Now I know I said I wouldn’t be doing many beer reviews, and I’m going to keep to that. However, I am going to make an early exception to run through the very polarizing category of pumpkin beers. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Pumpkin beer has been a craft staple for years and as time goes on it seems like every brewery out there is getting on the bandwagon and brewing one. Some do it well and some do it poorly, much like most other styles of beer.
I’ve had the pleasure of sampling more pumpkin beers this year than all my other craft beer drinking years combined. This is my list for 2013 (so far) from worst to best. Please do note that I haven’t ranked anything that I haven’t tried in 2013 so amazing pumpkin beers like Half Pints’ Punk ‘N Fest that would normally appear high on this list, unfortunately are left off.
We begin with the weakest entries into the list from 22-19. Skip to #18 for some real pumpkin pie flavour.
22. Prohibition Brewing Harvest Pumpkin Spiced Ale
21. Third Street Brewhouse Jack’d Up Autumn Ale
20. Granville Island The Pumpkining
19. Cannery Brewing Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale
Selections 18-14 are beers where the flavours are so similar that it was hard to rank them properly. They weren’t stand-out, but if you were jonesing for a fix of pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg – these would fit the bill.
18. Fernie Brewing Pumpkin Head
17. Phillips Crooked Tooth
16. Nelson Organic Pumpkin Ale
15. Grand Canyon Pumpkin Bock
14. Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale
13. Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – A solid chocolate porter in it’s own right. The pumpkin is subtle here. Buy for the chocolate, stay for the creamy pumpkin in the finish.
#12-9 represent spicier brews. Think of a pumpkin muffin or scone from Starbucks. Things are getting tasty…
12. Longwood Brewpub Full Patch Pumpkin Ale
11. Central City Red Racer Spiced Pumpkin Ale
10. Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale
9. New Belgium Pumpkick
8. Howe Sound Pumpkineater
7. Parallel 49 Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest – A Marzen brewed with pumpkin. It’s sweet, it’s malty, and it tastes strongly of pumpkin without being too heavy-handed on the spice.
6. Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Big notes of vanilla here. More pumpkin spices, and a biscuit-like backbone.
5. Phillips Crookeder Tooth – Barrel-aged pumpkin beer! Superior in every way to it’s little brother Crooked Tooth, this incorporates vanilla and oak into the palate.
4. Alley Kat Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ale – Big on the spice and on the pumpkin taste. Like pumpkin pie filling in a glass.
3. Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela – A pumpkin sour beer? Yup, and with just the right amount of spice. Outstanding!
2. Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale – Sweet, malty, spicy, and overall just delicious. If you’ve heard of Night Owl before, there’s a good reason for that: it’s one of the best pumpkin beers out there.
1. Southern Tier Pumking – As the name suggests, this is the king of pumpkin beers. It’s like pumpkin pie in a glass, graham crust and all. This is one beer that lives up to it’s hype.
So there you have it. Do you agree? Disagree? Have I missed one that’s a must-try? Let me know in the comments below.