There are so many pumpkin beers on the shelves these days that it's difficult to figure out what's a trick and what's a treat. We’ve done the tough work of drinking the best pumpkin beers in America to ensure your next six-pack is full of sugar, (pumpkin) spice, and everything nice.
One disclaimer: We didn’t include delicious variants of some of these beers because they’re generally impossible to find -- and what the hell’s the fun in that if you can’t drink it? If a given brewery on this list distributes to your state, you should have a good shot at buying its pumpkin beer.
Rum barrel-aged ale, 6.8% Stratford, Connecticut Distribution: Available in 12 Eastern states and Colorado... use their beer finder tool here Surely the finest beer ever named after a movie in which (spoiler alert) a woman gives birth to the Devil’s offspring, Roadsmary’s Baby is a devilishly delicious take on a barrel-aged pumpkin beer. Colorado brewer Avery isn’t producing its legendary Rumpkin this year, but Two Roads takes the rum barrel-aged mantle and runs (rums?) with it, offering up a beautiful, deep copper-colored ale with an intoxicating pumpkin spice blend on the nose. Your tastebuds will dive into pools of vanilla and oak imparted from the rum barrel. And unlike most barrel-aged brews with super high ABVs, this 6.8% brew will give you all those flavors you know and love from the cellaring process without making you want to take a nap immediately after drinking it.
Imperial ale, 8.8% Tampa, Florida Distribution: Available in more than a dozen states... use their beer finder tool here Good Gourd is often cited as the pumpkin beer against which all others are measured, as it tastes like liquid pumpkin pie. Check the spice list: cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, vanilla, and nutmeg. And you bet your sweet bippy those spices show up in every sip. It's also 8.8%, so you don't need to drink much of it to get into the Halloween spirit. Also, you can't drink much of it because you it’s now impossible to buy a bunch of bottles and stash them away for future consumption -- it’s currently only available on tap.
Pumpkin ale, 6.4% Fort Collins, Colorado Distribution: Available nationally The Voodoo Ranger IPA is one of New Belgium’s best-selling and beloved beers, which explains the release of multiple variants like Imperial and Juicy Haze. Atomic Pumpkin throws out the pumpkin beer rulebook that says every pumpkin beer must taste like pumpkin pie, and adds a spicy twist. This surprisingly hot brew adds Saigon cinnamon and peppers like habanero, aji, and de árbol. While the first few sips yield sweetness and a little hoppiness, it’s not long before you feel a lingering burning in the throat and on the tongue. A pumpkin beer hiding a dastardly surprise? Why, that’s a perfect Halloween drink, and one of the more unique, nationally available pumpkin beer options.
Pumpkin ale, 9% Portland, Maine Distribution: Available in more than a dozen states... use their beer finder tool here Shipyard's kind of the OG of Maine's brewing scene, and the stalwart brewery offers up two different takes on the seasonal brew. And while we do love us some Pumpkinhead, we're also suckers for Smashed Pumpkin, and not only because it makes us feel like dusting off our old "Zero" long-sleeves. This beer walks a tightrope of flavors beautifully, giving you a hint of spice that lingers on the palate just long enough, cut with a nice sweetness that walks right up to the line of cloying without crossing over. It's a sneaky trick, and one you should be careful with: This beer is infinitely quaffable, but also comes in full pint cans clocking in at 9%, which could lead you to discuss the finer points of Zwan's musical output if you go too fast.
Imperial stout, 10.5% Houston, Texas Distribution: Texas Some might say this is the best pumpkin beer in America. Those someones happened to be beer judges in 2017 for the Great American Beer Festival, where they awarded it gold in the Pumpkin/Squash or Pumpkin Spice Beer category. The brew doesn’t skimp on ingredients, as it’s the most expensive beer they brew, and it shows. It’s a rich, dark, malty treasure overflowing with molasses, brown sugar, pumpkin spices, and enough pumpkins to bake 437 pumpkin pies, according to the brewery. Pro tip: If you’re in Houston and want one, order it in the literal cathedral Saint Arnold opened last year. It may not be a religious experience, but at 10.5%, it'll certainly have you speaking in tongues.
Pumpkin ale, 4.5% Holland, Michigan Distribution: Available in most states... use their beer finder tool here If you’ve heard of New Holland Brewing, you likely either live in the Great Lakes region, or are aware of its fantastic bourbon-barrel aged Dragon’s Milk beer. Or both. Hey, Michigander! Taking a whiff of this brew rewards you with loads of nutmeg aroma, but the taste is not the pumpkin-spice bomb you’re expecting. It’s a restrained take on the pumpkin brew, with more hops (26 IBUs) than most offerings in the liquid-gourd space, and it results in an easy-sipping beer that doesn’t immediately remind you of dessert served at the Thanksgiving table.
Brown ale, 7% Milton, Delaware Distribution: Available nationally This is the pumpkin beer for people who say they don't like pumpkin beers. It won't overpower you with pumpkinyness, and the finish is quite pleasant. And because it’s brewed by people who always seem to brew beers that sound like that could be absolutely disgusting but always turn out fantastic, you can feel confident that you’re in good hands with a pumpkin pint from Dogfish Head.
