Top 10 Beers to Drink on Halloween

Other than eating half of it, what are you planning on doing while handing out Halloween candy? Hopefully you’re planning on scaring the crap out of kids. Or maybe popping in your favorite scary movie. Regardless, why not do that while drinking a seasonal brew?

I’ve sampled each of the beers listed (and then some) to create a lineup of the top ten beers to drink on Halloween. Rather than ranking them, I put them into my own categories in order for you to determine which would be your best pick. I suggest picking two (or three) solid choices that you know you will like. Then, take a risk and try something new! On to the research:

Sweetest Pumpkin Beer: Tommyknocker Brewery’s “Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale”

ABV: 5%

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top. That pretty much sums up this one. It smells like pumpkin pie and tastes like pumpkin pie. This is not for those out there that don’t enjoy sweets, particularly sweet beers. But for those who do, try it out. It’s a great dessert beer. It is medium bodied and has more of a sweet pumpkin taste than the spice taste that most pumpkin beers do. It’s a crisp, clear brew that’s easy (and sweet) drinking.

Spiciest Pumpkin Beer: Sam Adams Fat Jack Pumpkin Ale

ABV: 8.5%

You’ve heard about this one before, but trust me, it’s got all you want for a cool fall night. The brew offers a warming feeling with every sip–the same feeling in your stomach you get from a sip of Jack Daniels—while also delivering the sweet taste of pumpkin. You can taste the spices of cinnamon, ginger, and even the allspice together with pumpkin.

“Tastes Most Like Pumpkin” Beer: Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumking Ale

ABV: 8.6%

This is a full-bodied brew that will leave you satisfied. It has a smooth pour with a thick creamy head. It smells like pumpkin pie, butternut squash soup, and sweet potato casserole all together. I know it sounds a little weir, but it would make more sense if you took a wiff yourself. The flavor is somewhere in-between pumpkin pie and a pumpkin bisque. This isn’t a session beer, but it is very smooth and would be great to drink while waiting around to scare the trick-or-treaters.

Lightest Pumpkin Ale: Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

ABV: 5.1%

You don’t have to be a huge fan of pumpkin to enjoy a pumpkin brew. Shipyard’s version of a pumpkin ale includes just a subtle taste of pumpkin. It has the typical taste of a wheat beer, which makes it a little sweeter than other beers. But then it finishes with a mixture of pumpkin and spice taste that will remind you of pumpkin pie.

Best Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Weyerbacher Imperial’s Pumpkin Ale

ABV: 8%

Basically, imperial means that this is an “ultra” version of a typical pumpkin beer.  That means there is more pumpkin and more malt than usual. It is no coincidence that Weyerbacher won a bronze medal for this brew. The beer has a robust flavor of caramel malts and ends with a punch of pumpkin. It’s a stronger beer—a few of these and you’ll be feeling it.

Sweetest Oktoberfest: Sam Adams Octoberfest

ABV: 5.3%

Oktoberfest brews (at least in America) are known for their dark amber/caramel color and malty flavor. The Sam Adams Octoberfest follows with the same color, and a light aroma of toasted malts. The taste of the beer is sweet, with a light bitterness that comes through from the noble hops used. Do I need to go further? Who really hasn’t had a Sam Adams Octoberfest before?

Heartiest Oktoberfest: Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen

ABV: 5.3%

I love the name. Sure, it’s a little corny, but I embrace it. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to call this the spiciest or heartiest.  The brew still has the sweetness of a typical Oktoberfest beer. However, it also balances out with the herbal and spicy flavor. The hops don’t just add bitterness, but they add an earthy flavor that complements the toasted maltiness of the beer. Both the sweetness of the malts and the herbs and spices are balanced while providing a hearty and full feeling in the end.

Most Original Oktoberfest: Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier

ABV: 5.3%

Most original as in – comes from the original Oktoberfest in Germany. This is a German brew best served in a stein. It’s a marzen, which is a pale lager apparently originating from Bavaria. The Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen provides a nice thick head with good carbonation. The beer has toasted malts similar to other Octoberfest biers, giving it the sweet taste. More importantly, this brew is lighter, which makes it much easier to down several pints in one sitting. As ML and I learned in Mifflinburg, this is a matter of fact. Keep this in mind as you select your brew of choice. Prost!

Best “Festival” Beer: Victory Festbier

ABV: 5.6%

Yes, this is really an Oktoberfest-style brew. But for the sake of giving you more than one option of beer, I wanted to open your eyes to this award-winning brew. And if challenged, I can add several other beers to the “festival” category. The Festbier is different from the others in that the hops are very noticeable. While you taste the malts through the entire beer, you also taste a strong bitterness—a good bitterness, which comes out in the end with herbal and earthy notes.

Best “Harvest” Beer: Ommegang Scyth & Sickle

Again, I know that this is really an Oktoberfest style. However, it’s one that you have to try so I’ve created the harvest category. And yes, I can name other members of the category if you have a problem. The aroma of this actually does make you feel like you are on the farm—you can smell the roasted malts, giving it a kind of bread-like aroma, some cinnamon, and even a little fruityness. A medium bodied beer, the Scyth & Sickle showcases the sweet flavors of the wheat (pear/apple taste), finishes with the rye (bit of a peppery hint) and the oats fill out the beer and give it a smooth, creamy taste. Finally—they found hops that add spice and some citrusy notes to complete this beer. I can picture myself sitting on my farmer-friend’s porch drinking this beer. You must try this before it is “out of season.” …And you know how I feel about limited time offers.

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One comment

  • Mike October 31, 2013  

    FYI: Scythe has an ‘e’ at the end.

    Also, the best Harvest Ale is Founder’s Harvest Ale.

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