Welcome to Tapped, where the brightest minds in beer pour out their suds-soaked knowledge. Drink it all in, right this way.
The fall season means free candy on Halloween, tooth decay as a result of said free candy, and pumpkin beers. And because we love pumpkin beers, we spoke to pumpkin beer expert (and ambassador brewer) Jeremy Danner of the stalwart Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri about his favorites.
Danner knows a thing or two about pumpkin beers, as his brewery churns out two fantastic options: the spiced sour Funky Pumpkin in six-packs, and the Brett-filled Funkier Pumpkin, which is now available in big ol' 750ml bottles. But before you hit the stores to find Boulevard's beers, here are the five fall-flavored brews Danner's drinking right now.
9.6% Tampa, Florida "The brewing team at Cigar City is known for their stellar execution of 'treatments' to beers -- whether it's spicing, fresh citrus, chocolate, or coffee. I feel like its fancy beers always taste exactly like the descriptions suggest. It's not easy to take concepts and carry them into the final beer as well as they do; Good Gourd is no exception. It's got a higher ABV than many pumpkin beers at 9.6%, but it doesn't present as incredibly boozy. There's just enough bitterness to keep the beer from becoming cloying while caramel malt and roasted pumpkin flavors meld into a super-balanced pumpkin ale."
8% St. Louis, Missouri "I feel like this is the beer that folks think of when they think of Midwest pumpkin spice beers. It has that big, sticky malt character with appropriate spicing, but comes in at 8%. I dig a fall beer that has a huge, comforting malt character and enough ABV to warm me up. If you run a brewpub in Missouri that doesn't brew a pumpkin beer, this is your fall guest tap. I've talked to Schlafly brewers about making this beer, and it's a beast."
11% Houston, Texas "We can't get Saint Arnold in Missouri, but we won a bet with them during the MLB postseason last year, and our reward was a case of Pumpkinator. I liked how the base beer was a legit, delicious imperial stout that showcased brown sugar and pumpkin pie spices. I think a great pumpkin beer needs to be a solid brew without the spices in order for the final product to be great. You can't save a beer with spices, and this beer certainly doesn't need saving. The layers of chocolate and caramel malt add a nice complexity."
5.9% Dexter, Michigan "Like our own Funkier Pumpkin, La Parcela is totally a beer geek's pumpkin beer. Giving a funky saison base the pumpkin spice treatment just works in ways that don't make sense in your head until you actually taste the beer. The interaction of the acidity, funk, and the spices makes for a pumpkin beer it's easy to have more than one of. Brewmaster Ron Jeffries can do no wrong."
5.4% Cambridge, Massachusetts "I had the fortune of being in the Boston area one year while Great Pumpkin Ale was on draft at the pub. I'd seen pictures of the brewing process on social before, and it blew my mind to see the time and effort that went into simply prepping the pumpkins for the brewhouse. Anything that difficult that's deemed worth doing by the brewing team must be delicious. The lower ABV combined with how drinkable, balanced, and tasty the beer is results in what may be the world's only session pumpkin ale. Is that the next giant category at GABF?"
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and has some pumpkin beer in his fridge right now. Follow him to seasonal boozing @LeeBreslouer.