Bourbon barrel-aged ale, 10% Baltimore, Maryland Distribution: Available up and down the Eastern part of the country... use their beer finder tool here Bourbon-barrel aging results in enjoyable vanilla notes that permeate the 10% imperial ale. But the aging isn't what propels this beer alone into one of the country’s best -- it's the sessionable factor combined with the pumpkin spices. It's well-spiced, and yet it's also one of the few brews in a large format bottle that's not a challenge to finish. Make sure to keep an eye out for the new Great’ER Pumpkin Latte variant on draft -- it piles on coffee, vanilla, lactose, and happiness to the original.
Coffee ale, 6% Seattle, Washington Distribution: Available in 30+ states... use their beer finder tool here Elysian offers a bunch of pumpkin beers each year, but after drinking all of them, Punkuccino here is the clear standout. This is an upscale, boozy version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte that is creamy and flavorful down to the last gulp. If you’re gonna brew a coffee pumpkin beer in a city as obsessed with coffee and beer as Seattle is, it better deliver. And this does.
Barrel-aged ale, 10.3% Salt Lake City, Utah Distribution: Available nationwide in select markets -- use their beer finder tool here Epic has long upended the stereotype that Utah is only home to weak, low ABV brews, having long bottled the award-winning, barrel-aged Big Bad Baptist and all of its boozy variants. If this imperial pumpkin is any indication, the barrel program at Epic remains its strength. It pours out as black as a Halloween night, with whiskey, vanilla, and chocolate notes from the porter base combining for a ghoulishly intoxicating flavor. One caveat: This is not one of those, “This tastes like liquid pumpkin pie!” beers. Pumpkin pie spices play second fiddle to the big, bold flavors found in the barrel-aged porter base. Perfect for anyone who likes pumpkin beer, but doesn’t like like pumpkin beer.
Pumpkin ale, 7% Stevens Point, Wisconsin Distribution: Available throughout the Midwest, plus parts of the South and Northeast... use their beer finder tool here The folks at Stevens Point -- who are behind this new offshoot label -- must have just liquified a pumpkin pie and put it in a bottle, because this mimics the pumpkin pie experience better than any beer we’ve tried. Another plus: It's not overly sweet. Expect a host of intense pumpkin pie flavors like nutmeg and cinnamon. A marvelous beer.
Imperial ale, 8% Easton, Pennsylvania Distribution: Available in 24 states... use their beer finder tool here Pumpkin spice heaven on the nose and the taste buds. The bottle promises "cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom," and they dance on your tongue, as promised. In a sea of seasonal brews with funky ingredients trying to vie for your attention, this stalwart has been on the shelf year after year because of its sterling reputation as a solid pumpkin ale. This year’s batch of pumpkin brew is finally available in cans, making it a perfect beer to stow in your backpack for a fall hike.
Sour ale, 5.9% Dexter, Michigan Distribution: Available in very limited markets in 30 states... use their beer finder tool here Jolly Pumpkin has endured years and years of people making jokes about not actually making pumpkin beer, and has finally caved with La Parcela. Unlike fan demand for a second Dumb & Dumber movie, it actually paid off. This beautiful, bubbly oak-aged ale gets all the pumpkin notes right, with a hint of cocoa on the back of the tongue. "Guess now folks will have to find something else to joke about," reads the bottle. All right, JP. How about a Blue Raspberry Jolly Rancher saison?!
Pumpkin ale, 8% St. Louis, Missouri Distribution: Available in 14 states... use their beer finder tool here No conversation about pumpkin beer is complete without Schlafly, which might just be the most well-balanced bottle in the patch. The spiciness on the nose may spook some, but one sip reveals how it's medium-bodied and smooth on the palate, with pumpkin flavors playing along more as an accent than the language. Oh, and the real good news is that it tastes exactly like liquid pumpkin pie. It's what people in the industry call a "converter" beer because even people who hate this style will usually find something they like. Not surprisingly, this makes it a pretty obvious choice for a cooler option at your Halloween party or mid-season tailgate.
Brandy barrel-aged ale, 13.4% Milwaukee, Wisconsin Distribution: Wisconsin and very select markets in multiple states... use their beer finder tool here Do you own a smoking jacket? If not, we recommend purchasing one, finding the nearest fireplace, and cozying up to it with a glass of Lakefront Imperial. After all, this brew smells like brandy (due to, you know, it being aged in brandy barrels) and pumpkin spice, and it demands to be sipped on a cold winter night. Perhaps one of those nights is after Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve got a fork in one hand digging into a huge slice of apple pie, a glass of boozy, brandy-fied pumpkin juice in the other, and enough alcohol running through your system that you can tune out everyone in the room asking you to justify your life choices.
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Lee Breslouer writes about food and drink for Thrillist, and thinks Good Gourd also comes in #1 for pumpkin beer-related puns. Follow him at @LeeBreslouer for pumpkin-scented tweets.