Skip to comments.11 Pumpkin and Fall Beers Worth a Sip This Season
Posted on 10/27/2013 1:37:20 PM PDT by nickcarraway
We did the heavy lifting for you, sampling nearly a dozen pumpkin and fall beers.
Whether in soups, lattes, candles or cookies, pumpkin is here. And before we get into Thanksgiving or Christmas, let's pause and raise a glass. Tis the season for pumpkin beer, yall.
We sampled nearly a dozen pumpkin brews and ciders to help you choose which one (or three) to bring to that fall party. (Protip: Total Wine sells them individually so you can build your own six-pack.) We sampled both pumpkin beers and fall seasonals since we know not everyone wants Jack (o'-lantern) in his or her brew.
Here's a quick glance at our favorites: Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale is a must-try for pumpkin lovers. Summit Brewing Co.s Oktoberfest is a gem among seasonal recipes. And a cider is a cider is a cider, if you catch my drift. Check out our recommendations in order from most to least enticing, as well as each beers rating from consumer review website Beer Advocate, below.
Pumpkin Patch Ale by Rogue Farms (Newport, Ore.)
Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale Sarah Flynn Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale PegNews rating: 5/5
Beer Advocate rating: 86 (very good)
If there is one pumpkin beer you invest in this season, make it Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale. The brewery, which prides itself on using homegrown and sustainable ingredients, grows the pumpkins in a patch that borders its own 42-acre hop yard about 80 miles from the brew house, according to its website. There the pumpkins are roasted and added to the mash. The result is a copper-colored beer that balances all elements. The sweet pumpkin aroma hits as you bring the glass toward your lips. A smooth wave of nutmeg and brown sugar make the first palatable impressions, followed by a tingly jolt of gingersnap and creamy pumpkin pie. Warm sensations linger in the aftertaste, too, ushering a zesty, well-carbonated finish. This beer has a medium body, so it drinks easy while maintaining full flavor. This is the only beer on our roster that fully embraced pumpkin without overdoing it. Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale sells for a steep $10 for 750 milliliters (5.6% ABV), though it is worth every penny.
Brownie points: Made with homegrown ingredients by the brewery. Check out their farms here.
Suitable for: A stick-to-your-ribs dinner with family and friends, where the seasonal scents flow freely from the kitchen. Goes well with dessert, too.
Summit Oktoberfest by Summit Brewing Co. (St. Paul, Minn.)
Summit Brewing Co. Oktoberfest Photo by Tiney Ricciardi Summit Brewing Co. Oktoberfest PegNews rating: 4.5/5
Beer Advocate rating: 82 (good)
Summits Oktoberfest is a hazy amber märzen that is as unpredictably pleasant as it is uniquely effervescent. Märzen is the German word for "March," the month in which historically it was brewed so brewers would increase stock for forthcoming Oktoberfest celebrations. Though that does not hold true today, it's still the quintessential Oktoberfest style. Summit's 6.6% ABV brew has a toasty, woody aroma that immediately conjures nostalgia for chilly autumn days spent raking leaves. Flavors range from superbly earthy with notes of caramel, roasted grains and malts, to surprisingly fresh at the finish. Every ingredient in this brew is represented equally throughout the palate. If youre not a fan of pumpkin, Summit is a well-rounded beer that drinks easy while maintaining a strong sense of the season.
Brownie points: Summit Oktoberfest is a nice change of pace among fall seasonals because it is earthy and savory.
Suitable for: Lounging on the back porch on a lazy autumn afternoon.
Séance by Magic Hat Brewing Co. (Burlington, Vt.)
Magic Hat Brewing Co. Séance Photo by Tiney Ricciardi Magic Hat Brewing Co. Séance PegNews rating: 4/5
Beer Advocate rating: 74 (okay)
The label on Magic Hats Séance is what will catch your eye first an intricate maze of eerie animals and ominous symbols. But the taste is nothing to be afraid of. Séance pours dark, yet drinks light. At 4.4% ABV, this saison balances an espresso-like bitterness with citrus notes (like grapefruit) and finishes creamy. It doesnt have much body but is very well carbonated. Séance walks a fine line between toasty, tart, refreshing and rich, making it one of the most surprising and original fall seasonals.
Brownie points: The artwork on both the label and Magic Hats website is damn cool.
Suitable for: Large groups of people at, say, a pumpkin carving or Halloween party. A crowd pleaser.
UFO Pumpkin by Harpoon Brewery (Boston, Mass.)
