Fall is here, and this year it seems there are more seasonal pumpkin brews than ever to choose from. With so many choices, places like Total Wine and More come in handy because you can build packs of individual bottles instead of committing to the high price of a seasonal six-pack for a trial. I’m not usually an ale consumer, but in the fall I make an exception for the pumpkin ales because they can be so different. As with the above Simpsons snap, sometimes you wonder.
Here are fourteen varieties I tried, ranked least favorite to favorite.
Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Maybe I got a bad bottle, but there isn’t a single hint in the taste this is a pumpkin ale. Pumpkin in Name Only (PINO)
New Belgium Pumpkick
Not a bad ale, just weak in terms of a pumpkin ale. Not much pumpkin or spice taste.
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Okay… I didn’t really taste pumpkin or spices until the second sip.
Long Trail Pumpkin Ale
An ale that tastes pretty good, just not strong as a pumpkin ale.
Red Hook Pumpkin Porter
I don’t think porter plus pumpkin is a combo that works. A wiff of nutmeg emits from the full glass, but hardly anything pumpkin-y comes through on taste.
Starr Hill Boxcar Pumpkin Porter
Another porter that has good taste, but not a lot of pumpkin taste. Here and there hints, but no direct approach.
Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin
Not very spicy. It didn’t taste as good as I remember it when it was my very first pumpkin ale, at Nationals Park last season.
Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale
You can smell the spices when you pour it, but you can’t taste very much of them.
Saranac Pumpkin Ale
There is something there I like… caramel? Not great, but interesting.
Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin
Pretty good, decent pumpkin and spices taste. Seems more potent.
Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
Shock Top rarely disappoints, and this is pretty good. This tastes like they wanted to be a pumpkin ale. Not the best, but good.
Very nice taste, good seasonal spices, totally acceptable.
This one was a late review, I picked it up in mid-November when almost all the pumpkin brews were off the shelf. Got one in a mix pack and had to go back to get the remaining mix pack stragglers. The only regret I have is I didn’t run into this one earlier. Very, very good and ties Harpoon.
Harpoon Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale
Very good, this is what I was looking for. High flavor and spices. Tied for winner!