Best Pumpkin Beer: 7 Best Pumpkin Beers That You’ll *Fall* For

The best pumpkin beer doesn’t taste like fresh pumpkin. It tastes like a pumpkin’s vibe. It’s spiced and warm and cozy. There are many, many, many pumpkin beers out there, with local craft breweries hopping on the seasonal train. But only a few are available nationwide. We tried those, and we found the best.

Some people wait for PSLs to hit the menu before donning their UGGs, snuggling into their oversized, Nora Efron movie-inspired oversized sweaters, and officially calling it fall. I wait patiently for the pumpkin beers to make their first appearance. Every year, I get excited when those spooky labels start popping up on liquor store shelves. Every year I get a six-pack. Every year I drink one, maybe two. And every year I shrug and move onto the real beverage of fall: whiskey. 

That’s all to say that I like pumpkin beers, but I haven’t found one that truly captured that essence of fall and had staying power. So, I was psyched to crack open a selection of the most popular pumpkin beer brands available at grocery stores and find the best pumpkin beer for fall—a pumpkin beer that will keep me coming back for more. Luckily, I didn’t just find one best pumpkin beer, I found the seven best pumpkin beers. Here they are.


Elysian The Great Pumpkin

Best of the Best

Elysian The Great Pumpkin Imperial

This is a great pumpkin beer. It smells like bright, vibrant pumpkin and tastes malty and spiced with plenty of nutmeg. It tastes like fall in the Northeast. This is not the best pumpkin beer for chugging, if that’s how you prefer to imbibe your bevies (please don’t do that, please drink your seasonal beers responsibly). It packs a punch at 8.4% ABV and it tastes like it. This is a pumpkin beer for sipping. Kick back in your flannel and enjoy it.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Total Wine

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Best Real Pumpkin

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

I loved this subtly flavored pumpkin beer. Dogfish Head brews this seasonal brown ale with real, honest-to-Hecate pumpkin meat, along with brown sugar and spices. So it’s the best pumpkin beer if you want to drink actual pumpkin beer. It channels that sweet, squash-y flavor, which is complemented by the slightest touch of sweetness from the brown sugar. It finishes in a classically brown ale-y way—just slightly bitter and dry. It tastes as cozy as a leaf pile looks (leaf piles look extremely cozy).

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Elysian Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Beer

Best Stout

Elysian Dark O’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout

Stout lovers, this is the best pumpkin beer for you. It has a lovely spiced aroma and it manages to get those signature bitter stout flavors in while still nodding to some pumpkin notes. The gourd shows itself as hints of acidity, which complement the dark stout’s deep, almost coffee-like quality. “It’s cinnamon-y, but it’s really subtle and nice,” said Sporked managing editor Gwynedd Stuart. “It’s pumpkiny, but not in that wedged-in way. This makes sense.” At 7.5%, it’s a great end-of-the-evening pumpkin beer—something to sip around the campfire.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Total Wine

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Southern Tier Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Best with Dessert

Southern Tier Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout

This is less of a pumpkin beer and more of a pumpkin pie crust beer. It’s bold and vanilla-forward, dark and complex, with the aroma of a fresh-baked graham cracker crust. It’s sweet but finishes with a delicious bitterness that helps balance out the dessert-friendly beer. Even though it’s not the most pumpkin-y beer on this list, this is the best pumpkin beer to pair with dessert at Thanksgiving. And at 8.6%, it’s one of the booziest pumpkin beers on the list.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Total Wine

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin

Best Spicy

New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin

This pumpkin beer isn’t pumpkin spiced. It’s pumpkin spicy. It has serious heat to it. And it doesn’t make sense on paper, but it works! Spicy pumpkin spice! It has a nice, clean, fruity pumpkin flavor that is quickly chased by peppery heat. “It tastes like a crafts store smells in the fall and I absolutely love that,” said Gwynedd. Even though it’s a reasonable 6.4% ABV, you probably can’t drink a lot of these in one sitting, but it’s more than just a gimmick. It’s a great way to shake up your usual pumpkin beer lineup. And if you like spicy beers, this is definitely the best pumpkin beer you can buy.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Total Wine

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Best as Dessert

Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Here’s another pumpkin beer that sits firmly on the dessert side of the best pumpkin beer spectrum. It claims to be pumpkin pie in a glass and, guess what? That’s what it tastes like. It’s like if a slice of pumpkin pie and a cream soda had a baby and that baby was 8.6% alcohol. Unlike its dark and moody brother, Warlock, this imperial pumpkin brew from Southern Tier is all sunshine and sprinkles. If Warlock is a teen on Mischief Night, then Pumking is a golden-curled trick-or-treater politely asking for just one piece of sweet, sweet candy. Personally speaking, though, I couldn’t have more than one. It’s that indulgent. But it’s worth trying.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Total Wine

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Howling Gourds Pumpkin Ale

Best Spiced

Howling Gourds Pumpkin Ale

Trader Joe’s is good at a few things: frozen appetizers, snacks, marinated meat, and beer. Their pumpkin ale not only has adorable packaging (another thing TJ’s excels at) but it also is the best pumpkin beer for those who want a lot of spice in their pumpkin spice. It smells like pumpkin pie and it tastes like nutmeg and cinnamon and allspice. It comes in at 7% ABV, so it’s another sipper. Try this one with a slice of pie or something else sweet to offset the drying spices.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Trader Joe’s

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Other pumpkin beers we tried: Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale, Shipyard Brewing Pumpkin Ale, Saranac Pumpkin, Uinta Pumpkin Ale 

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About the Author

Justine Sterling

Justine Sterling is the editor-in-chief of Sporked. She has been writing about food and beverages for well over a decade and is an avid at-home cook and snacker. Don’t worry, she’s not a food snob. Sure, she loves a fresh-shucked oyster. But she also will leap at whatever new product Reese’s releases and loves a Tostitos Hint of Lime, even if there is no actual lime in the ingredients.

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  • I actually really enjoyed the Sam Adams Jack-O beer. I am not an IPA fan and a good majority of pumpkin beers are of that ilk. Will definitely try Dogfish though. Doesn’t seem like one.

    Reply
  • How many more did you try? There are so damn many of them these days… you could do this every year and never run out.

    Same applies for Xmas beers now.

    Reply
    • What xmas beers do you like? We’re trying to get our list together now!

      Reply
      • Delirium Noel and Ridgeway’s Lump of Coal stout would be my favorite Xmas beers, although the latter is getting hard to find in my neck of the USA.