Pumpkin beer is a divider in the beer world as either a seasonal fad drink or a worthy beer style. Some brewers in New Jersey won’t go near the popular beer, while others fully embrace it in all its dark orange glory. While it’s the seasonal pumpkin saturation can be a turn off, you could be missing out on some interesting flavors and crave-worthy concoctions.
These NJ-brewed pumpkin beers will make you rethink your pumpkin aversions or justify your need for everything pumpkin. For availability at bars, restaurants and liquor stores, check Untappd and BeerMenus.
Brewery: Beach Haus
Availability: Available in bottles and growler fills at the tap room (Belmar)
If you’re looking for fall in a bottle, then Pumptoberfest is what you need. This Märzen has the smoothness of a German-styled beer while invigorating your palate with the zippiness of the pumpkin spices. For those who could do without the “pump” part, Beach Haus offers a straight-up traditional Oktoberfest. Everybody wins!
Availability: Available in growler fills at the tap room (Middlesex)
Leave it to the crazy geniuses at Demented to give you a cultural lesson in their seasonal pumpkin offering that’s heavier than your normal pumpkin brew. Pronounced “Sah-ween,” Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It eventually morphed into trick-or-treating, over-the-top costumes and artfully-carved jack o’lanterns as decorations.
Ghost of Pumpkins Passed
Brewery: Departed Soles
Availability: Available in cans and growler fills at the tap room (Jersey City)
One hundred and fifty pounds of pumpkins were sacrificed in the name of good times for Departed Soles’ entry into the pumpkin sweepstakes. The Jersey City brewery is known for their gluten-free offerings, usually substituting sorghum for grains. Thus, this is one of the few gluten-free pumpkin beers on the market. You would never know from its golden orange color and hop-forward aroma.
Clash of the Pumpkins
Availability: Available in growler fills at the tap room (Millville)
No need to watch the Harry Hamlin or Sam Worthington movies to enjoy this pumpkin beer from the titans of Cumberland Co. craft beer. This dark reddish ale has a strong nose of nutmeg and robust flavor that will make you feel like you can conquer the world, or just maintain your sanity while your kids trick-or-treat.
Brewery: Cricket Hill
Availability: Available in bottles and growler fills at the tap room (Fairfield)
When August rolls around and Cricket Hill starts offering their pumpkin ale, you know it’s time to prepare yourself for the “all pumpkin, all the time” onslaught. Although, Cricket Hill was making their pumpkin offering before it became a trendy fall staple. Their pumpkin pie spice blend includes cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg for a festive drinking experience.
Pumpkin Pickin’ Ale
Brewery: Screaming Hill
Availability: Available in cans and growler fills at the tap room (Cream Ridge)
You can’t get more local than the pumpkin beer at Screaming Hill. While a few pumpkin beers on the market use extract or canned pumpkin, they grow, roast and season the pumpkins right on the farm alongside the hops. You can even tour the grounds during the pumpkin picking season. The end result is one of the freshest beers you’ll ever taste.
Brewery: River Horse
Availability: Available in bottles and growler fills at the tap room (Ewing Twp.)
While being one of the more well-known pumpkin beers on the market, it’s also one of the strongest at 8.5%. Using a blend of whole spices and molasses, the River Horse crew crafted a beer that drinks heavily, but has a balance of sweetness and spice. The end result is a crave-worthy beer that will make make your guests remove their masks to enjoy.
Availability: Available in cans and growler fills at the tap room (Mt. Holly)
It only seemed appropriate that a brewery with a witchy name would make a Halloween beer. Categorized as more of a barleywine style, their pumpkin ale uses cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and ginger for a spooky flavor with a heavy mahogany color. With a heavier ABV than your typical ale, this is not your grandma’s pumpkin beer.
Availability: Available in bottles and growler fills at the tap room (Roselle Park)
We’ll leave it to Dave Hoffman of Climax, one of the Godfathers of New Jersey craft beer, to explain that pumpkin beer is one of the few true American beers. “When the colonists came here, they weren’t stupid. They grew pumpkin here to use with their harvested grains to help ferment the beer that would keep for the long winters,” he told us. Climax brews their beer with 120 lbs. of real pumpkin.
Holly Beach Pumpkin Ale
Availability: Available in bottles and growler fills at the tap room (Egg Harbor Twp.)
While we consume pumpkin in many forms — lattes, ice cream, donuts, bread, pizza — it will always be enjoyed best in pie form long after the pumpkin trend becomes passé. Tuckahoe’s version is like a pumpkin pie in a glass with heavy notes of cinnamon, caramel, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, but with a medium malt finish. Definitely make this your post-dessert beer.