Editors’ Pick: Pumpkin Beers | Craft Beer & Brewing

Editors’ Pick: Pumpkin Beers

Pumpkin beers can be hit-or-miss, but we’ve picked a few here that definitely deliver.

4 years ago

Editors’ Pick: Pumpkin Beers Primary Image

Nothing announces the onset of fall like the appearance of pumpkin beers on store shelves in August and September. The style can be hit-or-miss, with some pumpkin beers overdoing the spice while others leave you scratching your head wondering where the pumpkin is, but we’ve picked a few here that definitely deliver.

Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus

Itterbeek, Belgium

This spontaneously fermented effervescent lambic foregoes the typical fruit additions for a fall treat. Equal parts sweet and sour, the vinous acidity is kept in check by light malt and residual sweetness up front, but the semidry finish lends a crispness that makes you want to take another sip.

AleWerks Pumpkin Ale

Williamsburg, Virginia

Warming holiday notes of gingerbread and cinnamon with a hint of nutmeg, clove, and an aroma of pie crust layer on top of rich flavors of caramelized brown sugar and burnt marshmallows on yam casserole. The flavors are well-defined and properly executed in this fine example of the fall style.

Flying Dog The Fear Pumpkin Porter

Frederick, Maryland

Don’t fear The Fear! Curry and cardamom notes add a distinct richness to this porter, with ripe-on-the-vine pumpkin and squash, plus earthy tree-bark notes. The bitter back-end balances upfront sweetness and spice. It’s dark, rich, and an enjoyable fall sipper.


Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

St. Louis, Missouri

The nose delivers a huge dose of pumpkin pie with strong vanilla notes, then a quick taste yields a creamy mouthfeel (thanks to the dose of oats) balanced by a slightly bitter aftertaste from the spices. The first sip tells you that this is exactly what a pumpkin beer should be. Share with friends or keep it all to yourself.

Like pumpkin beers? Don’t miss Issue 8 (August/September 2015) of_ Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® _where our blind-tasting panel sampled through 43 different beers brewed with pumpkin and/or pumpkin-pie spices and Mark Pasquinelli shows you how to brew a robust pumpkin ale that brims with maltiness, packs tons of pumpkin flavor, and sports an assertive spice profile. Subscribe today!

Anderson Valley Fall Hornin'

Boonville, California

Rich aromas of curry set this pumpkin beer apart. While the flavor hints at richly baked bread with earthy pumpkin notes, it finishes slightly bitter with deeper and slightly roasty notes, avoiding the cloying overspiced flavors from which some pumpkin beers suffer.

Two Roads Brewing Roadsmary's Baby

Stratford, Connecticut

This 6.8% pumpkin ale spends months in rum barrels, adding strong vanilla notes to the expected pumpkin and spice flavors, and a bit of rum heat. It’s a rich and genuine fall favorite with clearly defined pumpkin spice that delivers, and the rum notes add depth and excitement without dominating.

Epic Brewing Fermentation Without Representation

Salt Lake City, Utah & Denver, Colorado

A collaboration with DC Brau, its strong licorice notes on the nose give way to a toasty flavor defined by strong chocolate notes. Hoppier than other pumpkin beers, it drinks more like a vanilla porter with notes of pumpkin—a good thing in our book!

21st Amendment He Said Tripel

San Francisco, California

Effervescence and Belgian-yeast notes amplify this unexpected and clever pumpkin Tripel. It drinks lighter than its 8.2% suggests, with a well-balanced spicing that doesn’t overpower. The light body and spice complement food (it’s not a dessert beer), and we’ll be sharing it with guests every chance we get.