Jump to content

It's the Great Pumpkin (Beer Thread), Don Rockwell


PappyVanWise
 Share

Recommended Posts

After a smattering of postings about pumpkin beers both inside and out of the VBT forum, I thought it might make sense to open up a Pumpkin beer thread.  With all the options out there it proved a bit difficult to just pick one beer for everyone to try.  This way people can post their notes, letting us know what beers to try and which to avoid.  This is a bit of a change from how we normally do things, but hopefully people check this thread out and start posting.  Hopefully this thread can stay active throughout the season, and feel free to include other seasonal offerings even if they don't feature pumpkin.

Going into this tasting, I can't admit to being a fan of pumpkin beers, but I had never really sought them out before.  When the weather gets colder I veer towards the aged stouts and darker beers.  Since we have this community going, I thought it would be fun to try something new.  Here's what I picked up for my initial tasting:

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

New Holland Ichabod Ale

Cisco Pumple Drumkin Ale

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

New Belgium Pumpkick

Anchor Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red (Not a pumpkin beer, but being sold as an Autumn ale)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This article discussed quite a few:

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/blogs/99bottles/2013/09/the_best_pumpkin_beers_of_2013.html

I am a fan of the less pumpkin-y, more beer-y pumpkin ales :P so I've always been a fan of the Dogfish Head Punkin. Also a huge fan of Flying Dog's The Fear imperial pumpkin. Neither has disappointed this year.

I tasted the Weyerbacher on tap, too sweet/pumpkin pie like for my tastes. I'm avoiding the Southern Tier & Schlafly for that reason as well.

I did just pick up a few individual bottles of some I haven't had before, including the Smuttynose and the New Belgium, as well as the Starr Hill pumpkin porter and another pumpkin ale from a brewery I'd never heard of but figured has to be good because it was so damn expensive. :P I'll report back after I try them.

Still trying to get my hands on the Wolaver's.

Yay fall! Yay pumpkin beer! :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i don't search out pumpkin beers so take this note for what it's worth.

Add another vote for Dogfish Head's pumpkin seasonal. It was one of the first on the scene, IIRC, and it's still the type I like best. A few weeks ago I got a variety box of Starr Hill beers which included the pumpkin porter (Boxcar?). I'd give it a "B". Pumpkin-y but not too much. If I had to call the biggest flaw I'd say it's a little heavy on the spicing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm halfway through this six pack, and my first real conclusion is pumpkin beers still ain't my thing.  I haven't tried the Shipyard yet, but I'm excited to try out something that is universally reviled.  So far Festina Peche has been the low bar for me, and from everything I've read Pumpkinhead should set the new standard.

I agree with Jen that the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale was both sweet and heavy on the pumpkin pie flavor.  It didn't turn me off, though.  Maybe since it was my first one and I didn't know what to expect, I wasn't disappointed by the overpowering pieness (hee hee).  If this had been the only variation I tried, then I'd left with the impression that Pumpkin ales are supposed to be made this way, sweet and heavy-handed.  

The next one I tried was the Cisco Pumple Drumkin Ale, and now it is what I expect the others to taste like.  This was more of an IPA with some pumpkin essence to it.  I liked this too, but after the heaviness of the Weyerbacher, it was a tad underwhelming towards the end of the bottle.  If I had started with this one, I probably couldn't have finished the Weyerbacher, but I think it didn't get a chance to shine as the second in the lineup.

Third was the Anchor Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red, and it was nothing special.  I know Anchor has its fan out there, but this one didn't have much going for it.  The maple was barely noticeable, and the beer tasted pretty watered down.  I haven't had a Killian's in almost a decade, but it might hold up better than this.

I'll try the next few soon, looking forward to being wildly disappointed in the Shipyard, but I have faith that New Belgium and New Holland will more than make up for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't usually dig pumpkin beers either - at least, not with great frequency or in large quantities - but my two favorites are the Weyerbacher and the Southern Tier Pumking.  The latter is one of my all-time favorite seasonal treats, and I will be so excited when I see it on draft somewhere (I want to say that Churchkey got its first small keg of Pumking last week, but I couldn't make it over there).  It is like fall in a glass - spicy, sweet, deliciousness.  When I am going to drink a pumpkin beer, I generally want that sweet and heavy character.  I treat it like dessert.  :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually enjoy the Shipyard Pumpkin Ale - its on the lighter side, and with the release being so early I enjoy it when its still warm outside.

