Picking the right pumpkin: A guide to seasonal, gourd-infused brews

Wolaver’s Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale -- Named in honor of the organic farmer who supplied the brew’s most vital ingredient -- pumpkin, Wolaver’s Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale is a step up in color, flavor, and body. Brewed in Middlebury, Vermont, it pours deep orange with a slight haze. Sweet malt and pumpkin meat stand out in the nose, with a healthy dose of pie spice. Organically produced ingredients result in a very clean and light tasting brew, almost like sweet potato pie.

Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale -- Punkin’ Ale, 7% ABV brew by the awesome Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware is a huge step in the bigger, ballsier brew direction. There’s so many good things to say about this beer, but Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione explains it best.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Known for making massively flavorful (and strong) beer like Blithering Idiot Barleyine, Weyerbacher Brewing Company’s pumpkin offering is an extremely tasty brew that is still quite accessible despite its 8% ABV. The burnt orange hued and dense body is fiercely aromatic with the essence of pumpkin and nutmeg. Infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, this hugely drinkable beer from Easton, Pennsylvania saturates the palate with spicy pumpkin and traces of caramel and brown sugar from the inherent sweetness of high alcohol brews. For the college drinking idiot in all of us – The Pumpkin Bomb. Drop 2 ounces of vanilla vodka into 6 ounces Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin. Chug. A 2 ounce Bailey’s chaser is optional.

Terrpain Side Project #8 Pumpkinfest -- My pick for the most kick-ass pumpkin beer goes to my good friends at Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, GA. Their 8th edition of the experimental Side Project series, Pumpkinfest, has a ton of plusses going for it. First, this brew is a one time release, which makes it thoroughly geekable. It’s also a fusion of two Fall beer styles – pumpkin ale and Oktoberfest Marzen. This brew’s deep orange body and toasted gingerbready gourd aromas prepare the palate for a fusion of autumn flavors. Blending the two brew profiles downplays the Thanksgiving spice elements, allowing the flavor of true pumpkin to mingle with the malty zing of Oktoberfest beers. The 6.1% ABV isnt overpowering, resulting in a brew that is complex yet balanced, full bodied, and totally yummy. Cheers to Spike, Terrapin’s brewmaster, for envisioning and executing this truly superior pumpkin ale.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale — Brewed in Portland, Maine by Shipyard Brewing Company, Pumpkinhead is easily the mildest, most accessible, and sessionable pumpkin beer. At 4.5% ABV, this institution in pumpkin ales pours a golden hue, emitting aromas of wheat grain with faint traces of baking spices. On the palate, nutmeg dominates; making it very pie like, yet the brew is light bodied and easy drinking. It’s a nice introduction to pumpkin beer, with all the quintessential flavors packed into a thin, light-tasting brew.


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