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Posted October 10, 2013 by in beer
 
 

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Everywhere! Which one should I drink?


It is that time of year again when the craft breweries start to release their pumpkin flavored beers. The be big question is to many out there, “Which ones are worth drinking?”. This question I find to be tricky because like many things, this depends on your taste. I am going to highlight  some of the better beers out there and some of the ones you should just avoid all together.

I am going to start this off with the “Do NOT waste your money” Pumpkin Beers.

1: Shock Top – Pumpkin Wheat

 

Seriously I do not know what I expected, but I did not expect something this bland. The beer barely tasted of pumpkin and honestly it could have just been my tastebuds telling me there should be some sort of pumpkin flavor. I would say if someone hands you one and you are out of beer than give it a try, otherwise do not even bother. The fact that I see people giving this 3 stars or more on Untappd makes me really question if our race will survive the next decade.

 2: Blue Moon – Harvest Pumpkin Ale

and this 2007 Ry and Luke Beer Review

also this

 

Again I did not expect much from this beer being Blue Moon. I will say it was a huge improvement over the Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat. Truthfully though, it just taste like someone mixed 1/5 a proper pumpkin beer in with a standard Blue Moon. So for this beer again I say, unless you like Blue Moon then there is no reason to waste your money.

3: Saranac – Pumpkin Ale

and this

 

I cannot say much about this that 2007 Ry cannot so sit back and enjoy the shit show.

As you can see we started doing these many years ago before the forever before times. Not much has changed with how I feel of most of these beers either.

 

Now that we have gotten the those not worthy to even carry the name “Pumpkin” out of the way, I will start to list those worth your time.

4: Buffalo Bill’s – Americas Original Pumpkin Ale

 

Granted it has been many years since I have had or seen this beer around but I recall fond memories of its flavors and trueness to the style. The boys at Beer Advocate give it a 70 or ‘Okay’ so I’ll probably say my memory of this beer is sweeter than the reality.

5: Dogfish Head – Punkin Ale

also another thought from 2007 Ry and Luke

 

I can never say a bad thing about this beer in anyway. It is what I expect from a pumpkin beer, it has the right balance of hops and bite, and it is done in true Dogfish Head fashion. Drink it up, BITCH! (sorry, watching Breaking Bad recaps) Pumpkin flavor is apparent yet slightly subtle followed with spices (I need not explain what spices would be involved) balanced well. This is still one of my TOP pumpkin beers to date with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Untappd (i’d rate it a 4.75 if they had the option).

6: Post Road – Pumpkin Ale

 

This beer almost made the “Not worth your time” list but even though it is nothing special or stellar it does, at least, have some of what you would expect  from a pumpkin flavored beer.

7: New Holland Brewing Co. – Ichabod

 

I will apologize (perhaps a bit late) for the early beer reviews. These were some of our first with Luke and I, very polite and drawn out. I will say again though that my opinion of many of these beers has not changed since. I recently had two of these on draft in the past week and I still enjoyed enjoyed it with a very similar opinion.

8: Flying Dog – The Fear (Imperial Pumpkin Ale)

 

Mine and Luke’s (yes he was with me after all these years reviewing off camera) opinion of this beer was very high at first. After several sips in though our opinion dropped slightly feeling the hop balance being off. They perhaps need to back off the hops just slightly to no compensate for the sweetness and malts. By no means are we saying this is a bad beer, just more giving a personal opinion as brewers ourselves. Pumpkin and spice flavor is very upfront but the bitter finish just was more than we felt was needed.

9: Sam Adams – Harvest Pumpkin Ale

 

Well where should I start with this one? It is a Sam Adams beer so you know that at worst it will be well balanced and drinkable. This is exactly what this beer is, well balanced and not too over the top. Luke and I both agreed that for the average craft beer drinker this would be a good start in to the pumpkin beer world. I will say that I mean no disrespect by those comments but Sam Adams 12 ounce beers tend to play it safe and not go over-the-top. There is nothing wrong with this because you end up with a very calculated and drinkable beer. Pumpkin, Spices, the real deal (aka pumpkin pie and autumn love).

10: Ithaca Beer Co. – County Pumpkin

 

Again this is another good example of what a pumpkin beer should be, real pumpkin flavor and related spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Nothing bad to say about it but nothing really notable either. If you come across this one I say give it a chance and let us know what you think.

11: Sam Adams – Fat jack (Double Pumpkin)

 

This is where Sam Adams shines in their beer making journeys, their single bottles full of 22 0z’s of goodness. From what I have read there are 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel and weighing in at 8.5 % there is nothing safe or standard about this beer! Don’t let my previous comments of Sam Adams “playing it safe” sway you because they don’t. Perhaps for the general public this is the case, pick up a 6 pack of a familiar brand and you’ll enjoy but not be put out of your comfort zone. For us Big Boys/Girls who enjoy a bit more of an adventure Sam has been putting out these 22 0z bottles to show they can keep up with the best of them. I could say this is their Harvest Pumpkin on steroids, but we don’t want the MLB or IOC (dick heads who took Lance’s Medals away, I mean seriously? Dude has one Nut, give the man a break) to go knocking on Sam Adam’s doors taking away their GABF awards.

12: Fat Head’s – Spooky Tooth (Imperial Pumpkin Ale)

 

Luke and found this to be an honest surprise of the season being both our first time having it. The beer is an imperial with a high ABV but the alcohol did not over power the flavor of the pumpkin and spices. This is a local Ohio brew so if out of state you won’t have much luck finding it sadly. One of the most well balanced pumpkins at this high of ABV we had had to date so….. yeah…. you know it is worth a go!

13: Shipyard – Smashed Pumpkin

 

At 9% this beer is bordering a barley wine in taste but by no means is said beer. This beer again was another big surprise to us this year, the pumpkin and spices are very apparent in at the front, however like others in its league it is not too sweet. We enjoyed this more at first than after a glass in but still ranking it in the higher end of the pumpkin flavored brews.

14: Southern Tier – (Imperial) Pumking

 

This beer…just…wow… It was the top of my pumpkin beer list for a few years. I have since re-evaluated my stance and now (as well as Luke) rate it a bit lower than a 5 out 5. Still a fantastic example of what you’d expect a pumpkin beer to be, it is just too damn sweet. I find I cannot drink more than maybe 10-12 oz’s of it before I am done for the night and ready to move on. I will note that maybe rated a 4.5 out 5 now it goes well in a beer float or something else as sweet as it is.

These were just a handful of the many pumpkin beers out there, all ones that are available to us in Ohio so I am sure many more that would tower above or equal those which we have drank. I think that it is obvious of a pumpkin beer to have A. Pumpkin flavor above all else and B. a bit of spice to complement that pumpkin flavor. If you find yourself drinking a pumpkin beer lacking in either you know this has been poorly done or not done with the love and/or passion a craft beer deserves. We hope this helps with your curiosity of pumpkin beers and hope you share with us ones you enjoy.

As always,

Sláinte,

Ry

PS. here is a little video to have a bit of a laugh with to get you ready for the holiday season.


ry