The changing of the seasons from summer to fall signifies lots of great things to come, like cozy sweaters, pumpkin patches and haunted hay rides. Pumpkin ale is another one of those great things–at least, to some of us. What would seem like an innocuous enough drink to enjoy during the most festive time of the year, up there with apple cider and hot cocoa, is actually about as controversial as pineapple on pizza. You either love it or you hate it, and either way, you’re very vocal about which side you’re on.
But let’s just relax for a moment while we sip on our pumpkin ale, or our pumpkin spice latte, or our warm glass of milk because we hate all things good and fun in the world. (Kidding!) If you’re pro-pumpkin spice, this little round-up of the autumnal brews you can find on the Shore should get you excited for the fall days to come. If you’re anti-pumpkin spice, please don’t send us hate mail! Peppermint season will soon be just around the corner.
Tall Tales • Midnight Pumpkin • 6.2% ABV
This list isn’t in any order other than alphabetical, but Tall Tales had to come first just because I happened to stop by when they were brewing the first Midnight Pumpkin beer of the season.
We were shooting some b-roll for an upcoming video about the tourism and craft beer, and Tall Tales brewer Eric Camper showed us to the back of the brewery where the action happens. “You know what that smell is?” Camper asked. Whatever they were brewing, it was strong, and it smelled delicious. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. “It’s pumpkin,” he finally said, and I replied with an excited “Ohhhhh!”
Midnight Pumpkin is brewed with real pumpkin plus traditional pumpkin pie spices, and is lightly hopped with sterling hops. And, as I saw last week, comes in a festive bottle depicting a Cinderella-but-spooky pumpkin carriage.
3rd Wave • Jack’d Belgian Pumpkin Ale • 6.4%
Jack’d is a Belgian-style brew that’s made with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pumpkin puree and hopped with Cluster and Tettnanger hops. 3rd Wave says it pairs well with turkey and other poultry and root vegetables, but it probably goes just as well with your pumpkin pie or candy corn dessert.
Big Oyster • Shuckin’ Pumpkin • 5.6%
Big Oyster’s fall beer is both a pumpkin and a yam ale, which is pretty unique but also unsurprisingly delicious. Such combinations are perfect for cold October nights and for later in the season, to enjoy with Thanksgiving dinner.
Crooked Hammock • Jawny Appleseed • 5.5%
Jawny Appleseed isn’t technically a pumpkin ale, but it was autumnal enough to make the list and is a great option for when you’re in the mood for something on the fruitier side. The brew combines fresh apple cider from Fifer Orchards with a blend of Pasilla Bajio, Banana and Chiltepin peppers from Frankly Deep, a mid-Atlantic pepper suplier that Crooked Hammock describes best as “a deliciously crisp hybrid with a perfect balance of heat and sweet.”
Dogfish Head • Punkin Ale • 7.0%
I went to the season’s release party for Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, and it did not disappoint. The brew was first released in 1995, so it’s probably older than any other beer on this list, and the recipe is tried and true: a smooth brown ale brewed with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. (Fun fact: this beer premiered at one of Delaware’s annual Punkin Chunkin’ games, where pumpkins are hurled into the sky.)
Evo • Jacques Au Lantern • 8.5%
Evo’s seasonal brew is an unfiltered amber ale that’s made with roasted pumpkin and a variety of spices and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Like most pumpkin ales, Jacques pairs best with poultry and root vegetables, but Evo also lists sharp cheeses, apple crisp, and pumpkin and pecan pies as perfect pairings.
Fin City • Seacret RUMpkin Ale • 7.8%
Fin City’s rumpkin ale is a combination of medium-toasted American oak chips aged in Seacrets Distilling Company’s spiced rum, resulting in a flavor that’s one part smoky vanilla and two parts blackstrap molasses and spice. Also try Fin City’s Cranberry IPA later in the season to bridge the gap between the cold-weather seasons and transition smoothly between holidays.
• If we missed your favorite fall drink, be sure to comment what it is and what makes it so great so other pumpkin ale connoisseurs won’t miss out!