It’s fall!

For some, fall means football. To others, it means Halloween, or the kids returning to school. We can’t argue with any of that. But it also means one more very important thing: it’s time for the season releases of pumpkin beers.

We recently sampled a few different pumpkin beers, and here is our take:

North Peak Brewing Company: Hooligan


Hooligan Pumpkin Ale

The word Hoppy on the label immediately got my attention.  Unfortunately this beer was a bit of a disappointment.  While it was bold and not overly spiced, the hop flavor that I was looking for was simply not there. It was more malty than I expected and did have some pumpkin flavors in that maltiness. It seemed as if the hops they used were added too early in the boil and that gave them more of a bittering characteristic and not the flavor and aroma I had hoped for.  Granted, it is only 35 IBU and 5.5%, this drinks as a much more bitter and strong ale.

  • Brewer: North Peak Brewing
  • Style: Hoppy  Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 5.5%

Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream:

Magic Hat Wilhlem Scream

This beer gives you want you want in a basic pumpkin ale.  Yes, you get the cinnamon and nutmeg, but it is not too spicy and the pumpkin flavor comes through.  If you like pumpkin, this can be a very sessionable beer. Also with its smooth creaminess, it leads to comparisons to pumpkin pie.  This could certainly be served to grandma on Thanksgiving.

  • Brewer: Magic Hat
  • Style: Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 5.4%



Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale:

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

This beer has two sides.  It starts out very high on pumpkin spice, almost too much, whereas you may think that is all it is, luckily it fades and finishes as a nice brown ale, with a bit of bitterness. Not Smuttynose’s best offering, there are better ones out there. Drink it if it’s put in front of you, but If you are buying Smuttynose, look to their Big Beer Series first.

  • Brewer: Smuttynose Brewing
  • Style: Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 6.45%

Fat Head’s Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

Fat Head's Spooky Tooth

  • Brewer: Fat Head’s Brewery
  • Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 9%


One of the best.  While Fat Head’s distrubution may not reach your area, they have been brewing some award winning beers, with their Head Hunter IPA and Bumble Berry being most notable to the ModernThirst crew. This Imperial Pumpkin is very impressive, they call it “The Pumpkin Brew With Bite”.  I, Matt, actually disagrees\ with the bite part, it is very smooth and light on the pumpkin spices, which lets the malts and the brewers expertise stand out.  They were able to achive a nice pumpkin pie taste, minus too much spiceness or sweetness. Just watch out for the 9%, you may not realize that while drinking it….oh wait, maybe thats where the bite is.


Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale:

Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumkin

  • Brewer: Sam Adams, Boston, MA
  • Style: Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 8.7%

We’re winding down to a close on the pumpkin beer season, and moving towards Winter Lager time.  But we’re not quite finished yet.  Fat Jack is a huge improvement over Sam Adams’ Harvest Pumpkin Ale. This one is big, bold, and full of pumpkin and spice flavors.  This is what Harvest Pumpkin Ale should have been.


Rogue Farms GYO Pumpkin Patch Ale:

Rogue farms pumpkin patch ale


  • Brewer: Rogue; Newport,  OR
  • Style: Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 5.6%

A great example of a full bodied and rich pumpkin ale at a more session-able abv.  A really nice,  sweet sip. And who can resist a 750mL orange bottle?

Jack -O-Shandy Traveler:


  • Brewer: Traveler Beer Company, Burlington, VT
  • Style: Wheat Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 4,4%%

The strong pumpkin and spice flavors belie the relatively low ABV (4.4%).  In fact, the pumpkin pie spices might be a touch overdone here.  Nevertheless, it’s the best of the wheat pumpkin ales I’ve tried this season.



America’s Original Pumpkin Ale:

Buff Bill Americas Original Pumpkin Ale 2

  • Brewer: Buffalo Bill’s Bay Area Brewery; Hayward, CA
  • Style: Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 6%

This particular pumpkin ale has been around since 1985, and may quite literally be America’s original pumpkin ale.  I can’t speak to that, but this drinks incredibly well at only 6% ABV.  Tons of real pumpkin and spice flavors and a satisfying and sweet finish.


Post Road Pumpkin Ale:


  • Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery
  • Style: American Ale
  • ABV: 5%

A sour tasting are mixed with pumpkin?  Big  whiff.   This one misses the mark in a big way.

Bumpkin Ale:

Country Boy Brewing Bumpkin Ale

  • Brewer: Country Boy Brewing
  • Style: Ale
  • ABV: 6.3%

Hoppy and crisp, this one is sweet and refreshing with plenty of snap.


Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale:

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

  • Brewer: Sam Adams
  • Style: American Ale
  • ABV: 5.7%

A little on the weak side in both ABV and flavor.  This one could stand for some stronger pumpkin and spice flavors.  Nevertheless, it is an easy drinker that gets you into the pumpkin ale ballpark, and won’t offend.


Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

  • Brewer: Blue Moon
  • Style: Wheat Ale
  • ABV: 5.7%

As we learned from the Shock Top offering below, Wheat Ales and Pumpkin aren’t the best combination.  This one is too light and sweet on the tongue to really allow the richness of the pumpkin and spices to shine through.


Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale:

KY Pumpkin Barrel Ale

  • Brewer: Alltech
  • Style: Ale
  • ABV: 10%

A surprise of the group, this one has a great nose with tons of pumpkin and cinnamon spice along with an underlying caramel and bourbon sweetness.  The flavors don’t disappoint.  Who knew bourbon, pumpkin and beer could blend so well together?



Pumpking 2

  • Brewer: Southern Tier
  • Style: Imperial Ale
  • ABV: 8.6%

This ale has warm aromas of pumpkin pie and spices with just a touch of light bitterness and hops. On the tongue, it’s malty and sweet with pleasing pumpkin pie and cinnamon flavors. An excellent representation, and a very tasty beer. It was the clear favorite of tastings.




  • Brewer: Southern Tier
  • Style: Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 8.6%

Roasted coffee, pumpkin pie, and spices greet the nose with the taste being underpinned by coffee and pumpkin flavors. While it’s an enjoyable beer, the sweetness seems to overpower the stout, making it slightly less enjoyable than Pumking.


Schlafly Pumpkin Ale:

Schlafly Pumpkin

  • Brewer: Schlafly
  • Style: Pale Ale
  • ABV: 8.0%

Strong pumpkin pie greets the nose with a hint of hoppy snap. The mouth is greeted by nutmeg, pumpkin pie, and cloves along with a pleasant hoppy bitterness. Lighter in body than the Southern Tier offerings, it’s still 8% ABV and is a great drinking pumpkin ale.


Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat:

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

  • Brewer: Anheuser-Busch
  • Style: Belgian Wheat
  • ABV: 5.2%

The most traditional of the pumpkin beers we tried, this is also the lightest in body and packs the least pumpkin flavor. Where the other offerings seem to feature pumpkin flavors, this is a mere nod of the head. The nose is all Belgian Wheat with a hint of pumpkin. The taste doesn’t deviate. The finish is weak and quick. If you don’t mind the slightest whisper of pumpkin and prefer to stay in the realm of safe wheat beers, this is your choice.



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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for, and the President and Chief Blending Officer for Four Gate Whiskey Company. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. He has also been published on He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country, and consulted for multiple national labels. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at

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