Did you know that my birthday is also National Pumpkin Day!?!? Wheeeee!!
Pumpkin beer is my all-time favorite variety. Most of them are malty, amber-brown, slightly sweet and spiced. I can’t think of a better flavor combination!
I’ve written about pumpkin beer before in a blind tasting we did in 2010:
And this post talks about our favorites and features Matt’s pumpkin beer homebrew recipe:
Matt and I wanted to host a blind pumpkin beer tasting with ALL of our favorites plus some more we had yet to try. And there are so many more that we can’t even get here in Virginia! A notable brew that was missing was one of my favorites: the Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, which is so popular it was sold out all over town.
So here were the 11 beers we tasted, with Matt’s homebrew in the middle:
We did the tasting blind and took notes as we went.
Each beer got a score based on its overall fit into the pumpkin beer category. Here is my ranking (with 10 being the best) and notes:
1. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale – Hoppy. Bitter finish. Dry. Cidery. Bland. Not very pumpkiny. Like a pale ale trying to be a pumpkin ale.
2. Evolution Jacques Au Lantern – Sour/yeasty. No spice. Tastes flat. Hints of Belgian/banana yeast.
3. New Holland Imperial Ichabod Ale – Slightly sweet. Dry/crisp. Hint of ginger + nutmeg. Bitter on finish. Not much pumpkin, and a little boring.
4. Wolavers Pumpkin Ale – A little yeasty and sour. Apple notes. Not much spice, but well rounded. Hop presence.
5. Cottonwood Spiced Pumpkin Ale – Butterscotch on the nose. Thinner. A little apple-y. Cinnamon present. A little flat. Possibly oxidized.
6. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin – Malty. Sweet but bitter on finish. Butterscotch. Balanced amber. Soft spices and smooth.
7. Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin – Slightly bitter. Malty. Balanced. Slightly smoky. Higher in alcohol. A nice big beer.
8. Dogfish Punkin’ – Caramel. Medium sweetness. Minimal spice and some butterscotch. Well rounded.
9. Matt’s Homebrew – Malty. Medium body with good spice and sweetness. Pumpkin present.
10. Williamsburg AleWerks Pumpkin Ale – Malty. Very spicy with lots of cinnamon. Tastes like homebrew yeast. Very sweet. Like a caramel apple.
11. Southern Tier Pumking – King of all pumpkin beers! Butterscotch. Butterbeer. Sweet. Marshmallowy. Kettle corn. YUM!
Pumking won best of show not just from me but from about half of the group. Matt’s top pick was the Williamsburg.
A few pumpkin beers we have had but were not included:
Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin – yuck.
Post Road – boring.
Jack’s Pumpkin Spice – generic + boring.
Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale – like.
Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin – like a lot!
Schlafly – LOVE but sold out!!
A note about Cottonwood: it was the first pumpkin beer I LOVED when I discovered it in college and remained my favorite for years. It was brewed at Carolina Beer Co. in Mooresville. The original, however, was retired, and this new version by Foothills is just not the same. It’s good, but not as good.
For the love of pumpkin!