There are about as many pumpkin beers as there are breweries. It seems that every year more and more breweries feature a pumpkin beer. There is no better drink on a crisp autumn day than sitting down with one of these brews. The problem becomes deciding which one to drink. Most of these beers are smooth in nature. There is usually no hop bite because the flavor is dominated with pumpkin and spices. That is why the IBUs are not listed for most of these beers. It simply means there is a small, almost nonexistent amount of hoppy bitterness.
I was able to review 6 different pumpkin beers at the same time a week ago. Remember that this review is only good on this year’s beers. Sometimes beer flavors can change, even if the recipe doesn’t change. Maybe the pumpkin was overripe, or under-ripe, maybe the cinnamon was purchased from a new vendor. So next year, different results might occur from drinking the same beers.
I only reviewed 6 so that I could be sure to taste all of the subtle flavors in each beer. If I wait even a day between beers, my memory might not be accurate. Plus, 6 beers with higher alcohol volumes in a short period of time is about all my taste buds and my body can handle before my tasting ability is impaired.
Here are the results, listed from last place to first based on my preference!
New Holland Brewing – Ichabod
IBUs unknown – 5.2% ABV
I feel like in past years this has been a very successful beer. However, this year the pumpkin flavoring was almost nonexistent. The cinnamon was extremely overpowering. It almost left a dry feeling on my tongue, as if I had eaten a teaspoon of cinnamon. I would not recommend this pumpkin beer if others were available.
Overall Rating: 5/105
Dogfish Head – Punkin’ Ale
28 IBUs – 7.0% ABV
Again, this is another beer that has been one of my favorites in the past. I enjoy most Dogfish beers, however, this year’s Punkin’ Ale was simply average. None of the flavors stood out. There was a balance, but it was so subtle that you had to strain to taste the flavors. The pumpkin and cinnamon were nicely balanced, making for a smooth beer, but was flavorless compared to some of the other beers I reviewed. There was an alcohol taste at the end. I would try other pumpkin beers if they are available.
Overall Rating: 6/106
Weyerbacher – Imperial Pumpkin Ale
IBUs unknown – 8.0% ABV
While I already reviewed this beer and gave it an outstanding review, I must confess that this beer did not live up to my expectations. My only thought is that this attempt was bottled and my previous review was from a tap. None of the pumpkin pie tastes were revealed. It was the darkest of the pumpkin ales I sampled and smelled like pumpkins and cinnamon. There was less vanilla in the bottle than the draft version and the spices overtook the pumpkin. It almost resembled a nutmeg/clove beer instead of a pumpkin beer. However, as this beer warmed, the pumpkin flavoring did come out more. If you are going to have this beer, find it on draft. It will be worth the search.
Overall Rating: 8/108
Cigar City Brewing – Good Gourd
IBUs unknown – 8.5% ABV
Good Gourd this is a great pumpkin beer. It smelled like pumpkin and spices and tasted like heaven. The spices used in the brewing of this beer were so unique. The cinnamon, all spice, and clove were all imported from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean which was very evident in the taste. This was a spicy pumpkin beer where the spice knocks you out first and the pumpkin comes in at the end. It is really difficult to describe the flavor of this beer. Tropical is the first word that comes to mind, but not the pineapple, mango flavor usually associated with that word, but more of the jerk spices found in Jamaican cuisine. You simply have to find and try this beer. You will not be disappointed. There is no other pumpkin beer like this and the spices make it exciting. Overall, good gourd is an amazing beer, worthy of a 10. The spice blend and aroma are unique and extremely well-balanced. This is a beer that I liked better each time I tasted it. It scored lower in the pumpkin challenge though because it didn’t have that pumpkiny flavoring that I was looking for when sampling.
Overall Rating: 10/1010
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery – Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale
7.3 IBUs – 8.4% ABV
This beer barely beat out the Good Gourd. And the only reason that it did is the pumpkin flavoring was evident from beginning to end. This is probably what most people think of when they hear the term, pumpkin beer. There is a good balance of the spices and the pumpkin. And while it tasted good from the first sip, it got progressively better with each consecutive swig. This is definitely a beer to drink warm. I highly recommend this beer if you can fine it
Overall Rating: 9/109
Southern Tier – Pumking
IBUs unknown – 8.6% ABV
Begin by sniffing this beer. If you don’t immediately smell pumpkin pie or pumpkin cookies (you know those soft ones at the grocery store with the orange frosting), then you need to blow your nose. I would drink this beer over and over just so that I could smell it with each sip I took. There is much debate over this beer. I loved it with each sip and would order it over any other beer on the menu. This beer is pumpkin pie with whipped cream or a pumpkin cookie in a glass. For those of us who love cookies, sugar, vanilla, frosting, etc. this will be your favorite pumpkin beer, hands down. However, I would probably only be able to drink one because of the sugar. If those flavors and food items aren’t up your alley, then you probably will want to choose Frog’s Hollow or Good Gourd. Regardless, I highly suggest you get your hands on this beer. The smell alone makes it worth the price.