Gourd Juice: The Beauty Of Pumpkin Ales
It’s not just that it’s pumpkin beer season that got me thinking about the variety of these autumnal ales; it was while nursing my dog back to health. I’d read that pumpkin aids puppy digestion. My dog caught on that I was trying to feed him the same old canned pumpkin, which he liked at first, perhaps for a little variety around here, so once he was over it, I had to hand-feed him.
For a while now, pumpkin beers have been the most popular seasonal beers, but are we over them? Has the bloom worn off the squash? Maybe your first taste was Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale, which debuted in 1986. Maybe you live on the east coast and have access to, or a friend from there shared with you, the uber popular Southern Tier Pumking, one of the most pumpkin-pie-y ones out there.
Somehow, these don’t seem sufficiently unique from the year-round beers anymore. It’s not enough to simply have pumpkin (and/or traditional pumpkin pie spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg). Now there’s Uinta’s Jacked Oaked pumpkin beer (brewed to a frighteningly clever 10.31% ABV), Jolly Pumpkin (yes, Ron Jeffries caved and jollily brewed with pumpkins) La Parcela No. 1, a pumpkin ale with both sour and chocolate notes. Sharing the tart element is New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Kick, a sour ale with pumpkin and cranberries. In line with the chocolate side is Midnight Sun’s TREAT, an imperial pumpkin stout that goes beyond traditional pie spices to also include cocoa nibs.
At Elysian’s annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, not only did Elysian Brewing tap 14 beers of their own creation, but an additional 25 breweries submitted pumpkin offerings (including still more sour beers from Russian River and Allagash’s pumpkin beer from their Coolship entitled Ghoulship. While I wasn’t able to make it to this granddaddy of pumpkin beer fests in Seattle a couple weeks ago, I will be at the Killer Pumpkin Fest tonight at Rogue’s Green Dragon pub as part of Brewpublic.com’s Killer Beer Fest.
I’ll probably head down to the fest with my dog, who loves the attention he gets at beer festivals. Only, he better keep his paws off my pumpkin ales.