Tasting: August 25,2011
Style: Special (Fruit)
I noted in my Oktoberfest post that fall seasonal beers have been hitting beer shelves since mid-August. I somewhat understand Oktoberfest because the Munich festival actually starts in mid-September. But to me, Oktoberfest and pumpkin ales are simply maximizing their shelf life. Really, who wants an Oktoberfest beer or pumpkin ale into late November? But then again, whoâ€™s thinking about pumpkins, fall harvests and Halloween before the kids even go back to school? They both are really aiming at what amounts to a season that lasts for four weeks with a beer that should last for 6 months.
My mother has always made these â€œdeep dishâ€ pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner. Since my birthday usually falls a few days before the holiday, she would always make a pumpkin pie to help celebrate my big day. This is a tradition that still continues and I hope to see another pumpkin pie on my table for my birthday this year. Itâ€™s easy to say that I love pumpkin pie because I can relate it to fond family memories.
Because of this long-standing love of pumpkin pie, I was thrilled to receive pumpkin ale as part of a â€œbeer of the monthâ€ club about twenty years ago. All I can recall is the allspice flavor that is sometimes confused with real pumpkin flavor. It was so unremarkable that I couldnâ€™t tell you who made it and it was so unremarkable that I havenâ€™t had another pumpkin ale since then.
So, here I am with another pumpkin ale. This one is the recommendation of a really excellent beer guru â€“ Matt from Garyâ€™s Wine in Wayne, NJ. He tells me that this is the only pumpkin ale heâ€™ll have.
Some of the vitals from the label, 8.6 % ABV with 19 degrees plato. That puts it at the threshold of a high density beer. Not surprising since the label says that it contains real pureed pumpkin. There is really no head to this beer. It’s a reddish orange and it smells like a rich graham cracker crust. On the first few sips, you can easily get the pumpkin, but it is tucked behind a strong cinnamon and nutmeg flavor. It finishes with some moderate hop bitterness that is subtle enough not to step all over the pumpkin signature. I’m a little surprised that the body is a little on the light side. This one truly does resemble a pumpkin pie. I wouldn’t call it more than a novelty since I wouldn’t want to drink this regularly. I’ll score it as a novelty and give it 87 points for executing an interesting ale. My wife had a sip and she said she said she could see drinking this on a cool Fall day. I agree.