Like First Takes Stephen A. Smith’s “A-List,” this list is fluid. However, this list is fluid, not because of indecision but mainly because there are a lot of pumpkin beers out there, and I haven’t tried them all. OK, there could be some shifting and a change of mind later, but as of January 16, 2024, this is the lay of the land.
Back in September 2022, I thought I’d get a head start on Halloween by reviewing some seasonal pumpkin-flavored beers. Initially a skeptic, I found myself on a three-month pumpkin beer odyssey that turned me into a believer. This fall, I’m practically gravitating toward every new store I encounter, eager to unearth the next great pumpkin brew.
The original plan was to focus solely on Samuel Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale. But, as is often the case with underestimated experiences, it planted a seed of curiosity that flourished over time. That led me to widen my sampling range, amassing a respectable collection of pumpkin beers over the course of time. You could say my palate has been thoroughly educated in this particular field.
Here are my latest rankings of the best pumpkin beers you should consider sampling this season.
32: The Great Pumpkin Ale
Cambridge Brewing Company
ABV: 5.4% IBU: N/A
Cambridge Brewing Company’s The Great Pumpkin Ale boasts a rich, copper-tea hue with a generous creamy head. The initial taste hints at a mild bitterness, but the aroma is subdued. While it’s a decent brew, the expected pumpkin and spice notes are elusive, leaving a bit more to be desired for true pumpkin ale enthusiasts.
31: Pumpkin Ale
Five Boroughs Brewing Co.
ABV: 6% IBU: 26
Five Boroughs Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale not only boasts eye-catching can graphics, but it also delivers a pleasing light flavor imbued with hints of pumpkin and spice. Marketed as “well-balanced and drinkable,” it largely lives up to that promise. While the ale may lose some points for a lingering, slightly bitter aftertaste, it’s definitely an enjoyable option for those who prefer their pumpkin ales on the lighter side. It’s a brew that engages the senses from sight to taste, making each sip an experience.
30: Pumpkin Ale
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
With many beers, it’s easy to form an opinion after just a few sips. In the case of Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale, it presented a unique challenge for me as a reviewer. Its qualities are more understated, neither strongly positive nor negative, which places it in a more neutral territory on my ranking. For a more detailed assessment, read our review.
29: Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Cigar City Brewing
ABV: 8.8% IBU: 28
Good Gourd by Cigar City Brewing is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale that defies typical pumpkin beer expectations. A mild spice blend and an obvious warmth from its 8.8% ABV enhance its complex flavor profile, which leans toward the pumpkin itself rather than its sweet spiced pie avatar. While the beer is rich and the carbonation subdued, it lands comfortably in the middle of the pack—neither a showstopper nor a letdown. It is a good choice for those who want a darker, heartier take on autumn pumpkin beers.
28: Dunkin’ Pumpkin
ABV: 5.2% IBU: N/A
The pumpkin flavor is mild and has a clean finish, but there are lingering coffee notes that are not apparent at first sip. In fact, the aftertaste reminds me of pre-sweetened cappuccinos from gas stations or Dunkin’ Donuts machines. Watered-down coffee and mechanical cappuccinos do not appeal to me, but to so many Americans, they do. I give the Harpoon Dunkin’ Pumpkin props for originality.
27: Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin
New Belgium Brewing Company
ABV: 6.4% IBU: 10
Originality is rewarded, and New Belgium’s Atomic Pumpkin’s flavor ranks high for its unique, high degree of spicy take. This delightfully punishing pumpkin ale’s name, “Atomic Pumpkin,” says a lot about it. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
25: Pumpkin Swirl
Rusty Rail Brewing Company
ABV: 6% IBU: N/A
Rusty Rail Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Swirl is a unique take on the classic pumpkin ale. Inspired by their popular Pumpkin Roll dessert, this brew offers a sweet profile complemented by a subtle, bitter aftertaste. It doesn’t go overboard on the pumpkin pie spices, presenting instead as a milder, nuanced pumpkin ale. Crafted with real pumpkin puree, lactose, vanilla, and a well-chosen blend of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, it’s a versatile, enjoyable beer that stands out in a crowded pumpkin ale market.