Harpoon Brewery UFO Pumpkin Photo by Tiney Ricciardi Harpoon Brewery UFO Pumpkin PegNews rating: 4/5
Beer Advocate rating: 81 (good)
Harpoon doesnt rely on autumn spices like cinnamon and coriander to bolster its UFO Pumpkin Ale. Instead, the beer starts with a malty foundation, which adds thickness and smoothness, before layering bright orange and pumpkin flavors. One whiff of this brew will have you won over. UFO Pumpkin is sweeter than the cloudy amber color might suggest, leading some to compare it to a hearty Hefeweizen. This unfiltered beer stands at 5.9% ABV, which is pretty high considering how easy it drinks. The medium body coats the tongue without overwhelming the senses. You could spend all night drinking UFO Pumpkin and not get sick of it.
Brownie points: UFO Pumpkin is also available in cans.
Suitable for: Any time of day or night, since its fairly sessionable.
Punkel by Lakewood Brewing Co. (Garland, Texas)
Lakewood Brewing Co. Punkel Sarah Flynn Lakewood Brewing Co. Punkel PegNews rating: 4/5
Beer Advocate rating: 84 (good)
If you're one for a good kick in the mouth, look no further than North Texas own Lakewood Brewing Co. Its recurring seasonal Punkel is a deeply robust brew, full of complex flavors and textures that will have you going back for more (its 5.8% ABV). The journey begins with an explosion of spices in the aroma, ranging from cinnamon to nutmeg and coriander. Dunkel-style beers are known for being dark, malty, rich and rounded in flavor. This particular one, brewed with pumpkin spice, is so lively it practically dances across the palate, shuffling its sweet, spicy and creamy counterparts. Those who prefer a textbook dunkel may not enjoy this beer, but if youre looking for adventure, its worth trying.
Brownie points: Great use of pumpkin spice to skirt the sweetness of pumpkin pie and fragrance of roasted pumpkin seeds.
Suitable for: A cozy night in watching horror flicks by the fire or enjoying a candlelit dinner.
Witch Hunt by Bridgeport Brewing Co. (Portland, Ore.)
Bridgeport Brewing Co. Witch Hunt Photo by Tiney Ricciardi Bridgeport Brewing Co. Witch Hunt PegNews rating: 3.5/5
Beer Advocate rating: 77 (okay)
Those with a palate for savory seasonal beers will love Bridgeports Witch Hunt. Its amber color and frothy head do nothing to warn you about the spicy nutmeg and cinnamon flavors, though one whiff off the top of your snifter will. This spiced harvest ale (also dubbed an American brown ale on Beer Advocate) is full in body with a high malt content that consumes the mouth and leaves a tingle the tongue. That may also be the dry hops, which dominate the aftertaste. Despite its full body, Witch Hunt (5.8% ABV) goes down smoothly; however, the robust flavor may deter you from drinking more than one. The beer is intriguing, but it may not be a mainstay throughout the season.
Brownie points: The flavor profile is seriously unique you may have never tasted a beer quite like this.
Suitable for: A night by the fireplace. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Satsuma Harvest Wit by Abita Brewing Co. (Abita Springs, La.)
Abita Brewing Co. Satsuma Harvest Wit Creative Commons licensed Flickr user Robert S. Donovan Abita Brewing Co. Satsuma Harvest Wit PegNews rating: 3.5/5
Beer Advocate rating: 78 (okay)
Its obvious from the first pour that Abitas Satsuma Harvest Wit was brewed with southern temperatures in mind. The golden witbier is a lighter take on fall seasonals dependent on citrus aromas and freshness. Its namesake fruit, the satsuma, is a Japanese transplant, akin to an orange, mandarin or tangerine that can withstand weather down to 20 degrees. This unfiltered beer is light and zesty, with strong notes of orange peel in both the taste and smell. Satsuma Harvest Wit may be a sessionable 5.2% ABV, but its not as sweet as youd imagine because of a subdued bitterness on the back end. If youre luring a potential craft beer convert, this a great place to start.
Brownie points: Had you ever heard of satsuma before this beer?
Suitable for: One final cookout before it gets too chilly.
