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 September 24, 2023, 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. Pumpkin beers were not really my thing (but I’m a fan now), and I ended up on a journey where all I drank were pumpkin beers for three months.
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 most updated insights as of September 24, 2023, and a discerning list of the best pumpkin beers you ought to consider this season.
# 18 – Pumpkin Ale
Five Boroughs Brewing Co.
Five Boroughs Brewing Company makes a pumpkin beer with beautifully designed can graphics. With hints of pumpkin and spice, I put it in my lighter-flavored category. Its Pumpkin Ale is marketed as “well-balanced and drinkable.” I did enjoy it but deducted points for the lingering, overly bitter aftertaste.
# 17 – Pumpkin Ale
Smuttynose Brewing Co
With most beers, I can write a review after a few sips. Things pop into my head. I know if it’s good or bad right away. In my review of Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale, I really struggled to find something to say about it. Nothing really good or bad stood out, which is why it’s not that high on my list. READ THE OUR REVIEW
# 16- Dunkin’ Pumpkin
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.
# 9 – Tattooed Pumpkin
The Bronx Brewery
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.
# 8 – Pumpkin Ale
Schlafly – The Saint Louis Brewery
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.
# 7 – 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.
# 6 – Pumpkin Ale
Montauk Brewing Company
Montauk Pumpkin Ale reigns supreme among pumpkin beers on the lighter side. The pumpkin and spices aren’t overpowering, but rather delightfully light. This beer is unquestionably the best in the “light pumpkin beer” category of all the beers I’ve tried.
# 5 – Roadsmary’s Baby Pumpkin Ale
Two Roads Brewing Company
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
# 4 – Master of Pumpkins Ale
Tröegs Brewing Company
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
# 3 – Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
Elysian Brewing Company
Before ever trying a pumpkin beer, this is what I imagined a good pumpkin beer would taste like: The Night Owl Pumpkin Ale from the Elysian Brewing Company is medium-bodied, lightly sweet, and great from the first sip to the last. READ OUR FULL REVIEW
# 2 – Smashed Pumpkin
Shipyard Brewing Company
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
# 1 – Jack-O Pumpkin Ale
Samuel Adams – Boston Beer Company
There is not even a close second. Samuel Adams easily holds the title of “the best pumpkin beer.” READ OUR FULL REVIEW