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.
Imperial ale, 8% Easton, Pennsylvania 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 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?!
Bourbon barrel-aged ale, 10% Baltimore, Maryland 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.
Pumpkin ale, 7% Stevens Point, Wisconsin 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.
Brown ale, 7% Milton, Delaware 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.
Coffee ale, 6% Seattle, Washington 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.
Imperial ale, 8.8% Tampa, Florida 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, 8% St. Louis, Missouri 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.
Imperial stout, 10.5% Houston, 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.
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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.