Maybe you’re part of the crowd that’s cool with pumpkin beers, but you’re more impressed when you find one that puts an unexpected spin on a traditional favorite. Fall 2017 is producing some offbeat pumpkin beers that go beyond the standard pumpkin ale. Here are a few of the imaginative ones you can seek out this fall.
10. Downeast Pumpkin Blend Unfiltered
O.K., so this isn’t a beer, but it’s as thick and juicy as a New England IPA, and more balanced in flavor than three-fourths of the pumpkin beers out there in the world. Pumpkin cider is the cubic zirconia of the pumpkin beer world; only in this world, the runner-up (cider) is usually better than the real thing (beer). It’s thick as unfiltered juice, with a weight you can feel on your tongue. It’s like you took some soft ripe apple from an apple pie, layered it with cinnamon, and then made it into a hard cider. Drink while wearing flannel next to a fire.
9. Southern Tier Warlock
Warlock is prime contentment. It’s listening to the raw sounds of a street performer playing the saxophone. It’s a pumpkin beer without the cloyingly sweet flavors no one really liked in the first place. There’s a Cheerios smell as well as taste, with big bitter notes to round it out. Toasted malt plays the lead in both color of the beer and taste. I don’t know how Warlock hasn’t cast a spell and made all of Southern Tier’s other pumpkin beers disappear yet.
8. Wasatch Brewery Black O’Lantern Pumpkin Stout
Pumpkin stouts are a nice variation on the sugared-up amber ales that normally get the pumpkin treatment. But Black O’Lantern isn’t high on this list just because it’s different. The beer has a dusty dry spice feel to it with a good dose of chocolate and clove flavor. The sweetness stays with you to the end while a slight bitterness balances it out.
7. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
6. Uinta Brewing Punk’n
Smells like a freshly baked pumpkin pie, and tastes light and refreshing as an autumn breeze. It’s got a light body and just a touch of hops to give it some bitter depth. The pumpkin spices are there, but not beating your tastebuds into a pulpy pumpkin pie mess. For the pumpkin spices, you get mostly cinnamon and nutmeg with some residual feel of cinnamon afterward. It’s balanced with just enough sweetness to stay interesting.
5. Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale
Sometimes a person just wants a trip to Flavortown, and drinking a Punkuccino is like walking into a Starbucks that makes no-fault, full-flavor PSLs. It’s what a pumpkin spice latte should taste like, if pumpkin spice lattes were supposed to taste like beer. The creaminess of coffee a-top- notch coffee from Stumptown, nonetheless – with a hint of pumpkin spice. The creaminess and weight to the beer make this something to drink from morning till night.
4. Samuel Adams 20 Pounds of Pumpkin
3. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
A beer big enough that you want to keep it in check, regardless of whether or not you want to finish off a six- pack. There’s a slight menthol end to the beer from the cloves, and overall the beer is heavy on pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. The beer notes poke through the spice and alcohol. Americans like their pumpkin in pie form, where it tastes as little like actual pumpkin as possible. Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale is pumpkin pie, but in beer.
2. Upslope Pumpkin Ale
Putting this so close to the top might be cheating a little because Upslope’s Pumpkin Ale hardly tastes like pumpkin. It’s slightly bready and creamy, and extremely light on the tongue for how high the alcohol is. Not sweet at all. Not sure if it’s because of the baby bear pumpkins Upslope uses instead of regular pumpkins, or because of the lack of sugar and pumpkin spice, but whatever it is, this is a winner. It’s a pumpkin beer if you put a pair of binoculars on your taste buds and search for the spices, but it’s a good beer first, good pumpkin beer second.
1. Cigar City Brewing Good Gourd
The taste held up to expectations. It’s more of a pumpkin bread beer than a pumpkin pie beer. It’s thick with flavor and low in carbonation, with brown sugar notes only slightly hiding the alcohol beneath. Allspice shines through, as does vanilla and nutmeg. This beer is a meal unto itself, and a must-try for both true lovers of pumpkin beers and true haters.