Brew Review: Pumpkinhead Ale, Samuel Adams Octoberfest and A Few More Seasonals

By Jonathan McNamara

Ah! Smell that crisp, autumn air! It’s the time of the year that we put our hefeweizens and dust off our appetites for fall seasonal brew.

To help you decide which tasty seasonal to push down your gob, we at New Times carried out a complex experiment utilizing the scientific method, Bunsen burners and a few eye wash stations…ok, we stood around drinking beer. Still, we believe that if you were to carry out a similar experiment (in the safety of your home and away from all car keys) you will reach similar results.

Brew: Pumpkinhead Ale Made by: Shipyard Brewing Co. Tastes: like your mom’s pumpkin pie Price: $1.59

Shipyard Brewing Co. has created a magical concoction whose flavor is instantly seasonal in taste without being over-powered by cloves or cinnamon. We’re looking for a balanced, tasty beer, not Grandma’s potpourri in a bottle.

Though embued with pumpkin essence, Pumpkinhead remains light and subtle enough that this draught should easily be enjoyed bottle for bottle for the whole season.

Brew: Samuel Adams Octoberfest Made by: The Boston Beer Company Tastes: like chewing on batteries. Price: $1.59

As one of my New Times colleagues announced, “this beer would be a lot better without the aluminum additives.” The after taste is horrid; so bad in fact that you’ll reach for the nearest liquid you can get your hands on to wash it away. Too bad the closest liquid is more Samuel Adams Octoberfest.

Brew: Pumpkin Lager Beer Made by: Lakefront Brewing, Inc. Tastes: like Grandma’s potpourri in a bottle. Price: $1.79

Pumpkin Lager Beer tastes so bad only a Glade plug-in could love it.

Brew: Late Harvest Autumn Ale Made by: Red Hook Tastes: forgettable. Price: $1.59

While all in attendance agreed that Late Harvest Autumn Ale has the best bottle/label design, that was about all we had to say about it. It’s certainly not a bad beer, it’s just run of the mill. You could do much worse (see the previous two brews) but with all the other seasonal options, we’ll be steering clear.

Brew: Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale Made by: Blue Moon Brewing Co. Tastes: a bit spicy. Price: $1.39

Harvest Moon is the cheapest of the six seasonal brews we sloshed down our gullets in search of the ideal seasonal. The consensus among the six tasters was that you get what you pay for.

Being an off-shoot of Blue Moon, expectations were high for this brew. What we tasted was disappointment. Harvest Moon does not live up to its indigo brother’s reputation. Like Late Harvest Autumn Ale you could do much worse, but we were hoping for something greater.

Brew: America’s Original Pumpkin Ale Made by: Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Tastes: like your mom’s pumpkin pie after you’ve eaten too much. Price: $1.59

Like Pumpkinhead Ale, America’s Original Pumpkin Ale has a nice pumpkin flavor that adds a dark orange color to the beer. If there were two brews on our list hard to choose between this and Pumpkinhead are it. Ultimately We found America’s Original to be a bit too heavy with a taste too strong for regular consumption during Autumn.

Verdict: After careful consideration, the six of us chose Pumpkinhead Ale as the ideal brew in our taste test. The knock-out combination of a subtle pumpkin flavor mixed into a beer that won’t bloat you like a few bags of “fun size” candy or a few plates of turkey and dressing.

Do you have a favorite fall beer we’ve left out? Drop a comment or two in the box and let us know.

Happy drinking.


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