September is always an exciting month for beer lovers. Oktoberfest beers start to show up on the shelves, but it always seems these special brews shelf space is shrinking. Pumpkin beers seem the hot beer this time of year now, hogging the space one occupied by the Oktoberfest lagers.
Brewers like to show off their skills at this beer, a brew steeped in history when colonial brewers couldn’t get barley from the British and resorted to using pumpkins. The pumpkins were plentiful in the colonies and provided the necessary sugars to brew beer in the New World, screw the king.
Today it seems that brewers are more interested in brewing liquid pumpkin pie than recreating historic ales. I’m not sure why this became so fashionable, and I don’t mind one on occasion, but I do find it difficult to have more than one in a single sitting, but over the past few days I made the effort to bring my readers some thoughts on some recent findings.
Schlafly, Special Release Pumpkin Ale, The Saint Louis Brewery, St. Louis, MO, 8%abv. pours amber-brown with no real head. The complex nose is a blend of caramel roasted malt, baking spices and carved pumpkin. These aromas are pleasing and persist until the end. The mouth is very rich with a surprising taste of apple pie. It is like the taste of a cracked window on a cool autumn afternoon tossing a football in the backyard. The pumpkin comes through, but the cinnamon and baked apple pie flavors lead to a long finish. The perfect paring for the Schlafly, Special Release Pumpkin Ale would be a warm piece of apple pie alamode with real vanilla bean ice cream.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, 7%abv. is dark golden-amber with a small off white head. Tight nose with hints of roasted malt and dull pumpkin and some warming baking spices. The flavors are well integrated and nothing is too overwhelming. The Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is unique in that you could enjoy more than one at a single sitting. A moist pumpkin flavored pound cake would pair perfectly.
Smuttynose Brewing Company, Hampton, NH, Pumpkin Ale, 6.5%abv. is a dark golden hue with a thin white head that dissipates quickly. Spicy roasted malt comes to the front with fragrant ginger, clove and allspice. The palate lightly reflect the nose, but no intense with the spices. This maybe the pumpkin puree rounding out the palate. The mouth feel is full, but the taste is flat compared to the nose. As far as pumpkin ales are concerned, this is a middle of the road tasting beer; nothing to be excited about if this is a style you enjoy. Drink with a slice of pumpkin pie to get some more intense pumpkin flavors.