Currently in my fridge I have:

-Schafly Pumpkin - traditionally one of my favorites, although this years release struck me as a tad lighter than in years past

-Weyerbacher - (full disclosure, its brewed in the town I grew up in so I'm biased) - one of my favorites, I like that its a bit on the heavy side but traditionally save this one for when it gets a bit chillier.

-Southern Tier Pumking - they have quite a bit of it at Rodmans on Wisconsin Ave - haven't cracked either of the bombers I picked up yet but historically this is my favorite Pumpkin beer

-Sam Adams Double Jack - had never seen this before, have yet to taste it but will post when I do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had the Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale with lunch yesterday.  I'd call it in the better half of the beers I've tried so far.  It was from a bottle, but very cold, so it was quite refreshing on an 80 degree October afternoon.  It was more along the lines of a solid ale with hints of pumpkin, and went really well with a pastrami on rye with mustard.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting how serious beer drinkers eschew pumpkin ales. Each year, it seems I try one or two because they "sound" like they're going to be good (after all, who doesn't like pumpkin pie?), and then I give up.

I just bought a six-pack of Uinta Brewing Punk'n (Beer Advocate page) from Salt Lake City, UT, and while there are certain aspects about it to love, overall I'd say you can do better.

It pours a beautiful copper hue, and is even advertised as "sessionable" (lower in alcohol, so you can drink several beers in one "session"), but it's a bit lean on the palate. This is the kind of beer you like, but don't love - that you don't hate yourself for buying, but find several bottles sitting around in your fridge, unopened.

Two things that "got me" were the word Uinta (which looks something like Lagunitas) and the packaging which really pushes the natural, organic, pure aspect of the product (even though it's only 3%, yes, 3% organic material - water is not allowed to be called organic, btw). Also the price ($12.99) vis-a-vis two other pumpkin ales ($9.99 each) for sale at Van Ness Wines and Liquors next door to Pho 14. Yep, I fell into *that* trap! If it's more expensive, it must be better, and the packaging is lovely.

Worth knowing about, worth trying once; not worth going out of your way for. Go in with a couple of friends, and split three-or-so six-packs up into two-beers each. It's safer, and you'll find out what you like and don't like with minimal risk (and, have something to discuss with your friends which is half the fun!) That is but one reason that I *love* this community of people. Love it! As much time as I spend working here, I love everything about the work I do, and it's all because of you guys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Worth knowing about, worth trying once; not worth going out of your way for. Go in with a couple of friends, and split three-or-so six-packs up into two-beers each. It's safer, and you'll find out what you like and don't like with minimal risk (and, have something to discuss with your friends which is half the fun!) That is but one reason that I *love* this community of people. Love it! As much time as I spend working here, I love everything about the work I do, and it's all because of you guys.

This sounds like something fun to do at our upcoming picnic!  :D  I would definitely be interested in sharing some 6-packs and comparing tasting notes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tried yet another last night, New Belgium Pumpkick.  I hadn't read the label closely before drinking, and after a few sips I knew this was one was a bit different than the others.  New Belgium added cranberry juice to add some tartness, and it really made this beer shine.  Probably the best of the bunch so far.  This wasn't an IPA with pumpkin juice or a too sweet dessert beer, just a well-balanced and interesting variation of the style.

From the bottle:

"What's that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it's the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tried yet another last night, New Belgium Pumpkick.  I hadn't read the label closely before drinking, and after a few sips I knew this was one was a bit different than the others.  New Belgium added cranberry juice to add some tartness, and it really made this beer shine.  Probably the best of the bunch so far.  This wasn't an IPA with pumpkin juice or a too sweet dessert beer, just a well-balance and interesting variation of the style.

From the bottle:

"What's that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it's the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing."

