News & Politics

The Best Pumpkin Beers

Birch & Barley/ChurchKey beer guru Greg Engert lists his favorites

Pumpkins about to be turned into pumpkin ale. Image used under a Creative Commons license courtesy flickr user
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Is there any better accompaniment to Halloween than pumpkin beer? Birch & Barley/ChurchKey beer guru Greg Engert lists his favorites.

The Bruery’s Autumn Maple (California)
10 percent alcohol by volume
“This beer is actually brewed with yams. A rich malt sweetness abounds and is joined by the typical flavors of pumpkin pie—cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and vanilla. More autumnal goodness results from the addition of both molasses and maple syrup.”

Southern Tier Brewing Company
’s Pumking (New York)
8.8 percent alcohol by volume
“Among the most complex of the pumpkin brews, this encapsulates the experience of homemade pumpkin pie. A combination of pumpkin sweetness, yeast-driven aromatics, and well-integrated spicing results in an ale that not only tastes of pumpkin and spice but also of graham-cracker crust, whipped cream, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.”

Cape Ann Brewing Company’s Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout (Massachusetts)

7 percent alcohol by volume
“For those who love darker brews, this hybrid combines the best of two excellent dessert ales. As a stout, it offers notes of chocolate and hazelnut, which go beautifully with its creamy sweetness and elegant spices. For those who can’t decide on dessert, Cape Ann’s offering gives you piece of pumpkin pie and a slice of chocolate cream.”

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales’ La Parcela (Michigan)
6 percent alcohol by volume
“A strange and wonderful example of a style that’s the perfect brew for the beer geeks who think they’ve tried it all. This begins as an ale brewed with the requisite pumpkin and spice. The first turn toward innovation results from the addition of cocoa, and then the brew gets wild with aging in oak barrels. The wood provides some toasty, vanilla flavors, and the wild yeasts within the barrels induce an earthy, funky, and tart finish.”

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.