Historically the only pumpkin beer I have actually enjoyed each year is Southern Tier Pumking. This year I haven't had any of it [yet] but I have found two others that shocked me by how good they were. They also served to remind me that just because I generally don't like a style of beer doesn't mean there won't be some brewer(s) out there that will use their creativity and talents to craft something delicious.
The first that captured my attention was Punkuccino from Elysian Brewing. While they utilized usual suspects cinnamon and nutmeg, it was the twist of also using coffee that really made this beer stand out for me. Specifically they added a Stumptown coffee toddy with pumpkin to the mash, kettle and fermenter.
The second made me take notice was The Dapper Skeleton from Burnside Brewing. Here the goodness is the result of a great balance of Cherry wood smoked malt, chilies and cocoa nibs. As with their Sweet Heat, the amount and type of chilies used are just right so that they are present in the beer but compliment instead of overwhelm the other ingredients.
In addition to what's contained in the bottles, both breweries did a great job with the label artwork. I'm hopeful that next year even more brewers will work outside of the standard pumpkin and spice box to create beers that rival these for my attention.
Have you had any particularly outstanding pumpkin beers?