Just like bakeries roll out their pumpkin pies in autumn and windows are lit with jack o’ lanterns, the beer industry has its own reason to celebrate pumpkins. Several microbreweries introduce this seasonal ale each September. And it’s a throw-back to early brewing years when there was a reliance on local produce, such as squash or pumpkins, instead of expensive, imported malt.
Sandwiched between the summer and winter selections—Beach Bum Blonde Ale and Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale, respectively—Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale (Anheuser-Busch, Inc.) is the fall seasonal brew. Its bright nose, prominent hops character and caramel notes are a result of brewing with barley malt, pumpkin and spices. Of the ones sampled it’s the lightest ale in flavor. www.anheuser-busch.com
Raw pumpkin purée announces itself in the midpalate of New Holland Brewing Company’s Ichabod, with subtle spices and a lighter body than all the beers but Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale. A distinct pumpkin nose kicks off the sipping experience. www.newhollandbrew.com
With classic honey-like flavors—a characteristic of the flagship brew, Blue Moon Belgian White – Blue Moon Brewing Co. Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale is creamy and toasty, with definite Belgium ale flavors on the finish. You might not want to stick an orange slice into this brew, however; its mulling spices are plenty. This beer is a Seasonal Collection beer, a follow-up to summer’s Honey Moon Summer Ale. www.bluemoonbrewingcompany.com
Brewed with pumpkin purée and spices, Smuttynose Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale is the sweetest of the bunch and wraps up with a lingering, metallic finish. On the nose is the scent of raw pumpkin, a wonderful, appropriate welcome. www.smuttynose.com
With a full body, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is a bright beer brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, producing a crisp, refreshing and malty beverage. Of the pumpkin beers sampled this is the most complex, and with excellent mouthfeel. www.dogfish.com
Brewed with “the spirit of the Adirondacks,” per the beer’s label, pumpkin and spices combine to flavor Saranac Pumpkin Ale. A flawless beer, there’s a distinct pumpkin-pie flavor carrying through, unwavering and consistent, going down smooth. www.saranac.com