Thursday, November 1, 2007

Those Jack-o-Lanterns have to go somewhere

This is the time of year when we see the microbreweries (and even some of the big boys at B[ud]M[iller]C[oors]) churn out their pumpkin brews. Pumpkin can be added to a beer in many ways. During the mashing process, boil, fermentation, or post fermentation. Brewers can use extracts, mashes, or whole chunks of the pumpkin flesh. I've recently sampled a few such offerings, here are my impressions:

  1. The Beer: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
    The Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Delaware
    The Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable/"Specialty" beer (ale)
    ABV: 7%
    Brewer's Description: Punkin' Ale is a full-bodied, spiced brown ale brewed with baked pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale is named after the annual Punkin' Chunkin Festival held near Lewes, Delaware the weekend after Halloween.
    Color: Bright copper with a thin white head
    Aroma: allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, some faint malt notes as well
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel with tingling carbonation. Spices up front: stinging allspice and nutmeg followed by a bready, crusty malt backbone and some mild pumpkin meat. Lots of rich caramel malt and some toffee in the body as well.
    Finish: Drying finish with some cinnamon and biscuit notes. Begs the mouth to be moistened with another sip.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Texas. I really enjoyed this one. The spices typically used in pumpkin pie are more prevalent than the actual pumpkin flavor which is slightly muted. I didn't mind that much and I really enjoyed the spiciness of this beer. That said, it's not for everyone. I have several friends that do not enjoy this beer. The relatively high alcohol content is well hidden by the spices.

  2. The Beer: Pumpkin Lager Beer
    The Brewery: Lakefront Brewery, Inc of Wilwaukee, Wisconsin
    The Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable/"Specialty" beer (lager)
    ABV: N/A
    Brewer's Description: Pumpkin Lager is brewed with pumpkins in the mash, spices added during the boil, and lightly hopped. The rich speciality grains and lager fermentation combine to produce the taste and the texture of pumpkin pie.
    Color: Light, cloudy orange with thin wispy head
    Aroma: sweet caramel in the nose with some funky pumpkin notes
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Light fizzy mouthfeel. Sweet caramel notes up front with some medium pumpkin meat. Taste is oddly vegetal.
    Finish: Finish is rather flat. Slightly clean and lager-like finish, not much bitterness to speak of. Suggestion of pumpkin guts.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Wisconsin. I was a little disappointed with this offering. This had much more of a raw pumpkin flavor while the Dogfish beer was more reminiscent of pumpkin pie filling. Spices are kept to a minimum and the body is very thin, refreshing, and quaffable. This is at the expense of the deep rich caramel notes exhibited by the Dogfish brew.

  3. The Beer: Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale
    The Brewery: Coors Brewing Company(MolsonCoors) of Golden, Colorado
    The Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable/"Specialty" beer (ale)
    ABV: 5.77%
    Brewer's Description: This amber-colored flavored ale is brewed only in the autumn and combines the flavor of ripened pumpkin and spices with traditional crystal malt.
    Color: Brilliant clear bright amber with fluffy cream head

    Aroma: Minimal aroma, very faint pumpkin chunk note as it warms
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Thin and highly carbonated mouthfeel. Some faint cloves and caramel, with the majority of the flavor being a vegetal and pumpkin.
    Finish: Clean and dry with no bitterness to speak of. Some light cinnamon and coriander notes.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Oklahoma. This was a generic tasting beer with some pumpkin added. Spices are very mild and pumpkin is the most notable flavor note. Very mild caramel notes (from the crystal malts). Not an offensive beer, but very ordinary.

I hope to sample more pumpkin ales in the future. I enjoy snagging some seasonal releases and noting the various angles brewers take on them. Some of these beers would be great compliments to the cornucopia of holiday goods that await us!

1 comment:

Crusader said...

I just tried a beer at Old Chicago called "A.B. Jack's Pumpkin Spice" and while an Anheuser‑Busch product, wasn't all that bad.