We seem to have similar tastes as far as the pumpkin beers go. I just had the Pumpkick last night and really enjoyed it. I still think I prefer the Dogfish head slightly (won't compare it to the Flying Dog since this was much closer in style to the Dogfish Head so it seems a more apt comparison), but I also think I'm maybe a bit biased toward the 2 I've consistently loved (DFH & Flying Dog). I only bought one bottle of the Pumpkick, but I'd happily drink more to explore it further. :P

Still have 3 others in there. If I don't get to them by this weekend, I will by next.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting how serious beer drinkers eschew pumpkin ales. Each year, it seems I try one or two because they "sound" like they're going to be good (after all, who doesn't like pumpkin pie?), and then I give up.

I just bought a six-pack of Uinta Brewing Punk'n (Beer Advocate page) from Salt Lake City, UT, and while there are certain aspects about it to love, overall I'd say you can do better.

It pours a beautiful copper hue, and is even advertised as "sessionable" (lower in alcohol, so you can drink several beers in one "session"), but it's a bit lean on the palate. This is the kind of beer you like, but don't love - that you don't hate yourself for buying, but find several bottles sitting around in your fridge, unopened.

Two things that "got me" were the word Uinta (which looks something like Lagunitas) and the packaging which really pushes the natural, organic, pure aspect of the product (even though it's only 3%, yes, 3% organic material - water is not allowed to be called organic, btw). Also the price ($12.99) vis-a-vis two other pumpkin ales ($9.99 each) for sale at Van Ness Wines and Liquors next door to Pho 14. Yep, I fell into *that* trap! If it's more expensive, it must be better, and the packaging is lovely.

Worth knowing about, worth trying once; not worth going out of your way for. Go in with a couple of friends, and split three-or-so six-packs up into two-beers each. It's safer, and you'll find out what you like and don't like with minimal risk (and, have something to discuss with your friends which is half the fun!) That is but one reason that I *love* this community of people. Love it! As much time as I spend working here, I love everything about the work I do, and it's all because of you guys.

I thought I'd save everyone the trouble of wasting their money on Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat. I was at a 7-11, saw it for $8.99 a six-pack, and thought of this thread - I knew I hadn't liked the Shock Top beers I'd tried in the past, but was hoping that pumpkin flavor might "drown out" any unpleasantries. Sure enough, it did, but but not sufficiently.

One thing everyone, including me, should remember: Shock Top is owned by Anheuser-Busch. Do I need to go on? It's a mass-produced product, and tastes like it. I'm guilty of not remembering *why* I didn't like it in the past, but I'll not forget this again.

Here is the Beer Advocate trashing. Do not buy Shock Top - save your pennies, and calories, for Miller Lite. This beer is "not horrible," but we can do better than not horrible, right? Especially with all the beers so readily available in this area? If you see it on draft in a bar, remember: this beer is Anheuser-Busch with a hipster, microbrew label.

Spending my money so you don't have to,

Rocks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A friend brought over Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale the other night. We both were leery, consider traditional Blue Moon blows. This bottling, my fellow Rockwellians, was beyond awful. It's as if they steeped all of the returned Blue Moon from 2011 in a vat with half-dozen pumpkin pies from Giant, and a few aromaticused sweat-sock pouches stuffed with nutmeg. Seven days later they bottled it and then haughtily laughed "Carpe Diem!"

I would have poured it down my toilet, but I thought it would be bad for the septic tank. For real.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spending my money so you don't have to,

Rocks

Except we didn't need you to to know not to. ;)

A friend brought over Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale the other night. We both were leery, consider traditional Blue Moon blows. This bottling, my fellow Rockwellians, was beyond awful. It's as if they steeped all of the returned Blue Moon from 2011 in a vat with half-dozen pumpkin pies from Giant, and a few aromaticused sweat-sock pouches stuffed with nutmeg. Seven days later they bottled it and then haughtily laughed "Carpe Diem!"

I would have poured it down my toilet, but I thought it would be bad for the septic tank. For real.

:lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.Two things that "got me" were the word Uinta (which looks something like Lagunitas) and the packaging which really pushes the natural, organic, pure aspect of the product .

