It’s fall, y’all! If you’ve missed me, sorry I took some time off this summer. But, summer is over now, and you know what that means… PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!!! Yes, it’s ridiculous. Just like Christmas decorations, “Octoberfest” brews and pumpkin beers are released earlier each year. They’ve encroached on August now! It’s only a matter of time before July is fair game. Some people hate pumpkin beers, but personally I’m a fan. They’re only here for a few months and fall is my favorite time of year, so I like to enjoy them while they’re available. When it’s winter, I’ll enjoy stouts. Then, there’s plenty of time for summer beers. But, right now, fall is in the air! Without further ado, here is Dad Kingdom’s review of the best pumpkin beers we could find!
Ballast Point – Pumpkin Down is a Scottish ale with seasonal flair (not pictured). I don’t often get to try the offerings of Ballast Point from San Diego, but I’m glad I did! It’s more carbonated and refreshing than most pumpkin beers, with a moderate 5.8% ABV. This is not a one-and-done beer! The flavor profile isn’t breaking any new ground; nothing shocking or fancy here. Pumpkin Down is just a solid, well-made, drinkable, fall brew.
Wait, what? Habanero peppers?!
New Belgium – Pumpkick is a delightful brew with a physically-threatening name. It was originally released in 2016. The sweet and tart cranberry flavor is a pleasant deviation from run-of-the-mill October beers. It cuts through the traditionally heavy pumpkin flavor. Pumpkick is bright and refreshing enough to drink more than one without much pause. Also, the 6.0% ABV is perfect in my opinion.
New Belgium – Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin is the latest fall brew from New Belgium and it would seem Pumpkick is not going to make an appearance this year. I’m disappointed, but Atomic Pumpkin is a great consolation prize. This one formidable beer. The 6.4% ABV is strong and the taste is equally mighty. Pretty standard stuff… Pumpkin. Cinnamon. Wait, what? Habanero peppers?! This brew starts off sweet and crisp, then follows with a very unique spicy hot finish. Incredible. I enjoy Atomic Pumpkin very much, but still prefer the session taste of last year’s Pumpkick.
Brooklyn Brewery – Post Road Pumpkin Ale is a deliciously smooth ale. Less bright and carbonated compared to others. Instead, it’s more mellow, yet complex. I taste caramel, spice and malted barley; It’s more interesting than just a liquefied pumpkin patch. This can be a great quality for an extended session. I found myself trying to set it down but wanting just one more sip. This Brooklyn brew has a relatively tame ABV of 5.0% which makes me even more willing to drink more than one.
Dogfish Head – Punkin’ Ale is similar to the Sam Adams seasonal, but more crisp, carbonated and less malty. Therefore, enjoying two or three of them isn’t a chore. But, watch out for the ABV! This brown ale’s 7.0% will sneak up on you! The pumpkin flavor and spices taste more at home in this brew; Still present, but not in your face as much as some varieties. Punkin’ Ale is a fantastic beer that’s also widely available.
Southern Tier – Pumking Imperial Ale is not a beer for the faint of heart. Pumking comes down from New York and punches you in the gut with an 8.6% ABV. Surprisingly, that ABV does not come with too much hoppyness or bitterness. Instead, it’s absolutely loaded with sweet malts and pumpkin flavor. It’s a delicious experience, make no mistake about it, but I’m not sure I could stomach more than one before switching to something else.
Sam Adams – Octoberfest is a classic time-tested fall beer. A refreshing pumpkin front end, but a malty sweet and slightly tart finish that limits the drinkability. To be honest, I’m a little sick of it after one 12oz bottle. But, that can probably be said for most heavily-flavored seasonal beers. Octoberfest’s 5.3% ABV is reasonable, but I prefer something higher when flavor is bountiful.
Most of these fall pumpkin beers are delicious! But, I can’t recommend them all. If you want something lower on the ABV scale, Brooklyn’s Post Road is an easy suggestion, as is Pumpkin Down. But, personally, I prefer the seasonal offering from Dogfish Head (and Pumpkick if it every comes back). Punkin’ Ale checks all the boxes for what I’m looking for in a fall brew. It’s got complex sweet and tart flavors. It’s got a solid ABV without sacrificing drinkability. And, it’s easily obtainable too! What are you waiting for? Go enjoy some for yourself!