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Pumpkin Beer

It's that time of year again where pumpkin beer floods the shelves. Well, its actually been there for a month but I refuse to drink it before September. I never cared much for this style but I have to admit its grown on me.

I'm partial to Southern Tier Pumking and Dogfish Punkin. I've had a couple other local versions that I've enjoyed as well (Wormtown was one). Looking for some other favorites to seek out at the packy.

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  1. New Belgium's Pumpkick is worth trying

    1. Also looking forward to some answers to this....

      1. I also like Pumking and will be getting some for Halloween. Once a year is enough for me though.

        1. Packy - you must be in new england.

          Smuttynose used to be one of my favorites (elysian night owl before it went to contract too). I used to be into pumpkin beers, but haven't been too interested in the last couple of years. I tried some Smuttynose pumpkin this year though and thought it was ok - a little overspiced - I used to love this beer because it was recognizeable as a pale ale - seems they have dropped some hop character and upped the spicing a bit. Mixing it 50/50 with Ipswich Oatmeal Stout made a nice pumpkin porter with appropriate levels of spice though.

          The Globe did some hatchet piece on pumpkin ales this year and the "reviewer" thought Cambridge Brewing Great Pumpkin tasted like a Bud product. Doh!

          1. Schlafly is one of the best pumpkin ale's out there

            Pumpkick is not very good IMO for a pumpkin beer, it is fine for a spiced ale but certainly cannot drink more than one and Dogfish Punkin has little pumpkin actual flavor - I think it is very overrated

            Shipyard Smashed is ok if you cannot get Schlafly and will be getting Pumking shipped in to try this year

            Southern Tier Pumking is one of the highest rated pumpkin ale's along with Schlafly

            The Cigar City pumpkin gets a lot of love as well but not sure if they distribute out of FL

            5 Replies
            1. re: Dapuma

              Just tried a Schlafy Pumpkin. It was okay... it just had this sort of "sharp" edge to it... I presume from the significant spicing.

              Not craving it again but glad I tried it.... OTH, not craving any pumpkin beer I've tried so far... just not sure pumpkin really works with beer.

              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                If you don't like Schlafly Pumpkin beer I would have to agree that pumpkin beer is not your thing, because that stuff is near the top of most people's lists for good beers

                I thought it goes down very smoothly for an 8% beer

                Rumkin is very hard to find - I am searching it out because I love rum, and pumpkin beer - the two together (boom - mind exploding)

                1. re: Dapuma

                  Rumpkin sounds like a beer Mr Rat would love. Have to look for it.

                    1. re: JAB

                      That sounds about right.

                      I tried one last week. Did I love it? No, but it was pretty good. I certainly did not feel like I was drinking something that high in alcohol - it masks it pretty well.

              2. Type "pumpkin" into the search here for a bunch of reviews & ratings on pumpkin beers. http://www.ratebeer.com/findbeer.asp

                4 Replies
                1. re: likalaruku

                  Interesting... Here are the top pumpkin-infused beers with over 100 ratings per the ratebeer participants:
                  Midnight Sun Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/midnight... I just can't wrap my imagination around chocolate, pumpkin, and porter but many think they do a great job, would love to try it to see if they pull it off.

                  Avery Rumpkin: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/avery-ru... Spiced pumpkin beer aged in rum barrels :


                  Southern Tier Pumking: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/southern... That's got over 1500 ratings and still holding near 100%

                  Cigar City Good Gourd: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/cigar-ci... The first complementary rater starts off "I normally don't like pumpkin beers..."

                  Elysian Dark O The Moon Pumpkin Stout: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/elysian-...

                  Nogne Jolly Pumpkin: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/nogne-o-... Looks like this may be a collaboration or recipe from Stone Brewing

                  Uinta Jacked Imperial Pumpkin: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/uinta-cr...

                  I'd love to do a blind tasting of those babies!

                  1. re: TombstoneShadow

                    Rumpkin is 18% ABV.

                    Probably not that easy to find, but Almanac's Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine had an amazing pumpkin aroma, and tasted good as well.

                    The pumpkin porters and stouts really don't work for me.

                    1. re: RB Hound

                      Wow, must be like a pumpkin liqueur, right?

                    2. re: TombstoneShadow

                      I've had that midnight sun imperial chocolate pumpkin porter. It's really good.

