Why did I buy so much pumpkin beer? A solution.

Did you get all #pumpkinspicebasic this fall like I did and WAY overbuy on the pumpkin beers? “They said there would be a shortage!” Trust me, I’ve done it as well. I live in a Pumpkinhead hoodie because the logo is sweet, and I’ve bartered with reps at fests with beer from the brewery I was working for to land a Pumpkinhead tee.
Well, if your fridge/garage/basement has a few pumpkin beers kicking around and you’ve kind of moved onto winter warmers: I have a solution for you! If you’ve run the gamut of pumpkin rimmers, pumpkin with vanilla vodka, and so on, try these recipes crafted up by Shipyard using Pumpkinhead, a UK meets USA amber ale that is perfect for the fall with it’s sessionable ABV and lightly spiced flavor.

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137. Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

Pumpkin beers get so much flak. Honestly, I feel like half of the *~haters*~ are just complaining because pumpkin beers are just like, so totally plebeian and an affront to their white whale beer hunting selves. They’re a treat, the equivalent of a lobster dinner in summer or hot chocolate in the winter. Having lived all over the US and overseas I can say that autumn, and Halloween, are such a distinctly New England things that I can’t help but indulge in every aspect of it. Watching Hocus Pocus with a mug of cider and my cat named Binx, reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” carving pumpkins, spending shameless weekends leaf peeping (this weekend I’m going to a giant pumpkin festival), I love it all. Winter is coming, yes, but at least mother nature gives us one hell of a vibrant and burning display of glory before the grey sets in. Continue reading

133. Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin

Come fall, it seems like a lot of people start going on these anti-pumpkin beer rants. Yes, I understand it’s a way for some breweries to turn a quick profit on a seasonal trend, and yes pumpkin beers do tend to saturate the shelves which in turn, makes less room for more traditional styles like märzens.

I’m still going to stand up and say that I like pumpkin beers. A lot. Just as much as I like pumpkin-spiced coffees and buying cheap apple cider and pumpkin-scented Wal-Mart candles so I can feel like I’m turning my shitty apartment into a rustic autumnal homestead when instead probably making it smell like someone dumped a bunch of compost onto a Bath & Body Works factory fire. Pumpkin beers are a flavorful fall treat – the harbingers of my favorite season. So lay off me, pumpkin naysayers; they’ll be gone in a month anyways and you can start complaining about how your winter warmer has too much spice in it.
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75. lakefront pumpkin lager



This is my last pumpkin beer post. This is also my last post from the state of Massachusetts. On Friday, I will become a resident of New Hampshire! All hail the Great White North. Or something like that.

Driving through downtown Dover yesterday, I saw a man walking a goat on a leash. The goat was also wearing a little red visor. This is where I am moving too. It’s all downhill from here, folks. And I couldn’t be more excited.


This is Pumpkin Lager from Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is said to be brewed based on Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for pumpkin beer. They must have had their top marketing people on this one.

It pours a light orange with minimal lacing from a 12 oz. bottle. There’s a very bright and clean aroma; sweet and spicy, full of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

This beer, at 6% alc/vol, starts off with a pleasant caramel malt sweetness, and moves into some toasted grains and a slight grassiness. You can tell that there’s definitely something going on here besides just the spicing. It finishes dry with a hint of pie spice, but gets a little too lager-y for my taste, especially when mixed in with the pumpkin.

Lakefront is better than some pumpkin beers I’ve encountered. It has an easy drinkability and smooth mouthfeel, but is lacking some of the depth that these beers deserve.

And with that, I’ll see you folks in about a week! Going to take some time to settle into the new place and then I’ll be back with all sorts of fun New Hampshire beer stuff.

74. heavy seas the great pumpkin

What a perfect day to write about a member of the Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet. Hurricane Sandy has already ruined my day off by closing the RMV and any other places where I had to run errands AND she cancelled the metal show/costume party Ashleigh and I were going too tonight.

What’s a girl to do with no electricity, a stockpile of beer, and a luchadore outfit? WE WILL SOON FIND OUT.

To quote the Internet: “Hurricane Sandy” sounds like what an Applebee’s bartender calls the lady in a pantsuit drinking chardonnays at 10:30 a.m.”

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin, at 8% alc/vol and bottled in a 22 oz. bomber, pours a clear amber with a two-finger head that quickly falls into a thin layer atop the surface, leaving a clinging layer of foam on the glass.

This has a classic pumpkin beer aroma that I really liked. A creamy vanilla, lightly vegetal, and with a nice malt/pie spice balance. The taste is not too sweet or too boozy. It leaves me once again pretty impressed by the balance. It’s a pumpkin beer that doesn’t make you sick of pumpkin beers, which I find is too often the case. The hops sit in the back, letting the spices speak for themselves; plenty of nutmeg and a great cinnamon kick in the finish. It’s silky smooth with a faint alcohol presence and a squashy aftertaste. I love beers that are able to incorporate that vegetal/pumpkin taste. It makes for a much more authentic experience.

