We are in the dead of fall, when my diet consists mostly of pumpkin and pumpkin-byproducts. In the fall, as animals start to forage for hibernation, I seem to start collecting pumpkin beer. So much so that Zara has to draw a line several times on us putting more in the refrigerator. Those are my credentials, and these are my personal Totes Favs Pumpkin Beers.
Warning, you aren’t going to find Southern Tier Pumpking on this list. I’m sorry, while I usually enjoy a a glass annually, an 8.9% abv beer that only comes in 4 packs or 8oz glasses for $10-11 just isn’t sustainable.
This is a Totes Favs Mini. Some topics don’t need a full contest in the Battledome. For those that do…
The Truth is Out there… It’s also right here, when I tell you that Harpoon UFO Pumpkin is a great option if you prefer the spice part in Pumpkin Spice. In my near three month period of pumpkin-beer consumption (no, YOU have a problem!), Harpoon UFO Pumpkin is a great break since it tastes more like the pumpkin pie spices that most people tend to confuse the taste of pumpkin for than the actual gourd itself.
4. Defiant Headless Horseman Pumpkin Ale
I have to rep my native area. Defiant is an up and coming local micro-brewery with some great BBQ. This is a very well-balanced english style ale with a nice strong finish of pumpkin and spices. Since this is the type of pumpkin ale that is crafted by mixing real pumpkins into the brew, it has that sweet full craft beer taste. The fact that its named Headless Horseman and is brewed within miles of Sleepy Hollow itself also gives it bonus points.
3. Shipyard Pumpkinhead
Yes, I know this can be a controversial pumpkin beer in the beer snob arena because it’s pretty light, but gosh-darnit, it was my first pumpkin beer I ever drank and I still find it near perfect. Even as the world descends into pumpkin mania every fall, the reality is not everyone loves the taste. Pumpkinhead is a perfect beer to bring to a party where you aren’t sure everyone is the living embodiment of The Great Pumpkin. It is a scarily drinkable light wheat beer with a not-overly sweet or wheaty pumpkin flavor.
To me, there is something magical about the place of a beer’s origin and I like to think misty Portland, Maine full of old fisherman ghosts as a prime location for this kind of brew. Also, it has the headless horseman on the bottle.
2. New Holland Ichabod Ale
Alright, lets get it out there. This beer has The Headless Horseman on the bottle. Phew, now that’s out in the open, I can say that even if this beer is from Michigan and not the Witch-Hunting Northeast, it has a toasty pumpkin-pie flavor that is close to the quintessential pumpkin beer you may have imagined when you first heard the words “pumpkin” and “beer” combined in a sentence.
1. Greenport Leafpile Ale
Notice that Greenport Leafpile doesn’t have the word “Pumpkin” anywhere in its name. The first time you pour this beer, amber leaves will magically start to rain around you and a small goblin with a name that humans can no longer pronounce will appear in front of you, holding a glowing orb. He will tell you in olde english that this is a seed from the first pumpkin in history, handed down through his family for millennia. The goblin will then place the glowing object in your glass, turning on the spot, disappearing in an orange flash. You think for a moment that you hear distant church bells playing the opening chords of “Thriller,” but then awaken a new better person. You take a sip from your glass, and say aloud, “wow, that’s a pretty solid pumpkin beer.”