Stylin’ & Profilin’: What is a Pumpkin Beer?

Stylin’ & Profilin’ is a brief look at different beer styles that will help you learn whether they’re right for you. Ultimately, words can’t truly turn you on to a solid craft beer. You have to smell, taste, and savor each sip to truly discover if it’s one you’ll come back to in the future. But the background info obtained in this post won’t hurt anything either.

What is a Pumpkin Beer?

As this installment of Stylin’ & Profilin’ hits publication, we find ourselves at the beginning of the season where our beer of topic just tastes right. On this blog and related social media accounts, we’ve had plenty of discussions surrounding pumpkin beer. We’ve celebrated its greatness, we’ve ranked our favorites and seen how they match up with others, we’ve even debated what time of year is proper for pumpkin beer’s release. But we’ve never really defined it. Until now.

Pumpkin BeerA pumpkin beer, or pumpkin ale, is pretty self-explanatory in that it’s a beer brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices to capture one of the most popular tastes of the Fall season in our favorite adult beverage. Typically, these brews are released as a Fall seasonal. But due to an incredible increase in popularity and demand, pumpkin beers have started to hit the shelves in summer months…to the dismay of some and the overwhelming joy of others. More on that in a minute.

The creation of pumpkin beers varies. Some brewers choose to add hand-cut pumpkins to the mash, while others use canned pumpkin or pumpkin flavoring. As I mentioned before, pumpkin beers also contain pumpkin pie spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, ground ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. This beer style typically offers little to no bitterness with a malty backbone, a generous amount of spice on the front, and a slightly thick mouthfeel.

Many tend to believe the rise in craft beer as a whole is connected to pumpkin beer. On a personal level, myself and a lot of my friends grew up near Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York and were first introduced to pumpkin beers via Pumking, one of the most popular beers, let alone pumpkin beers, on the market today. I’ve seen many people taste this beer for the first time and fall in love, which ultimately opens the doors to further exploration into what exactly they’ve been missing by consuming cold-filtered, triple hops-brewed beer water for so many years.

As has become second nature with craft beers, brewers have pushed the envelope and taken pumpkin beers to new levels. We have seen pumpkin ales expand into pumpkin shandies, pumpkin stouts, Imperial pumpkin ales like Pumking and Shipyard Brewing Company’s Smashed Pumpkin, and Imperial pumpkin stouts like Southern Tier’s Warlock. With people clamoring for the latest pumpkin beer, just about every brewery has climbed into the pumpkin beer ring and aim to capture your palate with pumpkiny goodness.

Depending on your disposition, the seemingly unlimited availability of pumpkin beers at your disposal earlier and earlier each year may come as a delight or a detriment. Personally, the flavors found within a solid pumpkin offering remind me of Fall, therefore that’s when I’m going to enjoy this beer style the most. But many others are so head over heels with this beer style, despite the argument that overabundance may ruin its popularity, they’d drink it year round.

The best thing about beer? It’s subjective! It’s totally up to you when you’ll enjoy your pumpkin beer. So light that bonfire, make those s’mores, and kick back with a great pumpkin beer. Welcome, Fall!

Need some suggestions? Here’s just a small sample from the many pumpkin beers listed on

Pumpkin Beer List

 

 

 

 

Jason Cercone

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