Pumpkin spice lattes aren't the only fall beverage that people go gaga over. Pumpkin beer, sometimes called pumpkin ale, is a seasonal favorite among beer connoisseurs all over the world. Though Americans have been brewing their beer with pumpkin since the 1700s, pumpkin beer has only recently become popular thanks to the pumpkin spice craze.
But, what exactly is pumpkin beer anyway? It is typically produced by combining pumpkin (and/or squash) with malt or other grains to create a mash that is fermented. Some brewers even add pumpkin pie spice to their concoctions to create the ultimate fall beer.
You may have noticed that Oktoberfest beer and pumpkin beer are released around the same time of year. However, the two styles are quite different. While pumpkin beer is brewed with pumpkin, Oktoberfest beer is just another name for Märzen lager, which is a German-style beer that is brewed in March so it can be enjoyed during the fall. Märzens are often copper-colored with malty flavors and a balanced bitterness.
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is consistently considered to be one of the best pumpkin ales on the market. It is the perfect balance between sweet and dry and is full of pumpkin and squash flavor with a spicy finish. Fans of this ale say it tastes a lot like pumpkin pie in a bottle. Even though it is pretty high in alcohol, it is an easy and delicious drink.
Dogfish Head has built a reputation for creating off the wall concoctions that may sound strange, but are always delicious to drink. The brewery's Punkin Ale is no exception to this concept. Punkin has a very intense spiciness to it. it reminds you of your spice rack at home. The pumpkin is subtle, but the spice really rounds it off well and balances it very nicely. According to Dogfish Head, Punkin is made with "pumpkin meat, brown sugar, and spices" and has been a favorite of pumpkin beer fans ever since.
Elysian Punkuccino is truly one of a kind. This beer is a self-proclaimed "pumpkin ale with the attitude of a world-weary barista." Elysian has a whole cast of pumpkin beers that they release each year, but what makes Punkuccino so special is that a shot of coffee toddy, pumpkin, and spices are added to the mash, making it the perfect beer for pumpkin spice latte lovers.
Jolly Pumpkin got a lot of flak for being a brewery with the name "Jolly Pumpkin" and not actually having a pumpkin beer. Eventually, the brewers finally delivered with their only pumpkin beer, La Parcela, and it does not disappoint. La Parcela is a sour pumpkin ale that's "packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice and a gentle kiss of cacao to liven the soul." It is known for being more of a dry, acidic, complex, and very delicious.
Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale is a solid choice for those who are just now hopping on the pumpkin beer train. Sam Adams is available at most grocers and beer emporiums, so it's easily accessible. The balanced taste along with the subtle spice will leave you satisfied, but not overwhelmed. The pumpkin flavor is not too intense so for those who are new to pumpkin beer, this is a good brew for you. You can slowly ease your way into this new taste.
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale consistently tops the annual lists of the best pumpkin beers – and for good reason. It's hearty, spicy, caramelly, and pumpkiny. This ale is packed with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and clove, making it taste like fall in a bottle.
If you're a stout lover like me, Saint Arnold Pumpkinator is the pumpkin beer for you. Brewed with pumpkin, molasses, brown sugar and spices, this beer is meant to make you feel warm and cozy on a chilly fall day as you watch football and bake pumpkin pie. Pumpkinator won the Gold Medal for Pumpkin/Squash or Pumpkin Spice Beer at the Great American Beer Festival in 2017, so you know it's legit. To best enjoy this beer, drink it at 50ºF after a Thanksgiving meal.