Posts Tagged pumpkin ale
Now that San Diego Beer Week2014 is over, the season is here: Fall pumpkin beers! I am always excited for this time of year, as I like all things pumpkin. Well, let me clarify that by saying I like things that taste like an actual pumpkin, not pumpkin pie- unless, of course, it is actual pumpkin pie. That’s what made this one a pleasant surprise.
As you can see, it poured black, with tan foamy head that reminded me of root beer. Smells coming off the top were rich and included bittersweet chocolate, coffee, slight fruitiness of prunes, maybe a little apple and some spice- a nice complexity that gave me great hope for this beer. The first thing I tasted was the chocolate, followed by what almost tasted like a sourness that I assumed might have come from the pumpkin (if it was made with any.) It had almost no noticeable carbonation, so it was very smooth and velvety, if a little thick on the mouthfeel. It finished a little dry, but the overall roasted malts persisted throughout the whole experience.
Overall, I liked this beer, thought it had a little too much of the cursed pumpkin pie flavor for me. At first, I rated this a 3.5, but it grew on me afterward and I rate it:
Ok, straight off the top, I have to make a correction: I jumped the gun and posted some of the pictures under Day 1 that were actually part of the Day 2 festivities. So, here we go…
Day 2 started normally enough. I went for my morning run, came home and read the news with breakfast. Then, after some other mundane stuff, I headed over to good ol’ KnB to see what they were up to for the occasion. They were celebrating by featuring brews from Green Flash Brewing. I hadn’t had anything from Green Flash in a while, so I was excited to see what was on tap.
There was certainly no shortage of choices. I decided on the Hop Head Red. This double red IPA brings the hops, certainly, but didn’t take my head off with the bitter burn that normally comes with such a big beer. It poured a deep orange-red color, with creamy white head that really stuck to the glass. There were lots of hops on the smell with a little fruit, though mostly floral aromas came through. At first, it tasted like I was drinking liquified hops, as the bitterness about knocked my palate clean out of my head. In fact, it reminded me a little of Ballast Point’s Tongue Buckler. There was little in the taste of the floweriness that came through on the aroma. It was bitter straight through to the finish. Not a terrible beer, if only for the creaminess of the head, but definitely one I would drink only sparingly.
The second one I tried while at KnB was pretty much the Pièce de résistance of big (huge, really) bourbon barrel aged beers, as far as I am concerned. If you like bourbon, which I do, you will like this beer. At 16.5%, I opted to split this one with a friend and it still left me wanting nothing. Well, maybe a little more, but you know what they say about discretion being the better part of valor and all.
This poured black with dark brown head that dissipated quickly and left the glass clean. The aroma was all bourbon off the top, with some spice notes toward the end. I also got some rich chocolatiness, as well. Moving on to the taste, I knew what to expect: bourbon was all up front, before moving to the chocolate flavors and a little spice on the finish . This was likely from the bourbon, not that I minded.
Good and done with our libations at KnB, we headed inside to see what they had in their fridges. It took me all of a minute to spot the two (yes, I only got two) I wanted: Ninkasi Believer and Ballast Point Homework Series Batch No. 4 Pumpkin Ale. These are easily my two most favorite beers I have ever had (and I am making a note here) EVER!
The red comes from my favorite brewery, so you know it is good. It poured a dark red, with foamy head that sticks around a little while, though not on the sides of the glass. The smell is of roasted malts, with just a touch of hoppy bittersweet aromas. The taste is much the same, with a nice refreshing quality that may have been helped by the slight hoppiness to lighten things up a bit. All in all, a really good beer.
Then– oh then– I came to the Ballast Point Pumpkin Ale. This is far and away the best pumpkin ale I have had to date. None of my expectations came close before trying this one. It poured dark red-brown with lots of carbonation and quickly dissipating white head. It did not smell too sweet and had a little spice and some bitterness that gave me hope beyond hope that this pumpkin ale was not like any other. The taste confirmed that it was not. The first thing I tasted was a slightly sweet spiciness with some vegetable-like bitterness to follow and heavy carbonation to break it up. The carbonation dissipates quickly to allow the light sweetness to come back through on the finish with a hint of warm malts and some lingering bitterness. In case it was not obvious, I really enjoyed this beer. So much so, I am bringing the very two bottles you see together above to Thanksgiving Day dinner in a couple of weeks. A perfect compliment to a turkey dinner, methinks.
