After years of avoiding the celebrated seasonal favorite, I recently discovered that apparently, I enjoy pumpkin spice… or at least pumpkin ale. Who knew! So to celebrate, I decided to sample a few local varieties, some of which can be found at RI-area breweries or in your favorite liquor store. I’ve managed to taste test a few so far and I’m looking forward to sampling the rest.  

Taproot Brewing Company at Newport Vineyards has a pair of offerings this season. First up, it’s the more traditional “Wicked Squashed” (7.3 ABV), made from pumpkins grown on site. For a really special brew, I’m looking forward to slow sipping the “Imperial Pumpkin,” a 12.0 ABV brew, matured in bourbon barrels for over a year. It’s described as a “rich-bodied beer with big flavors of cinnamon French toast, pumpkin ice cream and brown sugar.” For more, click here.

Cambridge Brewing Company’s “Great Pumpkin Ale” is billed as New England’s first pumpkin ale. I sampled a glass and found it to be quite flavorful, sweetened with cinnamon and allspice. There’s a nice amber hue, and a mellow aftertaste, midway between refreshing and filling. The brew uses locally harvested sugar pumpkins from Lazy Acres farm in Hadley, MA, and has an ABV of 5.5%, slightly lower than similar ales. For more, click here.

Narragansett Brewery has put together a pleasing small batch of pumpkin ale available only in the new Providence brewery. I enjoyed a glass of “Gourd Reaper” (6.2 ABV) with a cinnamon sugar-rimmed glass. The well-balanced ale went down smooth – it’s a tasty treat for the season. Highly recommended if you stop by the brewery. For more, click here.

Smug Brewery’s “Gourd’s Gone Wild” certainly wins the contest for best pumpkin ale name. The beer ain’t too bad either. It tasted a little sweeter than most of the others I sampled, likely due to the “touch of vanilla” added to the brew that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Highly recommended. For details, click here.

Shipyard Brewing Co.’s “Pumpkinhead” (4.5ABV) is a little more like a traditional golden ale. Based in Portland, Maine, the brewery has created a refreshing bottled product that should lead to more widespread appeal. It’s tasted fine, certainly not as rich as some of the others on this list, but lighter and more refreshing. A little more like a traditional golden ale. For more, click here.

Whaler’s Brewery in Kingston has brewed up a popular pumpkin beer sure to pack a punch, at 7.8 % ABV, with “notes of warm pumpkin pie, brown sugar, & cinnamon.” We’ll be sampling this one very soon. For more, click here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines. Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse,"...