Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
BeerAdvocate rating: 88 of 100
RateBeer rating: 96 of 100
Perhaps the heaviest hitter out of Easton, Pa., since Larry Holmes, Weyerbacher loads up its imperial pumpkin with caramel and spice before whacking drinkers with 8% ABV.
Weyerbacher's pumpkin is a big favorite around the Delaware River this time of year largely because of its caramel sweetness and hints of cardamom and clove. Generous portions of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg mask what's essentially a pumpkin witbier, but that mix of simple sweetness and complex spice keeps it in demand from Labor Day through Thanksgiving.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
BeerAdvocate rating: 88 out of 100
RateBeer rating: 90 of 100
It's only a four-pack, but it succeeds as a pumpkin ale better than most six-packs.
Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale dates back back to 1994, when founder Sam Calagione took his spiced pumpkin homebrew to Delaware's Punkin Chunkin festival six months before Dogfish Head opened for business. The 7% ABV has been brewed every fall since and derives much of its alcohol power from from organic brown sugar. Dogfish Head throws in pumpkin meat and ground co-op-grown spices such as cinnamon and allspice during the boil to give it just the right balance of sugar and spice.Punkin rolls out relatively late, on Sept. 1, but is available only for as long as the batch last. Without fail, the four-packs are among the first pumpkin ales to disappear before November. Southern Tier Pumking
BeerAdvocate rating: 90 of 100
RateBeer rating: 98 of 100
Pumking puts a nice little halloween costume on its potent brew, but there's a bit of a trick to this treat. It's very potent at 8.6% ABV, but little about its flavor suggests alcohol. It's a dark orange beer that smells like a pumpkin scone, tastes like pumpkin pie filling at the beginning and finishes like a cinnamon-and-sugar milkshake. It's also extremely popular, with a Southern Tier spokesman saying sales have increased 50% to 80% since its debut. There's a rare oak-barrel version that may require a trip to Southern Tier's brewpub, but anyone who gets their hands on a 22-ounce bottle of the original recipe Pumking is in for a warm fall evening. Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale
BeerAdvocate rating: 91 of 100
RateBeer rating: 98 of 100
If Tampa, Fla., isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of changing seasons, fall foliage and pumpkins, you haven't had this beer. Cigar City Brewing isn't letting its warm Gulf climate and general lack of crisp fall air keep it from brewing one of the best fall brews in the land. Using Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg to spice up its subtle pumpkin flavor, Good Gourd packs a wallop at 8.5% alcohol by volume. The 750-milliliter wine-style gives drinkers fair warning, but a snifter of Good Gourd smells heavenly and finishes with a creamy smoothness that belies its imperial caliber. It's a nice balance for a style and brewery defined by their idiosyncrasies and extremes.
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