The return of fall means many different things. For some, it means that their yards will soon have a blanket of yellow, orange, and brown leaves. It means the temperatures are growing colder and the days are getting shorter. It also means the return of one of the most seasonally specific beers: the pumpkin ale. They hit the store shelves in September (sometimes appearing in the midst of the August heat). Then they’re gone like a ghostly phantom in the night by Thanksgiving.
If it seems like pumpkin beer is a rather recent phenomenon, it’s not. When European settlers first came to North America, wheat and barley were hard-to-come-by ingredients. If you had any, you were more likely to make bread than alcohol. In place of grains and malt, native pumpkins became an important ingredient in beer. There’s even a recipe that dates back to 1771 for ‘pompion’ ale. In the case of this particular recipe, the writer wrote that due to a “twang,” you might want to wait a couple years after bottling to drink it.
Before we proceed, you should be aware that pumpkin beer is the cilantro of brews. Either you love it in all its pumpkin-y, fall spiced glory, or you absolutely loathe it and you don’t understand why beer drinkers await its arrival. If you’re in the latter group, simply stick to Oktoberfest-style beers, wet hop IPAs, and other seasonal favorites. You’ll be golden until winter. If you’re a pumpkin head like us, keep scrolling to find 20 of our favorite pumpkin beers to drink during fall.
Keep in mind, that while there are countless pumpkin beers on the market, these 20 fully embrace the pumpkin flavor. The pumpkin flavor isn’t hidden by myriad over-the-top flavors. These are pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice, pumpkin flavor through and through.
Note: Some might not be available (yet) due to seasonality.