Don't give up on Uinta. They make some excellent beers, but they are expensive (due to distribution costs, I'm guessing ).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will second the Southern Tier Pumking. Out at trivia a couple weeks ago (I go every sunday night), I had that and another pumpkin. I don't recall where the other one was from (it was a brewery I normally like, and a big craft, but I forget which one). Pumking seemed to have a real squash-y taste that I liked, where the other one was blander.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought I'd save everyone the trouble of wasting their money on Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat. I was at a 7-11, saw it for $8.99 a six-pack, and thought of this thread - I knew I hadn't liked the Shock Top beers I'd tried in the past, but was hoping that pumpkin flavor might "drown out" any unpleasantries. Sure enough, it did, but but not sufficiently.

One thing everyone, including me, should remember: Shock Top is owned by Anheuser-Busch. Do I need to go on? It's a mass-produced product, and tastes like it. I'm guilty of not remembering *why* I didn't like it in the past, but I'll not forget this again.

Here is the Beer Advocate trashing. Do not buy Shock Top - save your pennies, and calories, for Miller Lite. This beer is "not horrible," but we can do better than not horrible, right? Especially with all the beers so readily available in this area? If you see it on draft in a bar, remember: this beer is Anheuser-Busch with a hipster, microbrew label.

Spending my money so you don't have to,

Rocks

My God it's gone from bad, to worse, to so unbelievably horrible that I don't know what to do.

I made the mistake that you should *never* make: walk into Total Wine McLean and buy a Shipyard Brewing Company (Portland, Maine) Pumpkinhead.

The second I poured it, I said to myself, "What, the, *fuck*?" It was pale, with no head at all, and a scent of chemical-confection. The palate was equally bad, tasting like some sick joke of a fermented soft drink.

Do yourself a favor and don't buy Shipyard Pumpkinhead! Trust me!

You know, every year I have one or two pumpkin ales, and I remember why I know virtually nothing about them: it's a minefield, and so far, I've taken three steps, stepped on three mines, and have been blown up three times.

This beer is as bad as any I've had in months, and that includes Miller 64.

Here is the Beer Advocate trashing. While I don't agree with "point scores," they're better than a blind man throwing darts which is *exactly* what I am when it comes to pumpkin ales. Read the fourth review down by Billowlick - it absolutely pegs what I think of the beer, and I couldn't say it better myself.

I'm about ready to give up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Instead of giving up, why not buy some of the ones that are recommended by people in the know, either online or here? You seem to have purchased two of the absolute worst contenders thus far.

Last night I opened the one I bought just because it was expensive - Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' pumpkin ale. Have never heard of the brewery before although I noted upon opening that the cap says it's solar-powered, which made my happy. Anyway, it was quite good. I certainly think it's worth a try if anyone happens to come across it and the price isn't off-putting.

Right now I'm drinking the Starr Hill pumpkin porter. Not much pumpkin to speak of. Probably won't buy this one again, but wouldn't turn it down if someone offered me one or I saw it on tap. It's a decent porter, just nothing particularly special.

That just leaves me with the Smuttynose, which I may have in a bit, we'll see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently liking Shipyard blows away my "craft beer cred" (although, the chances I had any to begin with are small).  I suppose there is something about it jogging my memories to college and trips to Maine that may cloud my taste buds on that one - but whatever.

The best Pumpkin Beers I've had this year:

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin

Southern Tier Brewing Pumpkin

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

DC Brau Fermentation without Representation (collaboration with Epic)

I would encourage anyone who has tried some of the worst (and sure, include Shipyard in that) to give these a taste.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently liking Shipyard blows away my "craft beer cred" (although, the chances I had any to begin with are small).  I suppose there is something about it jogging my memories to college and trips to Maine that may cloud my taste buds on that one - but whatever.

Well it's possible they're a good brewery that just makes bad pumpkin beer. One of the things I *love* about this community is that no matter how obscure or random a food item, or brewery, or restaurant may seem - *someone* else here probably has some experience with it, and the conversation is always interesting.

Instead of giving up, why not buy some of the ones that are recommended by people in the know, either online or here? You seem to have purchased two of the absolute worst contenders thus far.

