Southern Tier – Pumking

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, who’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 “deep dish” 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. It’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 “beer of the month” 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 couldn’t tell you who made it and it was so unremarkable that I haven’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 – Matt from Gary’s Wine in Wayne, NJ. He tells me that this is the only pumpkin ale he’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.

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