It’s almost Halloween, which means two very important things: 1) Charlie Brown’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin” will soon be on television and 2) cans and bottles of pumpkin ale are lining the shelves of grocery stores across the country. But what is it with our — and the Peanuts’ – love of pumpkin?
The orange gourd seems to represent warmth and flavor, both sweet and cinnamon, as well as the generous spirit of the season. Some like pumpkin beer for the novelty of it, others like the pumpkin pie-esque flavor in a glass. In fact, in terms of brewing, the pumpkin has a long history with American beer.
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In colonial times, pumpkins were so prevalent that they were used to add malt (aka sugars) to beer. Later, as pumpkins were more and more associated with the working class, this was put to rest. But in the late 20th century, the pumpkin flavored beer earned a resurgence – so much so folks are even scrambling to find pumpkins. And now it seems here to stay! There are even rap songs about it! So, in order to get your pumpkin beer fix, we’ve compiled a list of nine of the best this country has to offer. Cheers!
Elysian (Seattle, WA)
Maybe it’s no surprise that we start here, given the Great Pumpkin theme. Elysian (a Seattle-based microbrewery recently bought by Anheuser-Busch), known for their big, malty brews, makes three pumpkin-inspired beers for the season: their coffee flavored Punkuccino, Dark O’ stout and imperial Great Pumpkin ale. We love choices!
Rogue (Newport, OR)
This long-beloved Oregon brewery’s twist on a pumpkin ale has a hint of orange peal to compliment the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom flavors. Rogue, known for their fruity Dead Guy Ale, also adds a touch of vanilla, ginger and nutmeg in their seasonal favorite: Pumpkin Patch Ale.
Redhook (Seattle, WA)
One of the original micro breweries, Redhook has been churning out widely-quaffed ales for 35 years and their Out of your Gourd Pumpkin Porter is another lovely edition.
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While most pumpkin beers are sweeter ales, this dark, rich porter satisfies two cravings: pumpkin spice and dark, wintry goodness.
Dogfish Head (Milton, DE)
Dogfish Head beers always seem to end up at parties. It’s a brand name that has come to mean “good choice” and their Punkin Ale is a mild, smooth and drinkable version of the fall favorite.
Shipyard (Portland, ME)
While the Northwest may be king of micro brews, Portland, ME (aka the ‘other Portland’) is no slouch either. Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin ale is crisp – not brought down by any heavy pumpkin taste – and kissed by a touch of the fall flavor (read: pumpkin and nutmeg spices).
Cigar City (Tampa, FL)
Tampa is actually an up-and-coming beer locale. It might not be the first thing you think of, but spots on the U.S. southern tips (read: Tampa, San Diego) are producing some fine suds. And Cigar City’s Good Gourd pumpkin beer is at the top of the seasonal list. It’s malty, spicy and packed with pumpkin malts. No need for pie for dessert when you have a bottle of this!
Stevens Point (Stevens Point, WI)
The Pumpkin Ale tastes like a solidified slice of pumpkin pie. And that’s okay! The brewery, less than two hours from the University of Wisconsin, better make a bunch of brews because colleges are thirsty for tricks and treats in bottle, can and keg form.
Saint Arnold (Houston, TX)
Thought by some to be the best of the best when it comes to pumpkin beer, this imperial stout – dubbed the Pumpkinator – is dark and rich as the October night. Take a sip and you might think The Great Pumpkin is nearby about to give you gifts of…more Pumpkinator!
Schlafly (St. Louis, MO)
This copper-colored delight is big bodied, bright and malty with a touch of clove. It keeps in the tradition of the modern pumpkin ale, not deviating from history with the hopes of grandiose success. Rather, it’s tried and true and meant for sipping after a night of answering doorbells and handing out candy.