I went to QFC tonight to pick up some pumpkin beer, and there was only one kind on the shelf. One. Normally I”m not overly concerned with Christmas decorations coming out before Halloween, but how am I supposed to celebrate the spooky season with no pumpkin beer?
EDIT: I raided the local QFC a week later and got these:
The day is saved!
So, before all the fantastic pumpkin beers go, here’s my opinion on this year’s best and most pumpkiny. I’ve included notes, so if you prefer a more fruity pumpkin to a spicy one, you can make your own choices.
Note: I like pumpkin beers with strong pumpkin flavors complemented by spices and not overly sweet. Night Owl, Pumpking, and Pumpkick have the most pumpkin flavor out of all the beers.
Favorites (“A++, Would Buy From Again”)
Pumpkin ale. Hands-down favorite. The beer is a little on the sweet side, but the pumpkin flavor is very strong thanks to the seven pounds of pumpkin and the pumpkin seeds included in the brewing. Notes of pumpkin-pie spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger) in the nose and body. Creamy with a clean finish. I require this for Thanksgiving.
Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Beautiful , crisp, imperial ale. Reminded me a little of an IPA, actually. Not overly hoppy and not sweet; light but complex.
Imperial pumpkin ale. Very pumpkin-y with a sweet pumpkin nose. Light on the spice and hops; crisp and sweet. One of the most pumpkin-y beers.
Pumpkin ale. Very smooth with a strong pumpkin flavor. Hops and barley flavors are present but mild, and there is a nice hint of sourness. No chemicals, additives or preservatives.
Imperial pumpkin stout. Solid, nuanced beer with a sweet pumpkin-pie-spice nose. The actual beer is more balanced, roasted, and a little bitter, which prevents the pumpkin and spice from being cloying.
Lambic. I love the sourness of a lambic, yet this one was mild and fruity enough for our cider-drinking friends, too! The pumpkin flavor is dry and fruity rather than spicy, with a mild acidic bite to its creaminess.
Wheat ale. (Wait, this is Anheuser-Busch? The shade of it all…) Lighter wheat beer with pumpkin and spices. The pumpkin flavor holds up better in this beer than some of the darker beers.
These were excellent beers overall but I prefer a very pumpkiny pumpkin beer. There’s something for everyone here, though!
Porter. A solid pumpkin porter with a hint of maple.
Ale. Excellent as an ale, but the pumpkin flavor is not very prominent. Strong notes of caramel and molasses.
Ale. A lighter beer on the fruity side, with less pumpkin-pie spice and more cranberry and pumpkin. Very pumpkiny. Not too sweet.
Brown ale. Dry, hoppy ale with cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin notes; nutmeg finish.
Stout. Sweet cinnamon nose; stout with slightly bitter finish; malty with cinnamon notes. The pumpkin flavor is not as pronounced as in the Night Owl.
Amber ale. Nutty, smooth amber ale, heavier on the spice than the pumpkin.
Pumpkin ale. Hoppy and a little bitter. Great overall, but the pumpkin flavor is overtaken by the IPA. Anise is a nice touch.
n.b. I’m trying to find Great Pumpkin by Elysian because this sounds like the best thing on earth. Now back to hunting down the last of the pumpkin seasonals before delving headfirst into the winter beers. 完敗！