73. samuel adams fat jack double pumpkin

I’m still here, trudging through the pumpkins. Pace is starting to slow down a bit…getting slightly weary, palate is beginning to reject anything with cinnamon, but I carry on! For you. Pour vous…

You will find us giving pumpkins their final send-off back to the hells from whence they came this Saturday at Cambridge Brewing Company’s Great Pumpkin Festival. Over 40 pumpkin beers from breweries all over the country, pumpkin-inspired food, and a ceremonial tapping of a giant pumpkin full of CBC’s Great Pumpkin Ale. I’ll be the one wearing the luchadore mask, scarfing bratwurst.

Here’s another pumpkin beer from Boston’s Sam Adams. This is an imperial version, using 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel, as compared to the 17 pounds in their Harvest Ale. Fat Jack pours a rich garnet with a thin tan head that quickly collapses into a light surface layer. It doesn’t look like your typical pumpkin beer. And I like that. The aroma is full of pumpkin meat, cinnamon, and vanilla. It has as very strong fall spicing smell, but not overly sweet like the Harvest.

I was expecting that imperial bite in the taste but was instead hit with a luscious malt base. On the palate it’s bready, toasted malts, a slight smokiness, and a great squash character; plus that same holiday spicing as the nose, very cider-like. There’s a light booziness and just enough bitterness to give a nice kick. Incredibly smooth and drinkable for an imperial pumpkin, Fat Jack is a great representation of the dark pumpkin style and it’ll definitely be a beer that I pick up again next year.

71. buffalo bills america’s original pumpkin ale

I should have known better with a name like Buffalo Bill’s American Original. I also don’t want to waste too much of my life writing about this, so lemme just tell it to ya straight.

It pours a dark, hazy orange with a thin bubbly head that quickly fades to nothing. Lacing: none. The aroma is your typical pie seasonings plus a slight crust. Most of that sweetness from the nose is gone in the taste. It even fades into a slightly bitter, gross metallic taste. It’s light, watery with a fizzy carbonation and a semi-dry finish. I always thought that adding fresh pumpkin to a beer added some body. Not in this case.

There. That’s it. I’m done.

70. wachusett imperial pumpkin ale

We’re about half-way through October and still cranking out the pumpkin beer reviews. Lets have another one, shall we? I finally found a bottle of Wachusett Imperial Pumpkin Ale, not in Massachusetts as I thought I would, but at Garys Beverages in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. What appears from the outside as a place that only sells bum wine and snuff films, actually had one of the best craft selections I’ve found in the area. Neat.

Pours a very clear “autumnal” orange. The head quickly billows up and then just as quickly, settles down into a thin creamy film atop the beer. Sweet pie spices dominate the aroma; very nutmeg-heavy, as well as cinnamon, allspice and ginger, as well as a light breadiness.

You’ll find a good amount of spicing in this beer, but it’s not overpowering. The taste is actually more light on the spicing, as compared to the nose. This beer screams Imperial Pumpkin. It’s grainy and full of bready malts with a slight yeastiness and a very pronounced alcohol presence. The body is sticky with a lingering boozy finish. Though it is a tad bit light for the big beer flavor.

Overall, I think there are other imperial pumpkins that do it better than Wachusett. Any complexity present definitely suffers as a result of the alcohol content which is very overpowering for the style.

68. southern tier pumking

Ah, could it really be October without a visit from the pumpkin king?

I thought I would have a pumpkin-off; take two pumpkin beers and do a side-by-side comparison, all while watching a Halloween movie. Let’s just say that Southern Tier Pumking trumped everything else that night. Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin tasted like water in comparison, and Silent Night, Bloody Night, a 1973 John Carradine proto-slasher film, just plain sucked.

Pumking pours a light golden hue with a creamy and lasting head, leaving behind copious amounts of striped lacing. The aroma is absolutely intoxicating; bready and full; like a pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream, without all those cloying sugars to distract from the inherent squashiness.

The taste is exactly like the aroma; vegetal and luscious, with a thick malt base and soft pumpkin flavor. A nice hop presence appears in the slightly bitter and drying finish. The body is a bit lighter than what you’d expect. It doesn’t necessarily have that “big beer” thing going on, but if anything, it allows for higher drinkability. Like I said, the malt is definitely there, but at time, gets slightly buried under all of the squash and nutmeg. I am not complaining though. It is flavorful, smooth on the palate, and what I really appreciate is, this is a solid beer that seamlessly incorporates all of the aspects of what a pumpkin beer should be.

Enjoy this as an autumn dessert beer or paired with a holiday dinner. Or just go the Kristie route. Drink in bed and hopefully watch a better horror flick than I did.

65. samuel adams harvest pumpkin ale

I begin my arduous trek into the realm of pumpkin beers with a Massachusetts local; Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale; a 5.7% ale brewed with 17 pounds of pumpkin per barrel, as well as roasted and smoked malts. It pours a deep garnet and produces an incredibly sweet aroma. I felt like I was walking through a harvest festival eating a candied apple.