Jen, yes - lesson learned! I just found myself in locations a couple of times without an iPhone, and grabbed whatever had a nice-looking label. Let my failures be a lesson to everyone: beers these days are every bit the minefield that wines are - buying blind is a bad strategy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll drink one Pumpking every year or two and enjoy it....but anything more than that and my tongue just explodes from an overexposure to the various sweetness and spices. It's a pumpkin pie beer - for a true pumpkin beer, pick up an Elysian - The Great Pumpkin, Blight Pumpkin Ale, Dark O' The Moon, or Night Owl depending on your tastes and the availability. Locally I'm a big fan of the Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin and The Greater Pumpkin as well as the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I haven't actually drank any pumpkin beers since this thread was started so I can't give an actual review.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had the Smuttynose as well last night, which took some adjustment after the porter (which btw did taste more pumpkin-y as it warmed up a bit). The Smuttynose is indeed a good beer, more pale ale in style than any of the others I've had. Knowing what I know now, this is what I would have chosen to start the season when the pumpkin beers were already stocking the shelves and it was still hot out. This one is definitely more bitter and hoppy than the others I've had, while still having a clear pumpkin character. Consider me a fan, although it's not what I'm going to crave on a chilly fall night.

I'm still keeping my eye out for the Wolaver's and may try a couple of others. Headed to a different beer store in the next day or two to see what I can find.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jen, yes - lesson learned! I just found myself in locations a couple of times without an iPhone, and grabbed whatever had a nice-looking label. Let my failures be a lesson to everyone: beers these days are every bit the minefield that wines are - buying blind is a bad strategy.

Or buying based on looks. ;) Although my strategy of buying based on price could have been as much of a failure as well. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My God it's gone from bad, to worse, to so unbelievably horrible that I don't know what to do.

I made the mistake that you should *never* make: walk into Total Wine McLean and buy a Shipyard Brewing Company (Portland, Maine) Pumpkinhead.

I also purchased the America's Original Pumpkin Ale from Buffalo Bill's Brewery in Hayward, California only to arrive at home and see that it, too, receives fairly lowly reviews from the ever-reliable Beer Advocate (there is no need for us *ever* to begin a dedicated beer website as long as Beer Advocate exists).

Compared to the Pumpkinhead, this is like drinking a Margaux. It's not wonderful, but it's "okay," and having had only the two recently, my perspective is so skewed as to make this a bit better than it is.

If it's any indication of quality, I bought a couple of cigars at PG Cigar Boutique, and have *no* qualms about having the two together.

About 15 years ago, I was driving down a road in Virginia (I can't remember which), and was behind a Porsche Targa with the license plate "PG CIGAR". I pulled up next to the gentleman at a stoplight, and waved for him to roll down his window.

"Are you Paul Garmirian?" I asked.

He nodded yes.

"I helped pay for that car!"

End of conversation - we laughed and went on our respective ways (I'm willing to bet he remembers this, too).

In my dining room, there is a vintage 1992 PG ($15-ish) waiting to be sucked on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Imbibe's list of 5 recommended pumpkin beers. I'm pretty sure my shop has the Elysian and I may just have to give the old Schlafly another try since it gets recommended so much...

I recently had Elysian The Great Pumpkin, which is rated slightly higher than Night Owl.  Nice strong finish of clove and cinnamon.

Will report on some more pumpkin beers that are waiting in the fridge shortly......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sam Adams Fat Jack was nothing special but a solid imperial pumpkin.  Instead of sweet, it emphasizes the earthy/nutty/gourdy side of the the pumpkin, with some allspice notes at the end.

While reviewing a Sam Adams beer, wanted to say that I respect the heck of Samuel Adams (really Jim Koch) not only for staying true to its morals and values over the years but still cranking out some high quality, craft-oriented brews, even while it has become a huge brewery in size.  The other brewery that comes to mind in the same vein is Sierra Nevada (Ken Grossman).

