Favorite Pumpkin Beers 2015

Snatch up the last of those pumpkin beers, because it’s time for the annual pumpkin beer list (and some talk about hate crimes, queer folks, and mental health).


Please note that I do not purchase beers from breweries with misogynist names, labels, or ads. (If you see a beer on this list that is from a problematic brewer, please let me know–sometimes I mess up and forget who is on the “NOPE” list.) This year, I did not include anything from Elysian because they were bought out by InBev/Budweiser. Read more about that here.

The Winner

Pumpkinhead Ale, Shipyard Brewing Co. 4.5% ABV. 5/5.

Rich but crisp pumpkin flavor with subtle spices.

The Runner-Up

Via Beer Street Journal

Pumpkin Down, Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits. 5.8% 4.75/5.

A Scottish ale with pumpkin and cinnamon might sound a little odd, but trust me, this one works. Toffee, caramel, and roasted pumpkin are complemented by a hint of pumpkin pie spices. Also, I really feel that label art.

Pumpkin Ales

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The Great Pumpkin Ale (Citrouille), St. Ambroise, Brasserie McAuslan. 4.5/5.

Better than last year! Clean, refreshing, with a good balance of pumpkin and spice. Light on the hops.

Imperial Pumpkin Sleigh’r, Ninkasi Brewing Company. 9%. 4/5.

Toasted malt; heavy on the brown sugar without being too sweet. Light on the pumpkin, though.

Harlot’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Pike Brewing. 8.5%. 4/5.

Normally if I saw this name out of context I’d be pissed, but Pike Brewing is all about preserving the history of the founding of Seattle, which was done in part by taxing the sex workers of the city and the LaSalle Hotel, run by Madam Nellie Curtis. This is a malty ale with pumpkin.

Saranac Pumpkin Ale by The Matt Brewing Company. 5.1%. 3.5/5.

Solid pumpkin ale with spices. Does what it says on the tin.


Punk’in Drublic, Coronado Brewing Company. 8%. 3.5/5.

An imperial pumpkin ale. Had this in Japan because I was at a craft beer bar and figured, why not? Very cinnamony.

Squash Buckler, Fort George Brewery. 6.5%. 3/5.

More copper ale than pumpkin, hoppy, not too sweet, no spices.


La Parcela, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. 5.9%. 4.25/5.

It’s been 6 years since I last went to Michigan and partook of this lovely beer at the Ann Arbor brewpub. Excellent sour with a hint of cacao.

Pumpkin Sour, Almanac Brewing Co. 8.5%. 3.75/5

Dark and sour and a little light on the pumpkin.

Mead and Cider


Cranberry Cider, Tieton Cider Works. 6.9%.  4.25/5.

Semi-sweet cranberry. Tastes of Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Spice Mead, BeeHaven Mead. 5.5%. 3.5/5

Honey, sweet potato rather than pumpkin, cinnamon. Very sweet.

Smoked Pumpkin, Tieton Cider Works. 6.9%.  3.5/5.

I liked that the smoked element was different, but it didn’t blow me away.


Rumpkin (2015), Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, CO. 18% ABV.  4.25/5.

Halloween weekend was a weird one. I was too busy having a panic attack about getting murdered by dudebros crashing the gayborhood on Halloween night to enjoy the holiday*, so my girlfriend and I went out the next day for brunch at Pine Box to make up for it.

There, we made the horrible mistake of splitting Rumpkin and two other pints. 18% ABV is no laughing matter, kids, and we thought, naively, that splitting a 6 oz glass of it was going to be just fine. Nope! We were that sort of day-drinking-before-the-farmers-market sloshed, when you’re like “be cool, act sober, keep it together WHY HELLO GOOD SIR I SHOULD LIKE A PINT OF YOUR FINEST CRANBERRIES” and then basically just laid around and watched Twin Peaks all day and were useless.

The beer has a molasses nose with burnt sugar, rum, and a little pumpkin. It’s fizzy rum. It’s strong. Maybe don’t drink this at brunch.

*Seriously, though. Queerphobic hate crimes (including at Pride, wtf) in Seattle are no laughing matter, and between the microaggressions I deal with daily, a history of biphobia with the ex and his friends, the street harassment, and the fact that “queer women getting run over by cars” is a media trope (see also here and here and here and here), I have days when my anxiety gets the better of me. Because I’m happy in a relationship for the first time in …ever?, and happy cute queer couples that look like us always end tragically in TV shows (fuck you, Call the Midwife) and films. Some days my anxiety and the news makes me feel like I feel like going out is akin to saying, “alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my hate crime.”


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