15 Weird Pumpkin Beers That Don’t Taste Like You’re Drinking a Pie
Pumpkin beer gets a bad rap. Breweries like New Belgium, Avery and Wicked Weed are out to fix that.
We can’t blame you for being a little sick of pumpkin beer. It’s a style that’s increasingly plagued by seasonal creep with every passing year — seriously, who’s craving pumpkin and all-spice when it’s 90 degrees and humid in August? And while there are plenty of delicious pumpkin beers that’ll conjure images of crunchy leaves, crisp air or Michael Myers lurking menacingly behind the bushes, there are also a lot that are downright gross. (Looking at you, Southern Tier Pumpking.)
Even some of our favorite pumpkin beers — classics like Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale, New Holland’s Ichabod, and Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale — can start to feel a little too familiar after a while. But pumpkin beers don’t always have to taste like liquid pumpkin pie. For this list, we’re celebrating the pumpkin beers that aren’t afraid to get a little weird, whether they’re utilizing chili peppers or marshmallow or an absolutely spooky amount of booze. If you’re not ready to write off pumpkin beers entirely, but you’re looking for something new, give these 15 brews a try.
You’d be surprised how many pumpkin beers allow the pumpkin to take a backseat to a cloying amount of spice, but that’s definitely not the case with Allagash’s Ghoulschip, which is brewed with fresh, locally sourced pumpkins as well as raw pumpkin seeds. After the fermentation process, it’s aged in oak barrels for up to three years; the result is a crisp pumpkin sour that is balanced nicely by hints of caramel, vanilla and molasses.
At a whopping 16.3% ABV, Rumpkin is definitely a sipper, but its rich, boozy flavor makes it the perfect treat after a night of schlepping the kids around collecting candy. It’s aged in rum barrels, and the high ABV gives it a nice warming sensation, made all the more pleasant by its blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, candied molasses and ginger.
Breckenridge Brewery Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte
Given the popularity of the pumpkin spice latte, it was inevitable that brewers would begin trotting out their own coffee-forward pumpkin concoctions. Breckenridge’s Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte is a pumpkin stout brewed with dark roasted malts and cold pressed coffee beans, and it has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel reminiscent of a latte thanks to the nitro. Neither the coffee nor the pumpkin is overpowering here, however; instead, those flavors stay subtle, highlighted by hints of vanilla, nutmeg and clove.
Elysian Dark Knife
Elysian’s Punkuccino is definitely its better-known pumpkin beer, and that’s also an incredibly tasty option, but for the purposes of this list, we have to go with the more original Dark Knife, their pumpkin schwarzbier. It’s pretty true to the style, with toasted grain flavors and pumpkin pie spices. It’s got some earthy notes to it as well, thanks to the German Northern Brewer and Saaz hops it’s brewed with, along with what the brewery describes as “90 pounds of pumpkin entrails.”
Evil Genius Trick or Treat Chocolate Pumpkin Porter
I have to admit that chocolate and pumpkin isn’t always a flavor combination I’m particularly fond of, but Evil Genius lives up to its name and manages to pull it off well here. The trick here is that the beer is much more chocolate-forward than most other pumpkin porters, perhaps because it’s added post-fermentation. But don’t worry, pumpkinheads: you’ll still get all your favorite spices here, including cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.
Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela
Pumpkin beers can often be overspiced or cloyingly sweet, which is why La Parcela, Jolly Pumpkin’s pumpkin sour, feels like a stroke of genius. It’s slightly acidic with some hints of citrus, but it’s also brewed with real pumpkin, spices and cacao nibs, giving it a fall flavor to balance it nicely. It’s the gold standard of pumpkin sours, and frankly, we’re anxious to see a few more copycats crop up to counteract all the spice-bombs that pass as pumpkin beers these days.
Odyssey Beerwerks Fluffy Pumpkin Toasted Marshmallow Porter
If the idea of slipping a chunk of pumpkin into your s’more before biting into it appeals to you, this is the beer for you. A pumpkin beer brewed with marshmallow might sound weird at first, but it’s not too far off from the flavor combination you get when you top sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Of course, there’s also hints of chocolate and graham cracker, making it perfect to nurse in front of a campfire.
Two Roads Roadsmary’s Baby
Don’t let the demon spawn from which this beer takes its name give you the wrong idea: this rum barrel-aged pumpkin ale is delightfully smooth. The rum aging adds some complexity with touches of nutty oak and spice for a twist on the typical pumpkin ale.
Spencer Brewery Monkster Mash Pumpkin Ale
As you might have guessed from the monk pun in the name, this beer is a Trappist pumpkin ale, brewed by the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey at the first Trappist-certified brewery in the United States. The result is a crisp, clean beer with hints of malty sweetness and lots of clove and cinnamon on the nose — a real graveyard smash, if you will.
New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin
If you’re looking for something with a little more heat than you’d typically find in a fall beer, Atomic Pumpkin offers a unique twist on your typical pumpkin fare, combining pumpkin juice with Saigon cinnamon and habanero, aji and del arbol peppers for a spicy kick that lingers on the finish. The cinammon and cloves are still there on the nose to remind you you’re drinking a pumpkin beer; it’s the best of both worlds.
Devils Backbone München on Pumpkin
This one’s sort of a fall beer twofer: München on Pumpkin is meant to be a hybrid of an Oktoberfest and a pumpkin beer. It’s a little difficult to pick up on the subtle difference between an ale and a lager (this one’s a pumpkin lager, to be clear) when the pumpkin spices are the most dominant flavor, but it’s still a nice blend of the two styles, worth picking up when you can’t decide which fall holiday best suits your mood.
Hopworks Great Gourds of Fire
As you might surmise from the name, Great Gourds of Fire is another pumpkin beer with a kick to it. It’s brewed with all-organic roasted pumpkins as well as ancho chilis, cinnamon, cocoa and other spices. The pumpkin flavor is subtle here, and the spice is what comes through loudest — though not to the point that it’s overwhelming. The caramel malt balances the spiciness well.
Wicked Weed Pompoen
Pompoen is a sour red ale brewed with pumpkin and aged for over a year in rum barrels, and it does not disappoint. It also features charred ginger, which gives it a little added spice and complexity, and it’s truly unlike any other pumpkin beer you’ll find at your local grocery store.
Lakefront Brewery Brandy Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Imperial Ale
The brandy Old Fashioned is more or less the state drink of Wisconsin, so it makes sense that the pumpkin beer from this Wisconsin brewery would be aged in brandy barrels. On top of that nice, warm booziness, it’s got pumpkin pie spice, caramel malt and a hint of vanilla flavor, making it a must for those crisp fall nights up north.
O’Fallon Brewery Salted Caramel Pumpkin Beer
Typically, we think of salted caramel as being its own, standalone fall flavor, but O’Fallon Brewery have doubled up on the seasonality with their Salted Caramel Pumpkin Beer. The pumpkin puree it’s brewed with cuts the sweetness of the caramel, as does the pink Himalayan sea salt, making for a nice balanced autumnal flavor profile.
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