When needing six pack in a pinch at a relatively inexpensive cost, why on earth would someone buy Bud or Coors products rather than a solid Sam Adams Boston Lager or Sierra Nevada Pale?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Started off last night with a Heavy Seas The Great'er Pumpkin, a pumpkin beer aged in bourbon barrels. The bourbon taste you are probably familiar with from other bourbon-casked beers hits you up front, and then the pumpkin and the spices. It's one of my favorite pumpkin beers, but if you don't like bourbon beers you'll hate this one. And of course it's extremely strong (10% I think)

After that I switched to Flying Dog The Fear. I don't think my palate was properly cleansed because at first all I got was....chocolate? So that's my fault. Very little spices in this one, which is a good thing to me - I don't like my beers to be too overpowered with the nutmeg, cinnamon, and/or ginger that some pumpkin beers sometimes get away with. But again its a darker, stronger pumpkin ale so it doesn't appeal to many.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Popping open the Pumking as we speak.....the sweetness and spices are not nearly as overpowerfing as I remember, but they're still a bit more than I prefer. I'm enjoying it more than I seem to recall, but it's not my favorite or anything. My viewpoint seems to be more of the minority though, both here and other places. I just don't have a big taste for some of the stuff they highlight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally got my hands on the Wolaver's this weekend. Meh. I have one more in my fridge so I hope to be able to give some actual details as to what I disliked about it, but if I recall correctly, I think it was that it tasted kind of like stale beer with pumpkin flavor added to me. It may just be that I don't really like that style of beer (perhaps more lagery than many that I've had?). Who knows, will try to report back with more info later.

In the meantime, I also had a chance to taste this year's Southern Tier Pumpking, my dislike as a beer I'd sit and drink on its own was confirmed. However, in a weird 2 wrongs make a right sort of way, my friends mixed a large format bottle of it with a small bottle of some sort of peanut butter beer and it was freaking delicious (in the small quantities I had).

Also tasted the Elysian The Great Pumpkin (couldn't find the Night Owl) and was not a fan. I found the spice way too heavy. But, I was a big fan of the Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin from the Brush & Barrel series, which...DON ROCKWELL...I chose based purely on the label. ;)

I think this probably wraps up my pumpkin beer experimentation for the season. I have drunk more beer in the last couple of weeks than I've this entire year (not an exaggeration at all) and it's time to switch back to liquor and wine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had an interesting cider that actually fits in this thread (I NEVER drink cider for whatever reason) while in Chicago this past weekend.  Ace Pumpkin Cider from the California Cider Company - I was at a bar, and saw the pumpkin logo on it and asked to try it (thinking it was some sort of pumpkin beer).

Nice and crisp with a nice balance between pumpkin and apple flavors.  Very clean and crisp tasting.  I'm not sure how this compares to other ciders, but as a beer drinker I thought it was a nice change.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had an interesting cider that actually fits in this thread (I NEVER drink cider for whatever reason) while in Chicago this past weekend.  Ace Pumpkin Cider from the California Cider Company - I was at a bar, and saw the pumpkin logo on it and asked to try it (thinking it was some sort of pumpkin beer).

Nice and crisp with a nice balance between pumpkin and apple flavors.  Very clean and crisp tasting.  I'm not sure how this compares to other ciders, but as a beer drinker I thought it was a nice change.

Thanks for mentioning this. There were a couple of pumpkin ciders at my store and I contemplated picking one up, but decided against it because I knew nothing about them (aside from one being made by Woodchuck). You may have inspired me to try one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Based on recommendations from this thread, I bought a Southern Tier Pumking last week to try for the first time. As these things are wont to happen, I was given two bottles as a gift two says later. Go figure. I'll agree with others that this beer is in the top three pumpkin beers on the market. It has pumpkin flavor but the spicing isn't over the top. It's a little sweet, but it's not out of style as the beer is an imperial beer. Bitterness perception is on the low side for my palate, but the level works just fine for the beer. I think the beer would be more in line with Dogfish Head's pumpkin version if the bitterness were higher. That wouldn't be a bad thing, but the beer is very good for the style. There was zero head retention, but I'm happy to give that another test with the other bottles and new glasses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the meantime, I also had a chance to taste this year's Southern Tier Pumpking, my dislike as a beer I'd sit and drink on its own was confirmed. However, in a weird 2 wrongs make a right sort of way, my friends mixed a large format bottle of it with a small bottle of some sort of peanut butter beer and it was freaking delicious (in the small quantities I had).

Ha! I wonder if that peanut butter beer is the one that my parents' friends were complaining about this weekend.

