8 Ways to Improve Your Consumption of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

The coming of mid-August inevitably ushers in the advent of Fall flavors and pumpkin spiced this and that. Samuel Adams has traded in their lemon-hinted Summer Ale for the fuller bodied Oktoberfest and the ubiquitous Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale has already hit the shelves.

Beer for Daddy - Shipyard Pumpkinhead

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale has long been one of my favorite Fall beers. It’s certainly not the best pumpkin beer out there (that’s another list for another day), but it is by far the most popular and is widely available on draft at a great number of places. One of the many benefits of wide availability and prevalence on draft is the growing adaptability of the brew.

Even if you’re just at home with a bunch of bottled brews, layer some Pumpkinhead with other beers or spirits, mix up different garnishes, or anything else you might think of. You don’t just have to go in for the 6- or 12-pack bottles when it comes to Pumpkinhead. Mix it up at home or check out local restaurants and bars to see what they might be offering. Here are some awesome ideas you can test out or possibly find at your local watering hole:

The Spicy Pumpkin

More commonly referred to as…Cinnamon-Sugar on the rim!


This one probably comes as no surprise. If you know of a restaurant that serves Shipyard Pumpkinhead — even if it’s only by the bottle — then they no doubt garnish it with a cinnamon-sugar rim (or perhaps even cinnamon and brown sugar rim). The spices complement the flavors wonderfully well, adding a nice touch of sweetness to the Fall spices already within the brew. It’s easy enough to do; the process is identical to salting the rim for a margarita. Wet the rim of the glass with warm water, apple juice, some meat from an orange, or anything really. If you’re feeling REALLY dangerous, then track down some Pumpkin Butter (yum…) to moisten the rim. Heck, vanilla vodka might even be great.

Whatever you choose, pour out your spices in a small plate or bowl and just dab your glass in it.

To really spice things up? Mix up the spice ingredients. You’ll definitely want to use some kind of sugar in there, be it brown or regular granulated. Cinnamon is the standard go-to, but general Pumpkin Pie Spice also suits it quite well. Most stores sell Pumpkin Pie Spice in a container, but if you want to strip it down to the base ingredients, your average Pumpkin Pie Spice includes: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Cinnamon and Nutmeg are the real important ones here, but any variation will surely be delicious!

Pumpkin Cider

Simple and obvious! Mix together some lighter cider, perhaps even Woodchuck Pear Cider, with Pumpkinhead for a light, fruity, and sweet addition to the pumpkin spices.

The Vanilla Pumpkin

Pumpkinhead & Vanilla Vodka


Photo Credit: Jacki Morisi of Boston.com

This one’s really self-explanatory: toss some Vanilla Vodka in with your Pumpkinhead. Feel free to combine with the rimmer we’ve previously talked about. I have no idea what’s going on with the rim in the picture, but it’s probably delicious. Amounts can vary: one shot, two shots, a big ole pour? It’s up to you. Any brand of vodka or pumpkin ale will do!

Similar (and much improved) variations substitute in Whipped Cream Vodka, of which Pinnacle’s is perhaps the best.

The Pumpkin Captain

Pumpkinhead & Captain Morgan

It’s no mystery that the dark, mysterious flavors of Captain Morgan complement Pumpkinhead really well.

Much like with the Vanilla vodka, the portions are completely up to you. This one is perhaps the best simple cocktail mixer of the bunch.

One of my favorite Fall beverages is tossing Captain Morgan in some cold, non-alcoholic apple cider. Do that with some Shipyard Pumpkinhead, and you’ve basically got that amazing Pumpkin Juice everybody’s always raving about at Hogwarts.

The Great Pumpkin

Derived from the bar PDT’s cocktail in NYC (pdtnyc.com)

Their recipe calls for Southampton Pumpkin Ale, Rittenhouse Bonded Rye, Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, grade B maple syrup and a whole egg, garnished with nutmeg. Such a fancypants concoction really isn’t that doable in the average home bar, so unless you’re in the mood to hoof it out to the actual PDT in NYC, then try this variation:

Shipyard Pumpkin Ale, Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Apple Brandy, and Maple Syrup with a touch of cream or milk. Heck, you could even ditch the brandy if you wanted to. Don’t even bother with a whole egg, because let’s be real: that’s a bit pretentious and nasty.

The Headless Horseman

Shipyard Pumpkinhead & Guinness


In this autumnal variation of the infamous Black and Tan, the simple switch is to sub out the Bass Ale for Pumpkinhead. Some places, like Providence, RI’s Snookers, have been known to call this the “Headless Horseman” which is odd, considering you wind up getting a lot of head and the pumpkin is on the bottom instead of the top…but anyway.

You can vary the proportions depending on your preference, but you always want to pour 1/2 to 2/3 of the glass as Pumpkinhead and then slow drizzle the Guinness floater so it stays on top and doesn’t mix right away. The professionals will pour onto a spoon and let it drip down, but it can be done without. When done correctly, it will look just like the picture you see above.

Rest assured: this tastes AMAZING and stands as perhaps my favorite variation of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale.

Many at home will make this combo using the Shipyard Smash Pumpkinhead, but a restaurant will typically serve it with the regular and Guinness, as both are more likely to be on draft.

The Creamy Gourd (Bomb!?)

Pumpkinhead & Bailey’s

This one’s a bit tricky, because the Bailey’s will most likely curdle if mixed too harshly (think Irish Car Bomb curdle). In fact, this one is best consumed almost identically to an Irish Car Bomb, but instead of a shot including Jameson and Bailey’s, it’s best with Captain Morgan and Bailey’s.

Or, if you’re going to mix them straight up, you’ll want just a light to heavy drizzle on top of the Pumpkinhead. The smooth, creamy beige will really richen up the flavor for this special treat.

The Lambp Shade

Pumpkinhead, Guinness, and Abricotier Lambic

One of my favorite drinks in the world is a signature drink at the Duck & Bunny in Providence, RI: The Lava Lambp. They drizzle Guinness over a bed of Magner’s Hard Cider and top it all off with a Framboise Lambic floater. The raspberry of the Framboise trickles through the beverage, slowly dissolved and mixing to give it a look that is distinctly Lava Lamp-like.

For a comparable, pumpkin variation, switch in Pumpkinhead instead of the Magner’s and choose a different flavor of Lambic. The Apricot works perhaps best, but there are a variety of flavors that you can dabble in when it comes to the rich, syrupy brew.

Just so you know, my punny and terrible naming convention doesn’t have to be permanent. If you have a better name for this drink then PLEASE let me know!

What other tasty mixes have you tried at home? Let us know in the comments below!