A New Way to Rate Pumpkin Beers (now in July!)

southampton-pumpkin ale-pumpkin beer-pumpkin

For some, there is Christmas in July.

For me, it’s Thanksgiving. Or at least something close.

As we’ve seen during every change of season in the last few years, brewers are ever more ambitious in their release schedule, which brought Southampton Pumpkin Ale to my local bottle shop in mid-July. Because, you know, farmers are just dying to sell out their robust pumpkin crop in the middle of the summer.

The freshness/timing aspect of all this is entirely separate to the fact that these beers are finally here, let alone that pumpkin season is my favorite time of year – in food, drink and naturally, merriment.

But what is there to say to break down a pumpkin beer that hasn’t already been said?

Caramel, molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves – yes, you’ll find all these descriptors across all pumpkin beers. But for me, the real question is how close does a pumpkin beer taste to my favorite – pumpkin pie? How close does it taste to the holiest of pumpkin beers – Pumking?

That’s why I’ve created a sliding scale chart to rate this year’s class of pumpkin beers, from downright “rotten” to monarch-worthy “Pumking” …

pumpkin pie-pumpkin beer-beer-fall-autumn-pumpkin-full

Each beer will be judged on how many pumpkin pie slices it earns. Instead of writing cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc. over and over this year, I’ll save us both time and focus on where it falls in the spectrum of my chart. I may still offer brief notes, but nothing to bog it down.

With that said, on to this year’s first rating for Southampton‘s Pumpkin Ale out of Southampton, NY. I’m sorry it’s coming in July but that’s the reality of the seasonal beer situation…

Southampton Pumpkin Ale:

pumpkin pie-pumpkin beer-beer-fall-autumn-pumpkin-four

This brew earned four pumpkin pie slices for going just a touch past middle ground to pumpkin pie taste. Plenty of caramel, molasses and pie spices in this one, but the hops keep it from getting too sweet.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

25 thoughts on “A New Way to Rate Pumpkin Beers (now in July!)

  1. Can’t believe the pumpkin/fall beers are coming out already! I feel like summer just started!

    1. It’s getting worse every year! I understand people want to be first, but you can now buy Sam Adams Summer Ale and Oktoberfest at the same time.

  2. You should make a trip to Seattle for Elysian’s annual pumpkin beer festival. So many pumpkin beers! And so much variety, pumpkin sours? Yep. Pumpkin stouts? Sure Thing. Pumpkin beers from breweries from all over the country.

    1. I first became aware if the fest last year and it’s certainly something that would be awesome to attend. IIRC, they typically sell out fairly quickly?

      Last year was also the first time I had Elysian’s pumpkin lineup, which was pretty great.

      1. It does sell out pretty quickly. I have friends at the brewery and probably could get you in one way or another. They have a huge lineup of pumpkin beers, they probably brew around 20 different ones during “pumpkin” season.

  3. I wonder what your assessment of the pumpkin beer put out by Indian Wells Brewery in Indo-Kern , CA would be . I like it .

    1. I’ve never heard of their pumpkin beer. What is it about that brew that you enjoy?

  4. I like your idea for rating the beers.

    I’m right there with you being a pumpkin obsessed fool, but I can’t bring myself to buy any just yet. It’s going to be mid-August before I start collecting bottles.

    1. My first step was admitting I have a problem.

  5. Oh man, this is great! Love the rating system you’ve introduced here.

    I picked up two bottles of Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale while at the brewery a few weeks (!!) ago. Will probably save them until September at the earliest though.

    Look forward to your ratings of more pumpkin beers!

    1. As much as I hate seeing pumpkin beers this early, I will easily admit I’m going to start stocking (and drinking) them soon.

  6. This gets worse every year. Last year I read an interesting piece (somewhere) that it was due to distributor pressure, not sure how true that is.

    In any event, I’m brewing my Pumpking clone this weekend. It will be delicious in a few months.

    1. You’re absolutely right – read the same thing in multiple locations. It was essentially brewers saying they felt pressured to make up market share because they had to be first and distributors who wanted to get them out into the world.

      I can’t recall where I saw it, but I believe I’ve read pumpkin/fall beers were the highest selling seasonal variety, too, which would explain the change in timing in recent years.

      Would love to hear more about your clone. You posting info on it at your site?

      1. Yes, should have it up tomorrow. Been awful lately with the move, but brewed it this weekend. Definitely my favorite.

    1. Thanks! Had to come up with something new for this year.


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