Look, I get it. The Great Pumpkin King has gone too far, and the last bastion of common decency was our 100% pumpkin-free beer. It’s time to stop being an outraged little bitch though.
In the past couple years, pumpkin beer has become the Nickelback of the potent potables. Everyone, including myself, loves to make fun of them; meanwhile they’ll sell hundreds of thousands of barrels this year. Shipyard Brewing alone went platinum with Pumpkinhead Ale. It’s time we stop pretending like they’re terrible and just admit that we love pumpkin beer as much as women in Uggs love pumpkin spice lattes.
Pumpkin beer has been around for centuries. You know who probably loved himself some orangish ale? George Washington. Sure, I don’t have any proof of that, but the US didn’t exactly have a ton of barley growing in patches, so pumpkins filled in for the now common grain. The lack of barley also happens to be why several of America’s oldest family owned breweries weren’t considered “craft” until recent rule changes.
There have been plenty of terrible pumpkin beer options in the past, but now that every brewer with a beard is making one, the pressure is on to create something that’s actually good. People in yesteryear would buy pumpkin beer just because t’was the season. Now if you want to move product you have to be exceptional. That’s not to say the bad ones are gone; trust me; they’re not. You just have the option to drink something better.
More brewers are turning to whole pumpkins instead of just pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice). Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, DESTIHL Samhain Pumpkin Porter, and Upslope Pumpkin Ale are three great examples of brewers who are using actual pumpkin flesh to create something vegetal instead of just spiced.
And is it really even a beer if it isn’t barrel aged? All the cool kids are doing it, and pumpkin beer is no exception. Shipyard aged Smashed Pumpkin in bourbon barrels; Avery tossed their Rumpkin in rum barrels, and Lakefront put their Imperial Pumpkin Lager in brandy barrels. The result is a collection of complex beers that aren’t just pumpkin pie in a bottle.
It’s high time we stop bitching about how many pumpkin beers are on the market. Clearly there is a demand for them, so fire up All the Right Reasons on Spotify and crack open an adult orange crush. Feel free to continue complaining about how early they were on the shelves though.
Additional pumpkin beers worth drinking:
- Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
- Southern Tier Warlock
- Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
- Sam Adams Fat Jack
- Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
- Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale
- Uinta Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale
- Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale