Beer Brands Are Getting A Head Start On Pumpkin Spice Season

To entice consumers to shop early and often, manufacturers and retailers have joined forces to push the release of seasonal items earlier each year. Amazon had us shopping for Christmas in July with its Prime Day sales, and now we're expected to welcome pumpkin spice while much of the world is experiencing the hottest days ever recorded. Surely this is too early for even devoted PSL fans — that's short for pumpkin spice latte, one of Starbucks' notorious flavored lattes.

Among the over 2,000 pumpkin-flavored beers and ciders sold in the U.S.,1,800 are produced domestically from small craft breweries like Bison Pumpkin Ale to more prominent national brands. Marketed as the "Perfect Fall Beer," Samuel Adams is releasing its Jack-O Pumpkin Ale in August 2023 instead of September this year. 

With limited availability, its shandy-style beer will be sold in 12-ounce bottles in 6- and 12-packs, the Sweater Weather Variety Pack, and on draught until October (actual sweater weather). Described as a medium amber beer with seasonal spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg, Jack-O Pumpkin Ale is branded as something to look forward to as we transition into cooler autumn nights.

Dogfish Head is keeping in step with the trend, launching its pumpkin-flavored brew, Punkin Ale, in August, just as it did in 2022. This full-bodied medium amber beer uses real pumpkin and brown sugar with a "lingering spices and cinnamon tingle." Dogfish recommends enjoying its seasonal brew with turkey and stuffing, a festive meal in August. Punkin Ale will be available from August through November at participating retailers.

Pumpkin spice PSA

Like it or not, consumers have more pumpkin-spiced beer options than ever with innovative packaging and witty names. America's pumpkin spice obsession wasn't lost on Saturday Night Live when Bill Burr hilariously starred in a Samuel Adams' Jack-O Pumpkin Ale skit in 2020, which is clearly not made for every Bostonian. 

Unlike Dogfish's Punkin Ale (which has 7% ABV), Samuel Adam's Jack-O Pumpkin Ale is lighter at 4.4% ABV. Some reviews have called Jack-O Pumpkin Ale too sweet; others complained that the flavor profile changed as it got more popular. Still, if you're like many others and can't wait for its return, Samuel Adams Taprooms in Boston and Cincinnati offer specialty beers before they are available nationally. Check the website for what's on tap. 

First released in 1995, Punkin Ale was named after southern Delaware's wild Punkin Chunkin event — where contestants compete by hurling pumpkins from medieval-looking contraptions with names like "Big 10 Inch" and "Chunk Norris." A 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles retails for $13.99, depending on location.

If you're looking for more pumpkin spice options, try Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale or Two Roads Roadsmary's Baby, which is aged in rum barrels to add an oaky complexity to its pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla-flavored beer. It's also available in August. 

Shipyard suggests serving Pumpkinhead Ale in a cinnamon-sugar-rimmed glass accompanied by a shot of spiced rum or vanilla vodka. It's available in 6- and 12-pack cans and bottles and kegs. It hasn't announced its release date yet.