): 16/16
    There are promising notes of brown sugar, spice and clove in the aroma, but an acrid, ashy bitterness blankets those quieter spices on the tongue, as does a stemmy, fresh-chopped pumpkin flavor that comes off a bit vegetal.
  85. Punk’in Drublic
    Coronado Brewing Co.

    Category Rank (Amber Pumpkin Ales): 41/41
    Puzzling cherry blossoms, caramelized sugar and lavender aromas waft off the pour; on the tongue, sugary-sweet cherry leads into bread crust and herbal lavender flavors.
  86. Wild Sour Series: Pumpkin Flanders
    DESTIHL Brewery

    Category Rank (Pumpkin Sours): 7/7
    Intense balsamic and steak sauce aromas take over the aroma; on the sip, gripping acidity shakes the tongue before eventually giving way to a strange roasted vegetable quality at the swallow.


Zach Fowle is DRAFT's beer editor. Reach him at zach@draftmag.com.


Brewery Travels: My Favorite Brewery/Beer from Each State

In my ongoing quest to visit breweries all across this great land, I have now surpassed the 400 mark, and they’ve been spread across 37 states and 175+ cities. To celebrate this landmark, I’ve put together a ‘Special Edition’ of Brewery Travels: A rundown of my favorites in each of the states visited so far.

CATEGORIES: Beer   Feature   Midwest Breweries   Midwest Feature   Northeast Breweries   South Breweries   Travel   West Breweries  


Why a Miller Lite Was the Best Beer I’ve Ever Had

I’ve worked in craft beer for nearly five years now. I’ve had the fortune to try some truly amazing brews: Pliny the Elder, Heady Topper, Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout. Supplication? I’ve got one in my mini-fridge. The reason I’m telling you this is because I want to frame my statements here properly. I’ve had good beer, trust me. The best beer I’ve ever had, though, was a Miller Lite.

CATEGORIES: Beer   MIDWEST   Midwest Feature  

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