24: Ghosts of Pumpkins Passed
Departed Soles Brewing Company
ABV: 4.5% IBU: N/A
Departed Soles’ Ghosts of Pumpkins Passed boasts a rich copper hue, delivering a sweet initiation that crescendos into a hearty pumpkin and spice finale. This gluten-free gem does an excellent job suppressing the mild undertone of bitterness trying to surface while providing me with a light buzz at only 4.5% ABV. A triumph for gluten-free aficionados!
22: Jack-O Pumpkin Ale
Samuel Adams, Boston Beer Company
ABV: 4.4% IBU: 8
Times have changed in the pumpkin beer landscape. Samuel Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale, once the undisputed champion in my book, has taken a surprising tumble down my list — dropping about 22 places by the end of the 2023 season. Last year’s ale presented an unexpected acidic bite, veering into an overt sweetness that marked a departure from its more balanced, leaning-sweet profile. READ OUR FULL 2022 REVIEW
21: Mother Pumpkin Ale
Blue Point Brewing Company
ABV: 5.5% IBU: 25
Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale climbs to #21 in my year-end review, boasting a new can design and an improved flavor profile over last year’s offering. The aroma bursts with vitality, and there’s an elevated kick of spice that adds complexity. This ale stands out, offering a break from the overly sweet contenders and presenting a distinctive spin in a packed arena. It hasn’t entered the Top-10 yet, but the 2023 batch has certainly earned my increased admiration.
19: Tattooed Pumpkin
The Bronx Brewery
ABV: 7.5% IBU: 11
Tattooed Pumpkin by Bronx Brewery is a sweet and hazy pumpkin IPA with a slightly bitter finish. It’s better balanced in terms of pumpkin flavor and spices than many of the other pumpkin beers that I’ve tried. It’s sold in limited-edition artwork 4-packs with four different labels, in collaboration with Tuff City Tattoos.
18: Pumpkin Ale
Schlafly – The Saint Louis Brewery
ABV: 8.0% IBU: 16
First thoughts: molasses, dark, heavy, thick, and full of flavor. Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale is a pure delight of a beer. It’s hazy and sweet, from the first sip to the last, and could easily move closer to the top of this fluid list.
17: Mashing Pumpkin Ale
Beer Tree Brew
ABV: 5.6% IBU: 12
Mashing Pumpkins Ale from Brew Tree Brew presents as a smooth, easy-drinking pumpkin ale with a nuanced aroma that’s delicately spiced and subtly earthy. While the carbonation may fade swiftly after pouring, the beer compensates with a rich, lingering flavor profile that satisfies with every sip.
16: Pumpkin Imperial Ale
ABV: 10.7% IBU: 20
Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Imperial Ale boasts a brandy-barrel charm with notes of molasses and vanilla. It pours flat with a rich, sweet warmth that makes it a solid choice. It’s a fine brew that tantalizes but lands just shy of my top-10 favorites.
15: Ichabod’s Fall Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.6% IBU: N/A
Peekskill Brewery’s Ichabod’s Fall Pumpkin Ale offers a deep brown pour crowned with a thick, enduring creamy head. Its palate is notably mild, with a harmonious balance of flavor and aroma, devoid of any lingering bitterness. Despite its subdued carbonation leading to a smooth, almost velvety sip, it remains a solid choice for those seeking a gentle, easy-going pumpkin ale experience.
14: Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale
Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.
ABV: 10% IBU: 16
Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale impresses with its well-balanced profile. The first sip reveals a touch of richness, complemented by an aroma that pays homage to its bourbon barrel aging. Both pumpkin and bourbon flavors are present but not overpowering, striking a harmonious balance. The spices are tastefully moderate, avoiding the pitfall of excess. Overall, a robust, flavorful pumpkin beer with a satisfying kick.
12: Pumpkin Ale
Whole Hog Brewery
ABV: 7% IBU: 38
Whole Hog Brewery’s Pumpkin Ale may pour with few bubbles, but its flavor profile is lively. Striking a harmonious balance, one side teases with light sweetness while the other offers robust richness. The pumpkin and spices make their presence felt, complementing rather than dominating. Contrary to my expectations, there’s no bitter finish—just a smooth and tasty going down. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
11: Autumn Blaze Pumpkin Ale
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
Blazing clean and refreshing. The Captain Lawrence Brewing Company didn’t go full pumpkin with its Autumn Blaze Pumpkin Ale; instead, it has a very mild pumpkin flavor that grew on me. I later bought a second 6-pack as a change of pace as a dinner beer.