GOURDzilla by Deep Ellum Brewing Co. (Dallas, Texas)
Deep Ellum Brewing Co. GOURDzilla Courtesy of DEBC Deep Ellum Brewing Co. GOURDzilla PegNews rating: 3/5
Beer Advocate rating: n/a
Deep Ellum Brewing Co. recently debuted a fall recipe developed by new head brewer Jeremy Hunt that packs a wicked punch. The rookie GOURDzilla, a 7.5% ABV caramel-colored English Strong Ale brewed with pumpkins, takes the taster through a rollercoaster of flavors. Its scent is sweet, like a mild potpourri. Notes of maple syrup hit first before the pecan wood-smoked sweet potatoes take over, intensifying by the second. The end result is a seriously smoky blend that tastes like its been barrel-aged for several months. And the brew is not short of bitterness either the aftertaste is puckering. The intensity mellows after a few sips, but the beer itself is pretty heavy. Beer connoisseurs will appreciate this one.
Brownie points: The first sip will pretty much knock your socks off, having similar effect on the mouth as a shot of tequila.
Suitable for: A cold night of camping, when you really need to warm your insides.
Pumpkin Cider by Woodchuck Hard Cider (Middlebury, Vt.)
Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider Flickr user rossgram Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider PegNews rating: 3/5
Beer Advocate rating: n/a
Part of Woodchucks private reserves series, this pumpkin cider is a rare breed, even if unsettling. It begins with a pungent, sour smell that leads its taster down a woodsy path through waves of apple and cinnamon. The pumpkin doesnt resonate until the aftertaste, which is at first is stark and stale. That could also be the alcohol coming through Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider clocks a whopping 6.9% ABV, unparalleled in todays cider market. This recipe is predictably bubbly and crisp, but maintains a heartier edge and thickness. If youre looking for a unique cider, try it. But you may want to sip another brew to offset the taste every so often.
Brownie points: Did I mention its 6.9% ABV?
Suitable for: Absorbing the sunlight on a refreshing autumn day. Tailgating, anyone?
Pumpkin Cider by Harpoon Brewery (Boston, Mass.)
Harpoon Brewery Pumpkin Cider Photo by Tiney Ricciardi Harpoon Brewery Pumpkin Cider PegNews rating: 2/5
Beer Advocate rating: n/a
Harpoons Pumpkin Cider was inspired by the literal experimentation of mixing cider with various beers at the brewery, according to the brewery's website. The optimal combination, brewers found, was mixing cider with its Winter Warmer. So after playing with similar spices, Harpoon concocted what now comes in a six-pack of bottles with a jack-o'-lantern cleverly cut out of an apple. Much to my dismay, this cider is indistinguishable from others on the market. Its pleasantly brisk with the dry bite of champagne; however, it lacks any traceable pumpkin flavor. The mild fall spices in this 4.8% ABV cider are not enough to recommend it for pumpkin fiends. Compared to the Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider, it is much lighter and more generic.
Brownie points: Very drinkable, though not incredibly unique.
Suitable for: Adding an additional shot of Jameson voila, double spiked apple cider!
Oktoberfest Wiesn by Paulaner Brauerei (Munich, Germany)
Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn Photo by Tiney Ricciardi Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn PegNews rating: 2/5
Beer Advocate rating: 86 (very good)
There is nothing inherently amiss with Paulaners Oktoberfest Wiesn its charmingly light, refreshing and everything you love about a straightforward märzen (read: quintessential Oktoberfest style). But for our purposes of comparing fall beers, it doesnt embody the season or typical flavors. The Oktoberfest Wiesn (6% ABV) is blonde in color and a good reference to where all these other funky recipes stemmed from. It relishes in simplicity and is everything reliable about a pint. Unfortunately, it doesnt have the body or the spice that conjures autumn nostalgia.
Brownie points: Wonderfully simple.
Suitable for: Summer or spring so wait until next year.
Spaten Oktoberfest. $15 a 12 at Krogs.
I have one of these for later: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/142/99
All well and good but are any of them worth running into a burning building?
Man goes back into burning home to save beer
upi ^ | Oct. 27, 2013
Ping to show later to my husband who is totally enjoying the seasons beers:)
St. Arnold Pumpkinator.
Only sold in 22oz bottles and Houston beer nerds typically buy out the entire stock the day it hits the shelf so unless it’s in your fridge, you ain’t getting none.
I’d like to try these. A friend in New Orleans had some pumpkins growing in the back yard to make pumpkin-wine with, but I had to head back north before it was ready. Never did try...
pingaling for later...
That’s a damn’ fine beer!
Pumpkin does NOT belong in beer!
No punk’in for me today, thanks.
I like pumpkin, and I love beer. Do not like the two mixed. Same goes for chocolate and beer.
Lol! Only in America!
Ichabod is really good, too bad it’s not on the list - I’d like to see what they thought of it.