‘Tis the Season for Pumpkin Beer

Fall is here, and along with it comes the arrival of pumpkin beer–one of my favorite things about my favorite season. I’m not much of a drinker, but there’s something so iconically autumnal about pumpkin beer that I find it hard to resist. What can I say? I’m a sucker for all things autumn.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine and I decided to do a little bit of a pumpkin beer taste test. It was pretty informal and not at all comprehensive; we tested three or four beers, and sadly I can’t remember which ones they were or which ones we liked best. For that reason (and because I love pumpkin beer), I thought it might be a good idea to repeat that tasting experiment, and so this past weekend we headed out to his local beer vendor and stocked up on some pumpkin brews.

We bought (one bottle of each):

Of those seven, we tried three (between the two of us– we split each bottle). The rest are going to have to wait for my next visit to Philadelphia (where my friend lives) since by the time I got through half of my third glass, I was beginning to fall asleep. The thing is, I’m hoping that our second round of tasting ends up being significantly better than our first. While the taste test we did a couple years ago was pretty successful, our results this time around left a lot to be desired.

Up first: the pumpkin cider. I picked this one out primarily out of curiosity. I like ciders in general, but I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from a pumpkin cider. As it turns out, it’s good! Typical cider color and effervescence, with a complex series of flavors. I like for my pumpkin brews to taste like pumpkin pie, and although this one was on the sweet side, it did have that all spice hint that I really like. My friend Mike and I agreed that this was a good choice. I’d definitely drink it again, and I recommend picking it up if you see it around.

Second: the pumpkin lager. Because I was trained to like beer by a beer snob (see above), I tend to gravitate to ales more often than lagers. But from what I can tell, pumpkin lagers are not all that common so it seemed like this one was worth checking out. My verdict on this one is a pretty solid meh. I could take it or leave it, really. It wasn’t unpleasant in any way, but it definitely didn’t have that pumpkin pie taste that I’d been craving. Maybe my indifference toward it comes from my lack of familiarity with lagers. I don’t think I would bother getting this again.

Third: the Southampton. The label advertised a pumpkin taste with vanilla extract. Personally, I didn’t find it to have much of a pumpkin taste at all. Mike remarked that the vanilla seemed a lot stronger than the pumpkin, and I also didn’t taste much vanilla. Maybe that says something about how prominent the pumpkin was. Neither one of us finished our half-glass of this one; not only was it not a tasty pumpkin beer, I’d say it wasn’t much of a tasty beer at all. I’m sure it will come as no surprise when I say I wouldn’t recommend this one.

With the exception of the cider, this was a somewhat disappointing bunch! I’m still getting teased about picking out a Blue Moon brew, so I’m hoping that during the next round of tasting, that one will blow the rest of them out of the water with its awesome bouquet of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and hint of vanilla. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Have your pumpkin beer experiences this fall been more successful than mine? If you’ve found a winner, share it in the comments!

By Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at

9 replies on “‘Tis the Season for Pumpkin Beer”

Oh my gosh, you MUST try the Pumpking.  It is pumpkin pie in a glass (with beer) straight up.  I’m pretty anti-hops when it comes to beer (IPAs are the devil) so I end up drinking this only a glass or two at a time (not that it’s particularly hoppy, I just REALLY don’t like that hops flavor) but it is still the best pumpkin beer I have ever had.

With that said, if you do the next round of tasting and you think one of them is BETTER than Pumpking, please post about it ASAP because I definitely want to try that beer before it is out of season.

Ooh, I love pumpkin and beer, thus I definitely have Feelings about pumpkin beer!

I haven’t had any of the ones you listed though – I dislike Blue Moon (not for any beer snobby reasons, I just tend to be a stout/porter kind of girl) and I hadn’t heard of the others, though I’ll keep an eye out for them. My favorite by far is Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale; it tastes the most like pumpkin pie and is really tasty (though I’m bummed because I haven’t seen it anywhere yet this year!). I’ve also had Post Road Pumpkin Ale, which was pretty good, and Saranac Pumpkin Ale and Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, which were not good at all, in my opinion.

Yay for Feelings about pumpkin beer! I know the Post Road was among the ones we tasted a few years ago, and I remember not liking it all that much. I’m wondering if maybe the Dogfish Head was our favorite that time? Oddly, when we did our shopping this time, we didn’t see any of the ones we’d gotten in previous years. I’m not sure what that’s all about. But it’s interesting to hear that you’ve had trouble finding the Dogfish Head. We’ll have to let each other know if we find any :)

I usually lurk, but I am coming out of hiding to second the love of Dogfish Head Punkin. My fridge currently is stock full of a bottle of every type of pumpkin beer that my local beer store offers. It’s my fave time of the year.

Fegley’s Brewworks’ Devious Imperial Pumpkin is also delicious (but strong at 9%).

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