Some of the season’s best pumpkin ales


Pumpkin Ales were common when barley wasn’t plentiful to brew beers dating back to America’s colonial days. Pumpkin was abundant in the autumn when barley was scarce. Many of today’s brewers have rediscovered this style of beer and typically use baking spices to modernize this form of beer.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, CA, Fall Hornin’, Pumpkin Ale is reddish brown with a dark tan head. Aromas of roasted malt blend with pumpkin spices. The palate follows the nose, but the pumpkin comes in stronger and softens the baking spices. This ale tastes like fall and is a great rendition of how a pumpkin beer should taste.

Unita Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, UT, Punk’N, Harvest Pumpkin Ale is bright orange with a fluff tan head. The nose is muted but the roasted malt does come through nicely with pumpkin baking spices emerging in the background. The flavors do follow the nose here as well. The palate has all of the right flavors; they are just not in your face. This would be great with a scoop of pumpkin spiced ice cream. If a heavily baking spiced beer isn’t your think, enjoy a Unita Punk’N is for you.

Dogfish Head Brewing, Milton, DE, Punkin Ale is amber with a thin khaki head. Roasted malt with caramel hit the nose up front with the spices coming through secondary. Here the palate really reflects the palate. The Dogfish Head Punkin Ale was inspired by a festival Punkin Chunkin in Delaware where pumpkin are hurled through the are. The recipe was created in 1994 and won a recipe contest at Punkin Chunkin in 1994, six months before Dogfish Head opened for business according to Dogfish Heads’ website

Smutty Nose Brewing, Hampton, NH, Pumpkin Ale also has an orange gold appearance with a thin head. The pumpkin puree used the Smutty Nose Pumpkin Ale shows up front on the nose backed by caramel, cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate is dominated by toasted malt and the pumpkin puree. The baking spices also come into play and all work together. The flavors work well together and make a very tasty beer.

Southern Tier, Lakewood, NY, Pumpking Imperial Ale is dark golden yellow with a quickly receding white head. Sweet roasted malt greets the nose and with rich vanilla and baking spices. The pumpkin and baking spices dominate the palate of this perennial favorite pumpkin ale. Southern Tier gets it right every year. Use it to bake with and then pair it with the baked results.

Pumpkin beers aren’t a session beer, but they are interesting and have their place at the table. This current batch had no losers among the bunch and were true to style which is what matters most.

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