Yep, it’s that time again. The air cools down from the scorch of summer, the days start to shorten, the trees explode into a luminous visual cacophony of color, the clothes get warmer, the chocolate hotter and the beers…pumpkin-er?
Now I know, many beer goers out there scoff at the various shandies (I hate them), and flavored beers. Arguably that makes sense, just keep it simple right? Of course there are many valid stances and arguments out there, but I will flat out admit it, I am a pumpkin-spice junkie! Whether it’s pumpkin cider, pumpkin wine, pumpkin spice coffee or pumpkin beer, I take stock!
But don’t get me wrong, even though I do love my pumpkin themed combustibles, they can be cheaply made, imbalanced, or just plane gross. So this season, I would like to save you the trouble of hunting for your perfect pumpkin ale, and save you some time perusing through the variable forest of pumpkin patches out there and share with you some of the best pumpkin style beers (in my opinion) that you will ever come across.
The Shed Brewery
This is a bit of a “special occasion” beer. I say this because I was able to try it at a recent local fair, The Big E in the Vermont Building, on the Avenue of States. The color reminds me of a ruby orange. What I liked about this, the sweetness was not overpowering. It was more of a semi sweet. Well balanced and the pumpkin didn’t take over, while reminding you it is a seasonal beer. I loved the roasty notes the prevailed.
This has got to be one of my go-to pumpkin beers of the season. It’s even more amazing on tap (thanks Smith’s Billiards)! If you’ve ever had a chance to try Pumking, which in itself is a marvelous treat, you will truly enjoy this delectable treat. It’s like Pumking’s beefy cousin. To me it came across creamy, sweetly spiced with a well balanced nutmeg overtone. Try not to fall in love with this dark prince.
If you like beer, and I know you do, you will probably like this one. The great part about it, the pumpkin is not overpowering. Now if you like pumpkin, then this may not be your beer, but it actually tastes like a heavier ale, with hunts of pumpkin that dance across your palate, without ruining the overall beer drinking experience. Tastes less like a gimmick ,and more like a well prepared ale to be enjoyed and shared.
The first time I had it, all I could say is “This is really good.” The second time, I was able to enjoy it a bit more. It was malty, with a bit of a peppery bite, with rich flavors and beautiful coloration.
I had a tough time between this and Pumpking, but since I already wrote about a Southern Tier beer, I’ll share the spotlight on this New England beer. I’s not as sweet and candy-like as their Pumpkinhead. It has a deeper orange color, and a more natural flavor. It was less spiced, and had a full bodied flavor. I richly enjoyed this one.
Imperial Pumpkin Smash
This beer is a great sipper. Oddly enough, I picked this up at Coastal Wine Boutique at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I found out it was semi-local, and a seasonal so I had to purchase some for me and my friends. The brew had a strong nutmeg and vanilla nose. The effervescence of the pumpkin comes across dominantly in the taste, and yet it has a bitter finish. I don’t know if it’s due to the carbonation, but there is a spiciness that engulfs the tongue. Another plus, you cannot taste the ABV.
So there you have it, my top 5 pumpkin beers. Questions, comments, suggestions? By all means send them our way, maybe I can find a replacement…or 5.