Ahh, autumn in Florida. Cooler nights and days that don’t reach the top of the thermometer are accompanied by one of the best beer-drinking seasons of the year: it’s time for the great pumpkin beers!

Pumpkin beer is kind of misunderstood, as many of them either don’t have pumpkin or don’t have enough pumpkin in them to be tasted. The emphasis in these beers is often the combination of spices – reminiscent of those that go into pumpkin pie. If you have never had one of these pumpkin beers before, imagine what pumpkin pie in a glass would taste like, then wake up and go try one! If you have had one, then you undoubtedly have one you like best, or read on and seek out a new favorite.

If you enjoy pumpkin in your coffee, soap, candles, or cheesecake, give these limited, seasonal beers a chance to “wow” you.

Brewing with pumpkins was popular in the times of colonial America, and Brooklyn Brewery’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale is made in the same tradition. The pumpkin and subtle spice character is mild and approachable for those who like to taste pumpkin in beer and maybe drink several pints through the course of Thanksgiving dinner.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale stands as one of the original and still-outstanding pumpkin beers. This beer is made from real pumpkin meat with pie spices, and is perfect for cool autumn nights, jack-o-lantern carving, or meals with friends. A few crowlers of this will add a dose of autumn to any gathering.

Hailing all the way from New England, home of the Headless Horseman himself, comes Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead. This one humble variety has introduced many beer lovers to pumpkin beer; it’s gentle and tender in the nicest way. This staple of pumpkin beer season really highlights the cinnamon and allspice in the custom blend of spices used to make it.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin is what happens when you take everything good about Pumpkinhead and dial it up to 11. Bigger, bolder, more pumpkin-y and equal in taste to about three pieces of pumpkin pie in each glass.

Swamphead Pumpkin Spice Latte is Gainesville’s premiere brewery, taking a Floridian approach to pumpkin beer. If so many people start pumpkin season with pumpkin latte, why not start pumpkin season with a beer version? Swamphead’s PSL is a white stout—light in body and made to resemble its namesake coffee concoction. Pretend it’s a cold-brew blond roast and you might not be able to tell the difference! Try it on draft with a bagel brunch. You can thank us later.

If you haven’t tried Southern Tier PumKing, buy one for the person next to you first, then wait for the pour. PumKing is so aromatic that you can smell it from a few seats down the bar! It’s full of vanilla, cinnamon, and spices. Be careful—at 8.6 percent ABV, one sip and the PumKing has got you!

Cigar City Good Gourd is Florida’s original pumpkin beer—this gourd is, indeed, very good. Have you ever had pumpkin ice cream with vanilla and graham crackers? Me either. But if you ever wanted to know what the beer version would taste like, open a bottle of Good Gourd, or better yet snag a draft pint and have dessert first.

Finally, there’s Southern Tier Rum-Barrel-Aged Pumking. Try it. No, seriously—you’ll thank me later. It’s as mysterious as the original PumKing himself and twice as enticing. If you thought PumKing was potent and delectable, hold on to your cinnamon-sugar-rimmed glasses! This king is more like an emperor—his spell is as enthralling as Halloween night itself: cinnamon, spice, vanilla, coconut, brown sugar, and boozy rum all put a spell on anyone who comes near. Watch the tap list because there is not much of this treat, and it goes quickly once it’s flowing.

Which pumpkin beer sounds like your kind of trick-or-treat? Enjoy your favorite soon—like Florida’s fall weather, these beers are only here for a limited time; they are around barely long enough to get a few tastes and then they are gone! Whether just a few sound good to you or if you just have to try them all, find them on draft as soon as possible. These beers are meant to be enjoyed fresh! As a matter of fact, instead of a store-bought pie or random bottle of wine you are going to regift, being a few crowlers of pumpkin beer to this year’s Halloween party or Thanksgiving table.

For the best beer experience locally, head to downtown Sarasota, right there on Second Street, across from the Whole Food Parking Garage, and stop in at 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottle Shop to find some of these great beers and more. Cheers!

99 Bottles Taproom & Bottle Shop
1445 2nd Street, Sarasota, FL 34236