The 5 Best Pumpkin Beers

In the last decade, it has become the trend to immediately usher in the winter holidays after October 31. In some ways, “Hallowthanksmas” has become its own conglomeration, celebrated all at once over the course of three months. For some, this is entirely unacceptable. 

The team at TapRm loves the holidays, from Halloween to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and every other in between. However, for all those who refuse to put up their inflatable lawn Santas until after Thanksgiving, we salute you. 

You are the keepers of fall and the unmatched champions who keep the Thanksgiving fires burning. Yours is a slower season of leaves changing, flannel shirts, and crisp air. It’s why you’re definitely still enjoying your pumpkin beers in November. 

For those of you who might not appreciate a good pumpkin beer this “late” in the season, we’ve got some suggestions for you that might make you put your winter ale toward the back of the beer fridge. 

We’ll tell you about five pumpkin beers that are incredibly good, give you a little history on pumpkin beer, and give you some fast facts about pumpkin beer to help you defend your November pumpkin beer-drinking causes. 

What Is Pumpkin Beer?

Most of us know that as early as late July, we start to notice the appearance of fall beers on store shelves. They may be spiced or harvest apple flavored, but nothing trumps the pumpkin beer in terms of pure popularity and desirable fall flavor.

Pumpkin beer is created to give you the flavors of a freshly baked pumpkin pie. As such, it’s not always flavored with pumpkin. More commonly, spices like allspice, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and clove are used to flavor pumpkin beer. 

For an extensive look at how pumpkin beer flavors stack up against one another, check out our article on fall beverages.

The History of Pumpkin Beer

Pumpkin beer isn’t a microbrewery creation from the past ten years. It’s been around since colonial times. The earliest settlers recorded their use of pumpkin in beer-making (and virtually everything else) because the pumpkin was a native and readily available crop in America. 

What was not readily available was good quality malt grain. If you know anything about beer-making, you know you need malted grains to produce fermentable sugar. Without, you’ve basically got a seasoned, sugar-water mixture. 

The settlers found that the pumpkin flesh contained fermentable sugar and also gave their beer a nice flavor (that they probably got really tired of drinking). 

By the 1800s, when people were just thinking they couldn’t possibly drink another drop of pumpkin beer, malt grain became readily available. Pumpkin mead was thought to be colloquial, and it exited the scene for a few decades. 

By the mid-1800s, pumpkin returned to beer-making, but then only as a means of adding flavor to beer, not for its fermentable sugar content, and that’s where the pumpkin beer story ended… Until the glorious 1980s. 

In the big hair heat of the 1980s, an American brewery revived pumpkin beer and turned it into the pumpkin ale we drink today. Using George Washington’s beer recipe and real pumpkin, this brewery developed the first modern-day pumpkin beer, and we’ve never looked back. 

Pumpkin Beer Fast Facts

Your friends may have all switched back to their standard IPAs or begun their seasonal forays into “cheer beer,” and you may be catching some slack for still sipping your gourd juice. Worry not, friend. Here are some hard pumpkin facts you can hit them with to show them your beer is more than just Halloween hops.

  1. It’s a fruit beer. Technically, pumpkin is a fruit, and it's a fruit that is seasonal through the end of November. Because pumpkin is a product of the seed-bearing portion of the plant, it’s labeled a fruit. However, in the culinary world, it’s still completely acceptable to classify it as a vegetable due to its savory taste. 

    Because the pumpkin is a seasonal fruit that is best consumed through November, you’re well within your right to drink it past October 31. 

  2. Pumpkin beers aren’t usually sessionable, so you’re drinking them now while you can enjoy them. Session beers are beers that are easy to drink, have a lower ABV than other beers, and have a light, crisp flavor that makes them great for having more than one. 

    Pumpkin beers are typically darker ales, heavy on the spice, and medium to full-bodied. They have a thicker mouthfeel and maltier taste. 

  3. Pumpkin beer is at its highest consumption during the month of September, followed by October and then August. Drinking pumpkin beer in November is trendsetting, progressive, and bold. Enough said. 

Also, beer isn’t the only pumpkin-flavored boozy beverage to imbibe in the fall. Pumpkin ciders and kombuchas are also created for those who want an alternative to the traditional pumpkin ale. 