                      The other two pumpkin beers I like are:

                      Epic's Fermentation Without Representation


                      Hangar 24's Gourdgeous

                  2. Does anyone remember one of the first pumpkin beers, brewed in Hayward California by (as I recall) Buffalo Bill's? It was in the early 1980s, and was quite radical for its time.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Tripeler

                      Bill did that one (and I think it's still made), and also Alimony Ale, "the bitterest beer in America".

                      Here's something that mentions Bill's pumpkin ale. http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/09...

                        1. re: JessKidden

                          Thank you Jess, and thanks also to Jim Dorsch. It is good to hear that Bill Owens original pumpkin ale efforts are still being recognized. These days, Bill is involved with an association for craft distillers.

                          1. re: Tripeler

                            You're welcome!

                            I've known Bill Owens for 20 years. I used to edit his magazine. Bill is always at the front end of a movement, first craft beer and now craft distilling.

                            1. re: Jim Dorsch

                              An article I wrote about beer in Japan was in the first issue of BEER The Magazine. I still have all ten issues. I've known Bill since that magazine came out, but haven't seen him in a few years.

                              1. re: Tripeler

                                I might have that issue in my files. I edited several issues of Beer, although not the first. As always, Bill was ahead of his time.

                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                  Bill Owens is certainly a character, and one of the nicest I have met.

                          2. re: JessKidden

                            Anyone know if Bill's Pumpkin Ale has 'evolved' over the years, or if it has stayed the same?

                            A few days ago I saw a bottle hanging around in the singles bin and decided to grab it for nostalgia's sake, but I haven't had a free evening yet to try it again. I'm curious to see how I'll feel about it now. It was one of the first beers I found with an enjoyable flavour (i.e., one of the first beers I tried that was not a Corona or Tsingdao or whatever), and I picked it out because anything pumpkin meant 'yummy' to me (still does a bit)---funny that I never realised it wasn't brewed with any pumpkin at all.

                            1. re: eethan

                              I'm surprised the ATF let him use the word on the label

                              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                Interestingly, the label actually says 'real pumpkin' on it, or it does now anyway. It kind of tastes like I imagine a beer with some pumpkin in it would, although never having brewed a pumpkin beer I don't know for sure what that's supposed to be.

                                1. re: eethan

                                  Pumpkin in itself has very little flavor - its a little vegetal and a little woody - roasting it may give it a little nuttiness. I think raw pumpkin lends a little dryness to a finished beer and impact by itself on flavor is very minimal.

                                  I get the feeling when people are seeking pumpkin flavor in a beer, its pumpkin pie flavor they are really looking for - which means spices. In my homebrewing experience there's a fine line between "this tastes pumpkiny" and "what spices are in here?" when it comes to spicing levels of pumpkin beers.

                          3. As luck would have it, I actually tasted a fantastic pumpkin beer on draft last night: Crown Valley Imperial Pumpkin Smash. Tasting notes are here:

                            It was so good it made the finals of an impromptu tasting of 6 beers and narrowly lost in the finals to a superb belgian ale: Gulden Draak.

                            While it finished in 2nd place, it was first place by a mile in the nose category... the scent of this stuff was amazing.

                            Interesting that Ratebeer scores it a 93 overall, but only a 41 in the category... Their ratings place it in the Imperial Stout category which is an error, IMO... should be in a special "infused beer" category. Still 93 overall gives you some idea of how consistently people like this stuff. CVIPS has a weighted average score of 3.51, in comparison to the top-rated pumpkin beer overall: Midnight Sun TREAT Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter which has an overall score of 99 and weight average of 3.91. BUT note that MSTICPP is placed correctly in the Spice/Herb/Vegetable beer category!

                            CVIPS has completely reversed my interest in pumpkin beers... will definitely seek out well-made complex ones when they are available... I did find in the final heads-up that I picked up on the disjointedness of this beer. While it has awesome parts, maybe too many parts to beat out Gulden Draak which is more singular in scent and flavor... Looking at these top pumpkins most of them have quite a whirlwind of flavors: chocolate, porter, stout, pumpkin, rum, and probably some other combos. These can make for very interesting flavors but the downside is they may never quite marry to put them completely over the top.

                            1. Finally got a chance to try Schlafly v Pumpking v O Fallon

                              No question the Schlafly is clearly superior, more depth of flavor and complex, a bit thicker than both but certainly not heavy - and more pumpkin flavor

                              Cigar City is the only pumpkin beer that has a chance at the title left

                              1. Had Timmerman's Pumpkin Lambic today. Very restrained and elegant. Excellent seasonal aperitif.

                                1. I like the Shock Top Pumpkin