That wraps up SDBW2014 Day 2. Check back tomorrow for Day 3 goings on!
In my continuing celebration of fall, I came across one from one of my favorite breweries. Coronado’s Punk’in Drublic Imperial Pumpkin Ale is just an ok example of this paragon of the fall season. I have had a number of regular pumpkin ales, but never the “imperial” kind. Turns out, this makes little difference to the actual taste, at least in this case.
Punk’in Drublic pours a pleasing dark red color with large bubbles in the carbonation and the quickly dissolving head that is characteristic of this kind of beer. The first thing I smelled was a sweetness. “Uh oh,” I thought. “This is the standard pumpkin pie ale I always seem to find, instead of one that actually tastes like pumpkin.” Luckily, I was wrong on that, though it did not necessarily make it a better beer.
It didn’t taste as sweet as the smell indicated it might be. It was very mild, with some bitterness up front. Then a little malty sweetness came through, moving back to the bitterness lasting through the finish. That was about it for the experience of this beer.
Last Thursday I went to my friendly neighborhood brewery/bar KnB Wine Cellars. I’ve written about them before and I continue to love this place more each time I go. This time I went for the third day of their 4 day long 5-year anniversary celebration. To commemorate this day they were tapping 3 of their own test batches, along with some new menu items. Since I love everything that I’ve tried on their regular menu (so far), I was pretty excited to try anything new they had to offer and they did not disappoint. Come along and let me take you on a little journey…
First up, I ordered a Figueroa Mountain Davy Brown (6% abv). This has a smooth, creamy head, with a medium-dark color. The taste is nutty and creamy, with light hints of caramel and a noticeable caramel aftertaste.
Next I wanted to try each of their KnB Test Batch beers, #3, #4 and #5. I didn’t get to try #1 or #2, which appear to have been IPAs (here is the only “review” of #2 I was able to find). I wanted to start low to high on the alcohol content and still be sober enough to enjoy them. I thought the best way to do this would be to order their beer flight sampler, which is pictured above.
I started the sampler with Test Batch #4, which was a saison (8.1% abv). This beer is a dark yellow, cloudy and very fizzy. The head loosely laces the glass and doesn’t stick around long. The characteristic sour smell of this beer may be off putting to some, but I found it kind of refreshing. Also, the sour taste of lemon and grapefruit, with a little peach mixed in was pretty good. The tart aftertaste stuck around a while and while it was not unpleasant, I felt like heartburn was likely. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen.
Then I went to Test Batch #3, an American strong ale (9.0% abv). A dark burnt orange and semi opaque, I was really looking forward to this beer. I waited too long to get to this one and the head had all but disappeared, but that didn’t seem to take away from the taste at all. It had a semi-sweet, very rich flavor. Its high alcohol content was really apparent cutting through after the initial sweetness. The aftertaste was about the same, though I was feeling the effects of the alcohol by then, so it may have just clouded my taste buds.
Next, I tried the Test Batch#5, an imperial stout (11.2% abv). This was super dark, with a semi-sweet, sugary smell. I again waited too long (20 mins) to get a good look at the full head, but what was left held lightly to glass. The taste was very rich and sweet, with brown sugar and mild spice (cinnamon?). The heavy, sweet aftertaste of caramel was appropriate for such a big beer, but in the end, the sweetness was just a bit overpowering for me.
I was going to stop there, but there was a Shipyard Smasher Pumpkin (9.0% abv) right there on the menu, taunting me. I couldn’t help myself. This beauty poured a surprisingly bright orange color, with an off-white, medium creamy head. It smelled sweet and spicy, with a noticeable pumpkin aroma. It had a very creamy feel to it and tasted a bit creamy as well. I could easily pick out brown sugar, pumpkin, cloves, a little cinnamon- pretty much pumpkin pie in a glass. The cinnamon aftertaste with some brown sugar and clove finished the beer nicely.
I should point out that while I don’t pretend to be a professional, or even experienced beer reviewer, I am able to pick out certain common elements. I may not always use the “correct” terms, but I hope it’s apparent that I do love and truly appreciate beer. Which beers are you most excited about?