In past years, I've been known to add a shot of aged rum (El Dorado 12, for instance) to my Pumpking, to very delicious effect.

This year I've had the New Belgium and DFH pumpkin beers and liked them both. Less so on the Sam Adams beer, though I will agree with jrichstar above - Sam Adams prevalence has saved me from going straight to Miller Lite a number of times. Though I prefer the Boston Ale over the Boston Lager, and I won't touch the Noble Pils with a ten foot pole.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently liking Shipyard blows away my "craft beer cred" (although, the chances I had any to begin with are small).  I suppose there is something about it jogging my memories to college and trips to Maine that may cloud my taste buds on that one - but whatever.

The best Pumpkin Beers I've had this year:

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin

Southern Tier Brewing Pumpkin

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

DC Brau Fermentation without Representation (collaboration with Epic)

I would encourage anyone who has tried some of the worst (and sure, include Shipyard in that) to give these a taste.

Imbibe's list of 5 recommended pumpkin beers. I'm pretty sure my shop has the Elysian and I may just have to give the old Schlafly another try since it gets recommended so much...

Okay, I just did it: I bought a case of the Schlafly Pumpkin Ale by Saint Louis Brewery (Saint Louis, MO) at the Fairfax Total Wine. Caveat Emptor: the price, with tax, was over $50! I was positively stunned when this was rung up, but that's what I get for not even checking.

I also want to *highly* recommend the Ichabod Pumpkin Ale by New Holland Brewing Company (Holland, MI) - I had it the other evening at T.N.T. Bar (in the Arlington Eamonn's) and loved it.

Also, last night I had the Samuel Smith's Organic Apricot Ale by Samuel Smith Brewery (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England) at Palena Cafe - this drinks very much like a Lambic, and comes with a sweetness warning, but if you use it as a quasi-wine (i.e., sip it, don't drink it), it pairs very well with some of the food (the roast chicken, for example) at Palena.

Can you tell I'm a fan of the Beer Advocate?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well it's possible they're a good brewery that just makes bad pumpkin beer. One of the things I *love* about this community is that no matter how obscure or random a food item, or brewery, or restaurant may seem - *someone* else here probably has some experience with it, and the conversation is always interesting.

This is certainly true--everyone is trying to cash in on the pumpkin craze.  There are more, earlier, each year, and this year there seem to be hundreds.

Which brings me to this barely tangentially related essay from "Fall Guy" (note:  not Lee Majors)

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/its-decorative-gourd-season-motherfuckers

Regarding Shipyard:  I go to Maine nearly every year, sometimes several times.  Shipyard is a great memory from my twenties.  Perhaps I grew out of it, or their product has slipped overall, or both, but their pumpkin is just brutal.

I'm drinking Schlafly right now, and I agree with the poster who said it's lighter this year, although I mean that in terms of body, as I feel the spices are turned up a a notch.  DFH Punkin is great this year, but not their absolute best effort.  I'm still standing by The Fear as the head of the class.  I got the second to last case from Old Line today and haven't been able to find it anywhere else the last couple weeks, so go get it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Peanut Butter could also be the, what I can only imagine is repugnant, Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Banana, Peanut Butter Ale.  Though I haven't tried this one, I did have the previous Rogue/Voodoo Doughnut collaboration, Maple Bacon Ale, and it was a challenge finishing a glass.

To keep away from thread drift, I finally finished my original six pack.

The Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale was as described and expected, tasted like a regular watery pilsner that someone dumped some cinnamon and nutmeg into right before it was bottled.

I also had the New Holland Ichabod Ale that Don loved at TNT, though mine was from the bottle. It was one of the few that I could see myself having more than one of in one sitting, but I still preferred the tartness of the Pumpkick from the ones I've tried.

And I added one more to the mix, Hardywood Farmhouse Pumpkin.  This was a farmhouse saison style, so didn't have the heaviness of some of the other beers.  I was pretty impressed with the pumpkin and yeast contrasts, as opposed some of the other ones that paired pumpkin with the malt flavors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Peanut Butter could also be the, what I can only imagine is repugnant, Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Banana, Peanut Butter Ale.  Though I haven't tried this one, I did have the previous Rogue/Voodoo Doughnut collaboration, Maple Bacon Ale, and it was a challenge finishing a glass.