Though you do get a bit of caramel malt, it seems like there are very little beer flavors going on. There is so much pumpkin pie spice that the malts have to fight for a presence. The body  is slightly thin, but to its advantage, I will say that it is crisp and smooth with some alcohol esters kicking in, in the spicy/sticky finish.

When I started drinking craft beers, pumpkin beers entranced me. I’m a big Halloween buff so I totally adored the overly sweet and over-the-top cinnamon sugar spice of even the lowliest pumpkin beer. I would have really enjoy Sam Adam’s Pumpkin a few years back, but my tastes have changed over the years, and now, even around All Hallows’ Eve, I need more beer than spice, and this beer is definitely lacking that.

15. Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

As the sun sets on the last days of autumn, I bid adieu to my little fall treat, the pumpkin beer. I can faintly recall the excitement evoked by that first glimpse of a smiling orange jack-o-lantern peering out between the Oktoberfests and fall seasonals of whatever fine brew establishment I found myself in. With it comes the vivid memories of autumns pasts, the crunch of fallen leaves, mischievous costumed children . . . um yeah ok, pumpkins are gone. I am fine with it. Here’s to the last one.

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13. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Soooo this blog should probably be re-named to Pumpkin Beer + 2 Girls. To tell you the truth, I’m getting damn well sick of the stuff. I thought I was right when I mentioned in a previous post that I was out of pumpkin beers. Turns out, totally got some more. So pumpkin-ed out. Help…

Thankfully, this is a good one; less a pumpkin beer and more a spicy brown ale with a 7% alc/vol kick. It pours a rich and hazy orange with a thin, bubbly head. The aroma is heavy pumpkin pie spice with alcohol esters.

Biscuit-y and sweet, a perfect relationship between hops and malt help balance out the sweetness, creating a smooth and even flavor. The autumn spices are incredibly fresh-tasting, reminding me of a batch of homemade apple cider.

With some bitter hops before the finish and a spiciness that briefly lingers, everything about this beer comes together in such an ideal way. The smooth finish even masks much of the alcohol.

I give Punkin Ale an A because minus all of the spices, it still has a ton of great characteristics on its own. A solid beer through and through, even without the pumpkin that I am once again, SICK OF.

If anyone wants to send me some glassware that doesn’t have logos on it, I will accept them with open arms. Until then, it’s Cape Cod Athletic Club 1976 – 2006 (ahh the good ol’ days, runnin’ in the seventies).

12. Frogs Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale

Diesel and his beer

Frogs Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, 8.4% alc/vol, brewed by Hoppin Frog in Ohio, is sadly one of the last pumpkin beers in my stash this year. One thing I love about their web site is that it lists food and cheese pairings that you should try with each of their beers and I wish more places did this. It comes in a 22 oz bottle only, and pours with no head whatsoever. It smells like cinnamon, the malt odor is a bready one, clove, pumpkin, and nutmeg to name a few of the more major players.

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9. CBC pumpkin ale fest

Total Electric Wizard weather the day of this fest. Dismal, damp, bleak, and an hour plus line just to get inside because of the one-in, one-out policy. If the girl who was dressed up as a French stereotype reads this, we wanted to find you and bludgeon you with your baguette once we got inside because you thought it was, “oh so clever” to have your man-friend stand in line, while you and your horde of ladyfriends sat inside a nearby pub, nice and warm, until you all flocked to join him when he was up at the admission table. Seriously, all of the cutters were these kids in elementary school:

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8. Wolavers Pumpkin Ale

Hey guys. My name is Kristie. I like beer too. I LIKE BEER TOO. LISTEN TO ME BEER TALK ABOUT NOW HEY.

Wolavers Organics. A subsidiary of Otter Creek Brewing out of Middlebury, Vermont. I’ve always been a fan. Wolavers was actually one of the first craft beers I ever tried. The fact that it was organic too pretty much made my dumpster diving, not voting nor showering 16-year old loins quiver.

As for Wolavers Pumpkin Ale however, twas hardly quiver-worthy. Made with organic Vermont pumpkins, this brew looks organic, with its hazy amber brilliance. It smells organic; sweet, rich pumpkin wafting through a cornucopia of fall spices. Sadly though, its taste is not as robust as its other elements. Light amounts of flavors such as cloves, nutmeg and caramel blend into the 5.3% alc/vol ale, making for a mild and well-balanced brew. I did get a bit of an off-putting metallic taste that leads into a slick and slightly bitter finish.

Essentially, Wolavers Pumpkin Ale is just a little too light to satisfy that craving for a rustic and warming autumn beer. It gets a… B-.

Not sure how many more pumpkin beers are kicking around in my stash. We may be coming to an end. But that only means that I get to move onto winter seasonals! Porters and stouts, huzzah! Until then.