Move over Pumpkin Spice Latte, people are falling for a new beverage this Halloween season.
Pumpkin beer is captivating many of Miami’s busiest beer bars with its rich flavors and spices that evoke the feeling you get when the leaves start to change (elsewhere).
“It’s almost as if you have the whole season in a bottle,” said Robert Ferrara, head bartender at The Dutch at the W South Beach. “I’m from up north and I miss fall the most out of all of the seasons.”
This time of year, when Ferrara isn’t mixing imaginative takes on classic cocktails behind the chic bar at The Dutch, he’s out in search of the tastiest pumpkin beers.
He says he found his newest guilty pleasure at Abraxas Lounge in South Beach, a favorite for locals. The front-runner: Imperial Pumking Ale by Southern Tier out of New York. Packed with cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh ginger and vanilla, it literally tastes like you’re eating a fresh pumpkin pie – crust and all.
Unfortunately, not all pumpkin beers are created equal. Pumking happens to be so powerful because it’s made with real pumpkin puree blended into the mash. Others have a lower alcohol content and aren’t as thick, which makes them a safe choice for newbies on the pumpkin beer train.
Shipyard, a well-known brewery in Maine, puts out its Pumpkinhead Ale every year, which is significantly lighter and less overpowering than its heavy counterparts. Ferrera says this beer is just not enough to satisfy his craving, so he cleverly created a “Pumpkin Bomb” to liven things up. He drops a shot of Averna, a sweet Sicilian liqueur with caramel notes, into the pint glass and takes it down at once.
With dozens of labels on the market, there’s something for everyone. However, some of the best-rated and most popular picks among experienced pumpkin beer drinkers include the above-mentioned Pumking, Post Road Pumpkin Ale by Brooklyn Brewery, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, Cigar City Good Gourd, Samuel Adams Fat Jack and Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.
– Galena Mosovich is the lead writer for cocktail culture for The Miami Herald and Miami.com.