Pumpkin Beers for People Who Hate Pumpkin Beers
While many people look forward to the annual seasonal slew of pumpkin beers that start to hit the market around this time of year, a vocal and dedicated crowd of pumpkin brew haters is also out there. They fear the fridge at any party, worried nothing but a bunch of oddly-flavored fall brews lurks inside.
A dislike of pumpkin beers is understandable: The flavors vary wildly, and creating the proper balance of gourd and spice isn’t particularly easy, resulting in plenty of muddled or heavy or just plain boring pumpkin offerings. If you’ve simply had enough of all the standard varieties of “pumpkin ale” that are out there, here are six slightly different takes on pumpkin beers that might pique your palate in one way or another.
Southern Tier Warlock
For a decade now, New York’s Southern Tier has been brewing its equal parts famous and infamous Pumking: a nearly 9 percent ABV monster that drinks like liquid pumpkin pie. Personally, I’ve always adored its dessert-like intensity, but knowing that so much pumpkin isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, a few years ago, the brewery introduced Warlock: a beer that essentially cloaks the classic Pumking in a cloud of Imperial Stout. If you like big intense beers but lean towards stouts instead of pumpkin beers, give Warlock a try.
If wrapping a pumpkin beer in the flavors of stout isn’t enough to awaken your tired tongue, maybe some caffeine would do the trick? Washington’s Elysian Brewing adds none other than Stumptown coffee to its spiced pumpkin ale to create Punkuccino. Consider it a brewers compelling alcoholic answer to the pumpkin spice latte craze.
New Belgium Pumpkick
If your beef with pumpkin beers is that they’re already a bit too heavy, Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing has a beer that takes a lighter approach to the style. Beyond simply using the typical round orange squash and seasonal spices, Pumpkick also includes cranberry juice and a “touch of lemongrass.” The result is a pumpkin beer with a bit of refreshing tartness that won’t weigh so heavily on your palate.
Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela
For years, the irony in Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales’ name was that the brewery didn’t make crowd-pleasing pumpkin beers. Quite the opposite, this Michigan operation earned a solid reputation by specializing in complex and intense funky farmhouse and sour styles. Eventually, however, Jolly Pumpkin decided to bring that joke home to roost by finally doing a pumpkin brew – but doing it their way: a both sweet and sour delight that even includes a “gentle kiss of cocoa.”
Almanac Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville
After last year’s phenomenal Pumpkin Sour, this year, the California-based brewer is slated to release another wild-fermented, barrel-aged pumpkin beer that takes “a bright and aromatic farmhouse ale with a blend of twelve ‘brett’ yeast strains” and adds in caramelized pumpkin and pie spices before maturing the whole thing in wine barrels. Admittedly, no one I know has actually tried this beer yet, but based on their past work you might not want to miss it.
Downeast Cider Pumpkin Blend
If your biggest gripe against pumpkin beers isn’t the “pumpkin,” it’s the “beer,” Massachusetts’ Downeast Cider House has your answer with its seasonal Pumpkin Blend cider. Granted, this cider doesn’t really have the refinement of any of the beers on this list, but if you’re looking to indulge in pure fall pumpkin spice without any interference from malt sweetness or hoppy bitterness, Downeast’s Pumpkin Blend tastes like October just exploded in your mouth. It’s not for everyone, but for a small percentage of pumpkin beer haters, this crowd-pleasing cider may be a revelation.