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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Pumpkin Beers: 5 to Try

As seasonal beers go, pumpkin ales sometimes get a bum wrap for being, well, too pumpkiny. But not all pumpkin beers are alike, and across the country, breweries have been steadily improving on the centuries-old style by experimenting with different hops, malts and, of course, ways of incorporating pumpkin into the mix. Here are five of our current favorites.

Avery Rumpkin
This unusual take on a pumpkin beer ages in rum barrels before bottling. In less skilled hands, this could make the beer a bit overwhelming, but we find its heft and complexity downright addictive. Rum’s richness permeates the brew, giving it a caramel sweetness and bitter, dark cocoa finish that complements the more traditional pumpkin beer elements of autumn and winter spice. Enjoy with caution—at 18% ABV, these are some serious suds.

Dogfish Punkin
We’ve been fans of this seasonal release from Dogfish for a while, and can you blame us? Crisp and refreshing, with a light-handed approach to pumpkin and spice, this riff on traditional brown ale has everything you’d want from a pumpkin ale. ABV: 7%

Elysian Night Owl
Another pumpkin brew that keeps us coming back year after year, Elysian’s Night Owl bursts with sweetly spiced pumpkin pie flavors. The finish is smooth and benefits from the combo of roasted and fermented pumpkin and toasted pumpkin seeds. ABV: 5.9%

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
You won’t be lead astray by this glowing, orange-hued beer. It’s super-tart with a light kiss of ginger and clove on the finish. Not your average pumpkin ale. ABV: 8%

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
The brewers at Smuttynose took inspiration from their suds-loving forbearers, brewers in colonial America who turned to local ingredients like squash (or, in this case, pumpkin) to extend their limited supply of imported malt. The resulting beer is nice and hoppy with a pumpkin bread-like quality on the finish. The IPA-lovers pumpkin beer. ABV: 5.8 %

photo: ©iStockphoto.com/nashvilledino2