The Very Best Pumpkin Beers for Fall
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The Very Best Pumpkin Beers for Fall

Best Pumpkin Beers
Courtesy of Heavy Seas, Avery, Anderson Valley, Weyerbacher, Southern Tier, and Tröegs Brewing Companies

What better marks the arrival of fall than everything pumpkin-flavored? Get ready for pumpkin cakes, pumpkin coffees, pumpkin kale (yes), pumpkin condoms (double yes) — but we know what you really want is a beer.

Though just about everything under the sun now has a seasonal pumpkin-flavored variety, craft breweries were among the first (and best) to tackle this autumnal taste. There's just nothing better to drink at a bonfire, or after a long day of apple picking, or if you morning pumpkin coffee didn't quite scratch your seasonal itch. Most of the brews Travel + Leisure sampled were ales, but there's still a wonderful variety, with saisons, stouts, and plenty of other flavor profiles stepping up to make some truly delicious pumpkin beers.

Two major components make up what we think of pumpkin flavoring — traditional pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves), and the sour, squashy, and often bitter gourd itself. Their combination is something like perfection: please see how good pumpkin pie is.

Some beers lean more heavily on the spices, others take pumpkin in new directions, and still others get that balance just right. We've rated each beer on spice and on pumpkin so you can better find the perfect beer for you.

1. Pumpkin Ale from Horseheads Brewing (7% ABV)

Horseheads Brewing Pumpkin Ale is the platonic ideal of pumpkin beer. Subtly aromatic, this brew is not too sweet — as many pumpkin beers overwhelmingly are — and also a little bitter.

Spice: 2 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 4 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

2. Peace Offering from Perennial Artisan Ales (6.3% ABV)

With a big head and a color like the buttery brown sugar glaze on a butternut squash, this American brown ale is intensely autumnal. Made with Missouri squash and maple syrup, it's like liquid Thanksgiving. Its mild carbonation calls back to traditional English ales.

Spice: 3 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 3 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

3. Master of Pumpkins from Tröegs Craft Brewery (7.5% ABV)

Combining pumpkin, spice, and French saison yeast (along with a fancy cork top), Tröegs's deep caramel-colored Master of Pumpkins is well balanced and pretty eminently drinkable.

Spice: 1 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 5 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

4. La Parcela No. 1 Pumpkin Ale from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (5.9% ABV)

Known for their saisons and wild American ales, Jolly Pumpkin's signature is sour and tart beers. This pumpkin ale falls in line with a bright, fruity, and cider-like profile. Super carbonated and super sour, it's all about that squash flavor.

Spice: 1 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 3 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

Related: How to Pack for a Weekend Getaway

5. Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Weyerbacher Brewing Company (8% ABV)

Bright and rich orange, this aromatic ale balances sweet, spicy, and sour flavors — kind of like the best pumpkin pie.

Spice: 4 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 3 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

6. The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company (8% ABV)

This low carbonation, golden orange imperial ale boasts an aroma that's both sour and spicy. Nicely balanced and not too sweet, there's real pumpkin here.

Spice: 3 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 4 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

7. Pinchy Jeek Barl Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin Ale from Anderson Valley (8.5% ABV)

A dark ale the color of burnt sugar, Pinchy Jeek Barl smells of wood and bourbon and a hint of spice. Another ale that's low in carbonation, its creamy sweetness is noticeably more alcoholic. (No surprise it's been aged in former Wild Turkey bourbon barrels.)

Spice: 3 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 2 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

8. Emma's Pumpkin Citrouille Saison from Trinity Brewing Company(9.5% ABV)

With a complex mix of spices that includes sage, coriander, grains of paradise, brown sugar, and garam masala, Trinity has produced an incredibly fragrant and complex pumpkin saison. The color of burnt sugar, this sour, fruity beer pours from a top that's been dipped in sealing wax — fancy!

Spice: 3 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 3 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

9. Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout from Elysian Brewing Company (7.6% ABV)

When poured, this stout looks like liquid chocolate. Elysian ramped up the cinnamon here, and the beer smells and tastes intensely of raisin bread. Though there's not a lot of pumpkin present, it's still delicious.

Spice: 4 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 0 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

10. The Greater Pumpkin from Heavy Seas Uncharted Waters (10% ABV)

A strong one, The Greater Pumpkin is aged in bourbon barrels. The creamy, malty pour is delicious, though not particularly pumpkin-y.

Spice: 2 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 0 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

11. Ichabod Pumpkin Ale from New Holland Brewing (5.2% ABV)

The color of a sugar pumpkin, Ichabod Pumpkin Ale is fresh, subtle, and highly drinkable — but none of the flavors you'd expect from a pumpkin beer emerge very strongly here.

Spice: 4 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 1 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

12. The Great Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge Brewing Company (4.4% ABV)

Another sweet beer, the Great Pumpkin Ale smells and tastes like a cinnamon bun, with a slight sour pumpkin aftertaste.

Spice: 5 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 1 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

13. Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company (6% ABV)

It's got a shot of Stumptown coffee in every pint, but this pumpkin-coffee combo is too sour to approximate a pumpkin spice latte.

Spice: 2 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 4 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

14. Imperial Ale Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing Company (8.6% ABV)

Southern Tier's pumpkin smells like the inside of a pumpkin farm gift shop — sweet and spicy. And that's most all of what you'll be getting here.

Spice: 5 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 1 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

15. Rumpkin from Avery Brewing Company (18% ABV)

Part of Avery Brewing Company's "Annual Barrel Series," Rumpkin offers up a very high ABV ale that's been aged in rum barrels. Super sweet, it tastes more like a tropical rum cocktail for autumn than either pumpkin or beer. Sip, don't gulp.

Spice: 5 out of 5 spice cabinets

Pumpkin: 0 out of 5 jack-o-lanterns

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