Ahhh, autumn. The satisfying crunch of leaves under your favorite boots that you’ve missed wearing all summer. The existential crises that result from seeing literal death all around you. And, of course, the influx of pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING. Your local bodega may have been stocking pumpkin beers since your last few summer Fridays, but it’s finally seasonally appropriate to indulge. Like it or not, autumn is here to stay (for the next 3-4 weeks until we enter the next ice age that will last for goddamn-ever-ugggghh-winter-you-are-the-WORST), so it means that pumpkin beer is too.
There has been an explosion of pumpkin beers in the last couple years, so to determine which (if any — ed.) one was worth your hard-earned drinking dollars, we gathered a group of 11 beer experts, appreciators and self-proclaimed PSL-loving #basic bitches to test seventeen of these autumnal brews we rounded up at Prospect Heights Beer Works, the NSA Supermarket on Washington Avenue, Covenhoven and the Park Place Deli. In a blind taste test, we rated the beers on a 1-5 scale by “pumpkiny-ness,” overall taste and drinkability. Here are our findings.
Heavy Seas – The Great Pumpkin.
Pumpkinyness score: 3.86 Overall score: 3.67
10% ABV, $9.99/22 oz. bottle at Beer Works
This brew boasted the highest overall score AND the highest rating for “pumpkiny-ness.” It’s a bold, boozy, well balanced beer that elicited some very, ehrm, sensual reactions from our panel.
Kelsey: Makes me want to kiss someone.
Pat: Has a mysterious darkness that I want more of.
Cat: Boozy as fuck, it’s about time!
Dave: Smells like a science experiment, tastes like soap. Fuck you, soap beer.
Cat: Is this beer? Or did they push suds from the brewery floor into a urinal?
Cindie: *Physically gagged*
THE SECOND BEST EVEN THOUGH IT DIDN’T REALLY TASTE LIKE PUMPKIN
Elysian – Punkuccino
Pumpkinyness score: 2.6 Overall score: 3.53
5% ABV, $11/22 oz. bottle at Coven Hoven
Made with a shot of Stumptown coffee in every pint, this ale everything a Starbucks #PSL should be.
Nick: Tastes like coffe, looks like a breeding ground for mosquitos, but delicious.
James: I feel caffeinated!
Cat: This one is so obviously better than anything.
Nick: Holy pumpkin, Batman!
James: Nice cinnamon aftertaste, delicious!
Cat: This one has a lot of flavor. *drew a little pumpkin*
Dave: I’ll fucks with it.
Amber: I’d drink a whole glass of this. Or three.
Joanna: I want to drink this at Thanksgiving.
Dave: I’d drink a bunch of these.
Cat: Creamy at the backend, THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.
THE ALMOST SHOCKINGLY AVERAGE
Pat: It’s fine.
Joanna: I keep drinking it, but I don’t know why…
Dave: This is the most average of pumpkin beers, which is disappointing in its own way.
Pat: Tastes like flavor added, not true pumpkin.
James: Feed this to your enemies.
Joanna: The smell reminds me of Lunchables pizza.
Maddie: Everything tastes like pennies. I think I have a cold?
Maddie: Dangerously easy to drink.
James: Clovey and tasty.
THE MOST POLARIZING
Southern Tier – Pumking
Pumpkinyness score: 3.85 Overall score: 3.04
8.6% ABV, $7.99/22 oz. bottle at Beer Works
Our tasters either loved or hated the intense pumpkin flavor of this decadent brew, but most agreed that just one will do.
Amber: I’m starting to think that pumpkin beers in general have bad drinkability.
Maddie: Hello old friend, I love you, yes I do.
Joanna: Intensely floral, in the worst way possible.
Almanac – Dark Pumpkin Sour
Pumpkinyness score: 1.45 Overall score: 2.66
7% ABV $12.99/12oz. bottle at Beer Works
This beer got mostly glowing remarks, despite a lack of pumpkin flavor, but some of our tasters really REALLY don’t like sour beers.
Nick: If I could pry my lips out of this pucker, I’d ask for another.
Cat: Sour sex.
Amber: I wish you could see my face right now. I am not the biggest fan of this. So sour.
Cindie: The Bud Light of Pumpkin Beers? I’d be sad if ordered this in a bar.
Kelsey: Not much going on here. Blue Moon?
Cindie: No strong feelings. The Cincinatti Bengals of pumpkin beer.
James: Not very pumkiny
THE ONE THAT BROUGHT OUT OUR INNER BRO
Nick: Something about this beer gave me a strong desire to chug.
Kelsey: I would play beer pong with this beer.
THE BEST PUN OF THE DAY
Cindie: Not a lot of pumpkin here. It’s a good beer, but its not very gourd.