The Five Best Pumpkin Beers To Try Right Now

If you’ve already shelved the idea of pumpkin beer until next year, these five brews might make you change your mind. The best part, you can grab all of them at TapRm, no trip to the store required. Besides, your grocer doesn’t carry them anyhow. 

These brews are from microbreweries across the U.S. that are passionate about beer-making and have done their due diligence to develop new and exciting pumpkin flavors you’ll love. 

1. Dark Pumpkin Lager

Nothing says fall like a dark, weighty lager. Plan Bee Farm Brewery Barrel Series #1 is the first in an exclusive series of beers harvested from a single barrel. Brewed with fall favorites like corn, pumpkin seeds, and smoked peppers, this beer is aged in a whiskey barrel sourced locally near the upstate NY brewery. 

You’ll love the smokey flavor of the whiskey barrel balanced out by the sweet corn, pumpkin seeds, and savory peppers.  With an ABV of 6%, you could easily have more than one. 

2. Pumpkin + Activism

Want your beer money to go to a better cause than lining the big guy’s pockets? Check out Dyke Beer Witch Please! Created by two women in Brooklyn as a way to pay homage to the lesbian community and give the community a beer of their own. A portion of their proceeds goes to activism in the LBGTQ+ arena. 

You’ll feel great about the cause and great about the taste as you imbibe the flavors of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger. The ABV5% makes it easy to drink. 

3. Pumpkin Marzen

The classic Oktoberfest beer is still plenty drinkable in November, especially if you’re sipping on Ross Brewing Company’s Jacktoberfest

This Marzen has an ABV of 6.1 and offers a robust menu of flavors, including spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. You’ll even pick up hints of candied yams, which makes it perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Obviously, it’s got a strong pumpkin flavor that will keep you satisfied as you continue on your pumpkin beer quest. 

4. Hard Cider

Hard cider is perfect any time of year but usually enjoys greater popularity in the fall. Hudson North Cider Company’s Toasted Pumpkin hits all the marks by combining warm pumpkin pie spice flavors and Hudson Valley apples. It’s the perfect, comforting flavors of fall in one delicious dry cider that’s just sweet enough. 

5. Spiced Hard Tea

We told you we had options, and if you’d prefer a lighter than air fall-flavored drink, this is your ticket. Although Owl’s Brew Spiced Chai Cranberry Boozy Tea isn’t a pumpkin beer, it is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom, classic spices used in pumpkin pie. The spices are perfectly balanced by tart cranberry and apple. 

This warming blend of spices makes a delicious hard chai tea that will warm your belly and your spirits. With an ABV of 4.8%, this hard tea is completely sessionable and not overly sweet. 

What To Eat With Pumpkin Beer

The truth is, pumpkin beer is the perfect accompaniment to your fall table. Here’s how we love to serve it. 

  • With pie. Pecan, to be exact. The nutty flavor of the pie brings out the full range of flavors in the beer. The flavors of the toasted pecans and the sweetness of the pie blend perfectly with the coordinating flavors of pumpkin beer. 
  • With savory sides. Fall calls for savory vegetables like squash, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, and greens. The delicate sweetness and spice in a pumpkin beer round out the savory vegetables nicely. 
  • With gratitude. Your Thanksgiving turkey dinner isn’t complete without a pumpkin beer. There’s really no other flavor that pairs more perfectly with your turkey and mashed potatoes than a pumpkin ale. The spices all coordinate with the traditional holiday flavors and pull out notes of sweetness in your dishes. 

Ultimately, there are no rules for what to eat or not to eat with a pumpkin beer. If you love it with your pumpkin beer, it’s a great pairing.

Pumpkin Beer For All

At TapRm, we believe no beer is limited to one particular season. If you love pumpkin beer in summer (and have access to it), drink it. The only requirement for beer drinking is that you enjoy it.

We help you find the beers you most enjoy by connecting you to microbreweries across the nation, whose access is usually limited to locals. By delivering local beer to non-local beer drinkers, we’re helping build a better beer infrastructure that helps the craft beer industry expand. 

To the November pumpkin-beer drinkers (and pumpkin-beer drinkers year-round), we’re here to support you. Cheers to pumpkin beer!

 

Sources:

Are pumpkins a fruit or a vegetable? What is the difference between the two? - Have A Plant | Fruits and Veggies.org 

Pumpkin Beer History: Colonial Necessity to Seasonal Treat | Serious Eats 

What Is Pumpkin Beer? | The Spruce Eats

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