The Top 10 Pumpkin Beers
Separating the best from the rest
10: Pumpkin Ale
Montauk Brewing Company
ABV: 5.7% IBU: 15
This beer will be one of my favorites for as long as I can foresee. Montauk Pumpkin Ale previously held the title as the highest-ranked brew in my light-tasting pumpkin beers category, and it’s easy to see why. The beer impresses with its gentle yet flavorful blend of pumpkin and spices. A delightfully light option, it still stands as a top choice for anyone seeking subtlety in their seasonal sips.
9: Master of Pumpkins Ale
Tröegs Brewing Company
ABV: 7.5% IBU: N/A
Master of Pumpkins is brewed by Tröegs Brewing Company. It only took a few sips to know this beer was jumping to the front of the line. My first thoughts were that this pumpkin ale is well-named. The name? Oh, it’s not just a moniker; it’s a statement. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
8: Leaf Pile Ale
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
ABV: 5.2% IBU: N/A
Upon the first taste of Leaf Pile Ale by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, an internal monologue kicks in: “This is excellent—surprisingly light and utterly delightful.” The flavor is an intricate dance of mild pumpkin with a hint of dilution that, rather than detracting, adds to its smoothness. The brew stands on its own, sidestepping the pitfall of flatness, and presents a charming symphony of taste that’s both unique and pleasantly memorable. A truly unexpected and delightful brew that keeps the palate intrigued.
7: Smashed Pumpkin
Shipyard Brewing Company
ABV: 10.5% IBU: 35
It tastes like it was poured from a freshly carved pumpkin. Crack open a can of Shipyard Brewing Company’s Smashed Pumpkin, and you can smell the pumpkin. The mouthfeel is thick and heavy. It’s aged in oak-stave bourbon barrels for three months and has a boozy finish. However, my quick-forming buzz told me it was acceptable: “You’re drinking a bourbon-spiked pumpkin beer; let it ride.” READ OUR FULL REVIEW
6: Baked Pumpkin Ale
Lancaster Brewing Company
ABV: 7.5% IBU: 20
Lancaster Baked Pumpkin Ale is an absolute delight, making a strong impression from the very first sip. Within moments, I knew it had secured a spot in my Top-10 list of favorites. Flavor-wise, it’s in the same indulgent league as Sam Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale, offering a rich, pumpkin pie sweetness. Though its finish isn’t as crisp as its rival, it delivers a bolder kick. I was pleasantly buzzed before the bottle was even empty.
5: Basically Pumpkin Autumn Ale
Talea Beer Co
ABV: 5% IBU: N/A
Talea Beer Co.’s Basically Pumpkin Autumn Ale breaks the mold of traditional pumpkin brews. The initial sweetness is unique, flirting with a hint of sourness without fully committing. The overall experience is mellow yet enchanting, setting it apart from any other pumpkin ales I’ve sampled. This is a one-of-a-kind brew that defies easy categorization—absolutely worth the tasting experience for those seeking a pumpkin ale with a twist.
3: Roadsmary’s Baby Pumpkin Ale
Two Roads Brewing Company
ABV: 6.8% IBU: N/A
Two Roads Brewing Company’s Roadsmary’s Baby is a traditional pumpkin ale that is scary good and wins the “best in overall taste” category. It’s simply a damn good beer. It’s dark and feels a little heavy in the mouth. Aged in rum barrels, this beer has a smooth, complex, fruity, citrusy finish. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
2: Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
Elysian Brewing Company
ABV: 6.7% IBU: 18
Before ever trying a pumpkin beer, this is what I imagined a good pumpkin beer would taste like. Night Owl Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company hits that mark perfectly. It’s medium-bodied and slightly sweet, tasting great from the first sip to the last. Simply put, if you’re looking for a top-notch pumpkin ale, Night Owl sets the standard. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
1: Pumpkinhead Ale
Shipyard Brewing Company
ABV: 4.5% IBU: 18
There’s a new king of pumpkin beers, and its name is Pumpkinhead by Shipyard Brewing Company. This beer brings a refreshing palate to the table, leaving behind a finish that’s impeccably clean and free from any lingering bitterness.