We’re barely into September and my daughter is already obsessed with Halloween. Basically, she’s been thinking about the holiday since Easter. Every morning, she tells me how many days are left until the big day. She’s all in this year, determined to be a “vampire princess” even though I keep pushing for the whole family to be Mystery Incorporated from Scooby Doo. My daughter could be Daphne, my son could be Fred (just imagine a six year old in an ascot), my wife can be Velma and I’ll be Shaggy. Alas, my daughter wants no part of it. It’s vampire princess or nothing. Sigh. Apparently, it’s not about me.
The only people more excited about Halloween than my daughter, are America’s craft brewers, who started flooding our stores with pumpkin beers well before Labor Day. Now, I couldn’t fathom drinking a pumpkin beer on a regular basis, but I do believe there is a time and place for a pumpkin brew. When you’re egging your neighbor’s car. Thanksgiving. While escorting your vampire princess daughter to loot the neighborhood…
So I found three pumpkin beers worth checking out. Don’t go crazy with these—if you buy a six pack, find a couple of friends to share the beer with. You don’t want to drink too much pumpkin beer. I imagine the hangover would be similar to that time you went overboard with the rum daiquiris on that cruise. Remember that?
King Don’s Pumpkin Ale
Crack this can and you can smell the pumpkin from across the room. It’s sweet, with plenty of baking spices, so it comes off as more pumpkin pie than straight up pumpkin. It’s creamy and orange in color, so there’s no doubt you’re drinking the season’s favorite fruit here. 5.5% ABV.
Asheville, N.C. (soon, people, soon)
If you thought King Don’s was too pumpkiny, don’t even bother cracking open Pumpkick. New Belgium goes over the top with this beer. Supposedly, NB used cranberry juice during the brewing process to add a bit of tartness, but I can’t find any of it amongst all the pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg swirling around in this devilish brew.
Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter
I don’t typically like porters, but this is my favorite of the three beers on this list. The pumpkin is subtle, and you’ll actually find more notes of chocolate and roasted coffee in this beer than anything else. The pumpkin is there, but it hits you during the aftertaste, and just enough so you know that Boxcarr is a fall seasonal.