The weather has been rather sketchy lately here in northern Virginia…more rain than we usually have in the fall. Typically my husband and I do our pumpkin beer tasting outside by a fire on a Friday or Saturday night. We’ve also had crazy schedules. So instead of holding off any longer, we decided to try some of the pumpkin beers we picked up a few weeks ago while watching Sunday evening football. (As a side note: There were so many interesting games in week 6! Did the Cowboys really beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks…IN SEATTLE??? And the Giants’ huge loss to the Eagles along with Cruz leaving the game with a serious injury was pretty dramatic.)

Here are my notes on eight different beers in the order of our tasting. I might have tried a few more had it not been a Sunday evening, but after about the fifth one I knew I needed to limit the number we opened. I also want to point out that I am not an expert by any means. We probably commit the cardinal sin of not drinking these in a specific order, but…whatever. That’s part of the fun.

  • Terrapin Pumpkinfest (Athens, GA): fruity aroma, medium color, fizzy. Not real hoppy (it’s a lager), some spices but not overwhelming. Good, easy-drinking beer that would work well with a hearty/oily fish, pizza or stew. I can see someone with a preference for lighter pilsner-styled beers liking this one the best out of all we tried. It was also a good one to start off the night. 6.1% APV
  • Long Trail Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale (Bridgewater Corners, VT): not much of a smell when it was ice cold and poured, light amber color. Mild, clean taste. However…I don’t taste much fruit. A little bit of hops…nice as an ale. I prefer a bit more pumpkin taste. (Note: more fruit evident as it sat in the glass and a tad sweet. Like it better). Good. I’d like to try it with grilled salmon. 5.5% ABV
  • Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Boston, MA): deeper amber color, caramel and spices at the back end. A bit more hearty and hoppy than the first two. Pretty good. Bet it would be really good with a sweet and tangy sauce on ribs. (I realize this is more of a “mainstream” company, but I’m originally from New England and have never tried Sam Adams’ pumpkin before.) 5.7% APV
  • Flying Dog “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Frederick, MD): dark, opaque color. Bold on the front, bitter on the back end. Oh…and higher alcohol content. Too full body for me (at least to just sip as I watch football…which I’m doing now). Might like it better with chili that had either cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder in it. Heavier than I prefer. 9% APV
  • Uinta Brewing Co. Punk’n/Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Salt Lake City, UT): kind of a cloudy amber color. Fruity aroma…fruity taste. Really nice, easy-drinking ale. No hoppy or bitter after taste. One of my favorites. Not a lot of spices, either. I would try with a turkey burger or something mild because I liked the fruit flavor. 5% ABV
  • Starr Hill Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter (Charlottesville, VA): dark/opaque black color. Smooth tasting. Dark and fruity (and next time I will let it warm up a bit. My bad to ice it so much). I think grilled pork chops would complement this well. 4.7% ABV
  • Anderson Valley Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale (Boonville, CA): dark copper color, thick-looking. Nice fruity aroma. Not as heavy as it looks with a smooth finish. I think I could drink one…maybe two, and it would be good with smoky meats or a creamy-textured cheese.  6% APV
  • Red Hook “Out of Your Gourd” Pumpkin Porter (NH | WA): dark brown, fruity aroma. Rich taste and a subtle smoothness (found out there is a touch of maple syrup added during fermentation). Glad I let this one sit a bit, too, as it improved the taste. Another one I would try with wings…or a big old turkey leg. This is also another brewery that isn’t exactly a small, craft business, but I wanted to try it. 5.8% APV

Let me know if you try any of these or any other pumpkin beers and pass along your thoughts.