Between whey protein and Oreos, the pumpkin spice craze has reached new heights with its latest vehicle, pumpkin beer. That is, if pumpkin-style ales weren’t already over 400 years old. That’s right, despite their recent resurgence in the American beer market, pumpkins have been used in the beer brewing process as far back as 1643 when colonists discovered that their natural fermentable sugars could be used in place of malts, which were scarcely available in early America. While the use of pumpkins in beer waned through the 19th century, the recent resurgence of the style harkens back to the beers our founding fathers drank and should be considered anything but basic. Here are 8 pumpkin beers that you need to have in 2015:
Ballast Point – Pumpkin Down – San Diego, CA
Style: Scottish Ale, ABV: 5.80%
A play on their Piper Down Scottish ale, Pumpkin Down boasts Ballast Point’s signature toasted malt flavor with hints of pumpkin and spices to create a drinkable fall brew.
“The caramel and toffee maltiness of our Piper Down Scottish ale is the perfect backdrop for a boatload of roasted pumpkin. Just before bottling, we add a subtle amount of spice to complement, but not overwhelm, the earthy flavor.”
Cigar City – Good Gourd – Tampa, FL
Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 8.50%
With a pumpkin taste as high as its alcohol by volume, Cigar City’s Good Gourd delivers an ale that’s not afraid to treat the pumpkin as a vegetable and let its natural flavor shine above a bed of malts and medium spices.
“Bursting with real pumpkin flavor and yummy pumpkin spices including Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg, Good Gourd is a celebration of Fall and that spookiest of holidays, Halloween.”
Dogfish Head – Punkin Ale – Rehoboth Beach, DE
Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 7.00%
Named after the annual Punkin Chunkin pumpkin launching championship in Nassau, Delaware, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale delivers a smooth taste with a sweet brown sugar finish.
“A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.”
New Belgium – Pumpkick – Fort Collins, CO
Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 6.00%
An unusual, but satisfying take on the popular ale style, New Belgium blends cranberry juice and lemongrass with their pumpkin and spices to create a tartness not found in any other beers.
“What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. Pumpkick is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing.”
New Holland – Ichabod – Holland, MI
Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 5.50%
You’ll lose your head for this drinkable session beer. New Holland’s Ichabod brings together pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg to create pumpkin pie in a bottle.
“Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert.”
Samuel Adams – Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Boston, MA
Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 8.50%
Where similar beers often draw their sweetness from brown sugar, Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin draws its from the natural sweetness of its malt to create a hard hitting stout with a mild pumpkin taste.
“This rich and luscious brew indulges in flavor with over 28 lbs. of pumpkin per barrel, for a full bodied sweetness and deep russet color. Classic pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice ignite a warmth and spark that’s deepened by an undercurrent of roasty smoked malts.”
Schlafly – Pumpkin Ale – St. Louis, MO
Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 8.00%
Schafly combines a well balanced mix of spices with pumpkin and butternut squash to create a very drinkable ale despite its high ABV.
“Our Pumpkin Ale blends the spices of the harvest with full-bodied sweetness for a beer that tastes like pumpkin pie. Pounds of pumpkin form a malty foundation that supports the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.”
Elysian – Punkuccino – Seattle, WA
Style: Coffee Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 6.00%
Described as an alcoholic Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Elysian’s Punkuccino is a coffee infused beer mixed with spices, toffee and caramel malts, and subtle baked pumpkin.
“A pumpkin ale with the attitude of a world-weary barista, Punkuccino packs a short shot of Stumptown coffee toddy in your pint with just a shake of cinnamon and nutmeg.”