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The Great Pumpkin Beer Taste-off

Posted by Meghan Guarino on October 30, 2015

In Beer

Fall is in full swing and with Halloween literally right around the corner you can find pumpkin everywhere. From pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin pie to my personal favorite, pumpkin beer! Unlike a few years ago when pumpkin beer was a strictly a run-of-the-mill "pumpkin ale," there are now pumpkin stouts, pumpkin shandies and even pumpkin IPAs. There really is a pumpkin beer for everyone. With all of these new options I decided to try out a few pumpkin beers that might not be your "everyday" pumpkin ale and share my findings with you.


I only scratched the surface of the different pumpkin beers out there so just because one of these doesn't sound like your "cup of tea" (or pint of beer) don't give up! If you're unsure of what you might like you can always do what I did and stop in your local ABC and do the mix and match 6-pack. This allows you to choose 6 different pumpkin beers (or any standard 12-oz beer) so you don't have to commit to just one and you get to try a bunch! So here we are, in no particular order, the pumpkin beers and my take on them:

1. Uinta Punk'N: With 5% ABV this was pretty on par with a regular craft beer. The nose was definitely a strong pumpkin smell with a hint of spice. The taste was more of a light pumpkin, with noticeable spice, and somewhat of an earthy flavor with a strong malt presence. It had a bit of a hoppy finish but was still easy to drink.

2. Johnny Rails Pumpkin Ale: This one came in at a 6.5% ABV and is a blonde-based ale, so it was lighter than some of the others but was a typical pumpkin ale. Although it had a slight hint of pumpkin on the nose, it had a strong pumpkin flavor that was slightly spicy. All around this beer was really smooth and light, definitely easy to drink.


3. McKenzie's Hard Cider Pumpkin Jack: This is completely different from the other pumpkin beers I tried since it's actually a cider. With 5% ABV it's pretty average for a cider and it definitely had the style's typical appearance in a glass. This cider definitely has a pumpkin pie flavor instead of the straight pumpkin or spices you got with most of the other beers. It had a smooth, mild finish but is very sweet. Definitely the closest thing you can get to drinking your dessert!

4. Rivertown Brewing Pumpkin Autumn Ale Spiced Beer: This beer has a 5.2% ABV so it's about the same as an average beer. At first I thought it tasted like a lighter Oktoberfest beer but after a few sips it started tasting more like a lightly spiced water than anything. The pumpkin flavor was very light and even the spices were hard to distinguish. Definitely the lightest of the beers I tried, it was very easy to drink but didn't have a lot to remember it by.

5. Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale: At 10% ABV this was by far the biggest of the beers I tried and you could immediately taste it on the first sip. It's definitely a low pumpkin, low spice flavor but you do get the spicy, pumpkin aroma with hints of oak. The bourbon taste was present with a drier finish but not overwhelming; although I will say the warmer it got the more pronounced the bourbon taste became.


6. Traveler Jack-O-Traveler Pumpkin Shandy: When you think of shandies you think of summer, so I was definitely curious about how this was going to taste. At 4.4% ABV it was on the lower alcohol level but one of the sweetest as well. You could immediately tell this was a shandy and not your typical ale. It starts sweet but you can taste the pumpkin and spices with a little hint of lemon.

Pamela Runsick, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits digital marketing manager

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