In case anyone cares (and yes, a bit of thread drift):

I will never again drink a Rogue beer knowingly.

I used to be a fan; I felt that their quality had slipped some but they still did some good stuff. However, their rampant abuse of lawsuits to "protect" their IP (see: Rogue Cocktails, Rogue 24, etc) and their abuse of their employees (not literally, but Reddit had a great thread about how they treat all the non-brewing staff, and what I think is telling was not only how little they wanted to pay for how much skill, but also how "hey, we're *ROGUE*" was their catchphrase to make up for lack of pay, lack of respect, etc.).

It makes me happy to see how many beer places around here - either knowingly or not - don't carry Rogue any more, and really as far as I'm concerned, they can go fuck themselves.

(PS: At Shoppers tonight I saw someone put a bottle of Rogue back on the shelf and buy an East Coast craft beer. I almost hugged him and told him why that was so awesome, but I didn't want to get creepier than I already was.)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those that can find it (as I've heard that its very hard to come by in VA), Southern Tier Warlock is very tasty. Everything that I always wanted a combo Pumpkin/Creme Brulee (which is a very popular combo at my local beer store) to be, but better. The pumpkin doesn't dominate, so I don't know if I could properly call it a 'pumpkin ale', but its a great pumpkin stout.

Caveat: not really a huge fan of pumpkin beers.

Also, to second Beer Advocate and to toss in untappd. The rankings on untappd aren't all that great since everything gravitates to between 3.3 and 4.1 (though its a pretty damn good bet I'll like a beer with an average of 4 MUCH better than one with an average of 3.4), but primarily just so I can remember what I've drank, and what I thought of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had Evolution Jacques Au Lantern last night based on a good review I saw.  Not my cup of tea.  There was some bread-y, wheat-y, yeast-y thing going on which really seemed to mask the pumpkin and spices.  One thing I'll give it---the smell was really great.  The pumpkin and spices came out very well there.  I just think taste is tons more important than smell in a beer.

Still a few more to go with Halloween as the goal!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, to second Beer Advocate and to toss in untappd. The rankings on untappd aren't all that great since everything gravitates to between 3.3 and 4.1 (though its a pretty damn good bet I'll like a beer with an average of 4 MUCH better than one with an average of 3.4), but primarily just so I can remember what I've drank, and what I thought of it.

I ended up giving up on untappd for a variety of reasons - including how much it was wearing down my phone battery. (And, honestly, given the quantities of beer I drink, that's probably not needed to be listed...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find I like pumpkin beers more in theory, as a fun fall seasonal thing, than I do in practice.  I give a bunch of them a try every year, but end up only being able to manage a few sips of most.  So far this year...

Good

Dogfish Punk'n - The one pumpkin beer I really like.  More spiced than last year?

Southern Tier Pumpking - can be a bit sweet and cloying, but good.  Always has a popcorn-like taste to me for some reason (?).

Flying Dog The Fear - less spice than most of the imperial pumpkins, which to me is a good thing.

Drinkable

Devil's Backbone Ichabod Crandall - this is getting trashed on Beer Advocate, but I thought it was a pleasant beer.

Southhampton
Uinta - for low-alcohol (4%) brews, these guys do a pretty good job (try Baba or Wild by them).
 

Too much spice and/or sweetness for me

(I know these are all very highly rated ones... goes to show that this just isn't my beer style)

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin

Schlafly -  I've liked it in the past, but too cinnamon-y this year.

Williamsburg

Hmmm....

Smuttynose - Was startled by the unusual (for a pumpkin beer) pale-ale/IPA base. I'm not sure how much I liked it.

New Belgium Pumpkick - The cranberry sourness was an interesting touch.  I found myself sorta enjoying this.

PS - Saw an interesting pumpkin collaboration from 21st Amendment and Elysian that just hit the stores.  A boxed 4-pack of cans containing 2 baltic pumpkin porters and 2 pumpkin tripels.

PPS - Had Sweet Baby Jesus at the DuClaw brewery recently and it was much better than I would have expected.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...