Best Pumpkin Beers and Cocktails

Food & Wine: Drago Centro's Back to School
Drago Centro's Back to School Photo by Jason Eisner
By Justine Sterling Posted October 24, 2013

Throughout October, F&W is squash-spotting on Instagram using #FWMuse. Awesome chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Stephanie Izard are posting gorgeous shots of their new gourd-filled dishes. Per usual, we headed to the bar. The micro-season for pumpkin drinks is upon us and F&W’s not wasting time. Here, the best alcoholic ways to consume pumpkin, from expert pumpkin beers to pumpkin juice cocktails.

Classic Pumpkin Beers

Southern Tier Pumking: Southern Tier brewed this strongly spiced copper ale as an ode to Púca, a mythical Celtic creature who takes wayward travelers for life-changing rides on its back. It’s an appropriate mascot. The beer is known for turning pumpkin beer deniers into pumpkin beer lovers, thereby changing their beer drinking lives forever.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale: The Delaware brewery’s rich, brown sugar-tinged pumpkin ale is made with real pumpkin and classic fall spices. It is named for the seasonal tradition of Punkin Chunkin—an event where pumpkins are launched into the air by catapults, which seems like something that is fueled by a lot of Punkin ale.

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale: This rustic ale from the New Hampshire brewery is very dry, lightly bitter and ultra-refreshing. It is a beer drinker’s pumpkin pick. The prominent flavors are hops, malt and nutmeg, with a background of fruit.

New Pumpkin Beers

Southern Tier Warlock: From the makers of the beloved Pumking ale, Warlock is a very dark, imperial stout flavored with pumpkin pie spices. It’s heavier than the Pumking, with notes of coffee and chocolate.

He Said/He Said: This new pumpkin beer four-pack is a collaboration between brewers Dick Cantwell of Elysian and Shaun O’Sullivan of 21st Amendment. Each pack features two cans of Pumpkin Belgian Tripel, brewed with pumpkin, tarragon and galangal; and two cans of Pumpkin Baltic Porter, brewed with pumpkin, Vietnamese cinnamon and caraway. Both beers weigh in with a potent ABV of 8.2 percent.

CB Craft Brewers Harvest Jack: According to the brewery’s website, CB Craft’s first-ever pumpkin ale will make you want to “high-five a scarecrow.” The lightly sweet, amber-hued brew is flavored with pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, ginger, coriander and vanilla.

Pumpkin Beer Alternatives

Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus: Lambic lovers should seek out this tart and funky bottling from Timmermans. The 300-year-old Belgian brewery relies on spontaneous fermentation to create this cider-like lambic, meaning no yeast is manually added to the brew.

Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin: Sweet and tart with fall spices, this limited production bottling from Vermont’s Woodchuck Cidery is made with local pumpkins. For an added autumn bonus, the cider boasts an ABV of 6.9 percent, which is nearly 2 percent higher than their other ciders.

Traveler Beer Co.’s Jack-O Traveler: A classic summertime drink, the shandy is typically made with beer and lemonade. Traveler Beer’s new release is a fall-friendly version of the refreshing beer-tail, flavored with pumpkin and fall spices.

Pumpkin Cocktails

Back to School at Drago Centro, Los Angeles: Bar manager Jason Eisner uses an old family recipe to make his own candied walnut pumpkin butter, two heaping spoonfuls of which are used in the Back to School. To that he adds Fonseca port, fresh lemon juice, demerara syrup, Angostura bitters and Rittenhouse rye. He shakes the cocktail with ice, strains it into a double rocks glass and adds one large ice cube.

Pumpkin Old-Fashioned at Finch, Boston: The bartenders at Finch use fresh pumpkin puree in this take on an old-fashioned, with bourbon, maple syrup and Grand Marnier. The cocktail is shaken, strained into an ice-filled Mason jar and garnished with a rosemary sprig.

The Pumpkin Head at Jimmy at The James, New York: Bartenders shake Tito’s vodka with honeyed Drambuie, lime juice, orange juice and a spoonful of pumpkin puree. It is strained over ice, topped with hard cider and garnished with a sprig of thyme.

Related: Fall Cocktails
Pumpkin Recipes
Halloween Cocktails

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