Posts Tagged Pumpkin
With Halloween behind us, we welcome the holiday beers, which include lots of vanilla stouts, coffee porters and pumpkin beers. A lot of people bemoan this time of year for the beers it brings about, but I fully support it. Like the inexplicable excitement for Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, I happen to think it gets people more into the holiday spirit. So, it is with excitement and hope that I find some worthwhile seasonal flavors out there that I embark on another holiday beer season.
In my seemingly never-ending quest to find a non-pie tasting pumpkin beer, I happened across a good one at Mission Brewing. They were pouring a seasonal brew “creatively” called Mission Pumpkin Amber (5% abv): It poured rich amber in color, with tiny bubbles and creamy white head. It smelled mild, malty and slightly bitter. My hope was that this bitterness came from the pumpkin, of course. It tasted just as mild and malty as the smell led me to believe. A sort of vegetal bitterness came next (again hopes were for pumpkin). The middle was still mild and light-medium-bodied, with light carbonation. It finished light and was quite refreshing, with a bit of the vegetable-like bitterness trailing. Naturally, I was amazed that flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg and the like were not allowed to the party.
So, in my continuing celebration of all things (beer) fall, I went with another recommendation by the same BevMo employee who suggested the pumpkin ale from Unita Brewing. This one comes from Delaware brewery Dogfish Head Craft Brew Ales. This is another one I have not had too often and it’s no wonder why: this beer came in a 4-pack of 12 oz bottles for over twelve bucks! Now, I’ve been around the beer scene long enough to know how this works, but this is just a little too budgetarily (yeah, I made that one up) lofty for me to pick up regularly. But enough about me; on to the beer!
Punkin Ale poured a surprisingly light golden color, with fizzy off white head. I’m no expert in pumpkin ale brewing, but these seem to all resemble soda in the glass, with lots of active carbonation that makes them come alive on the pour. The smell was sour up front, with some fruity notes and a touch of spice. Not much maltiness came through on the taste, but the effervescence gave it a nice lively kick. Then came a refreshing sourness that was not at all out-of-place. The vegetable bitterness from the pumpkin didn’t come on until the end, with helped take away the sourness to leave a nice clean finish.
Much like the pumpkin offering from Unita, I liked this beer, as it also avoided the sweetness I have found so often in other pumpkin beers. Despite that, I have to give the edge to Unita and am giving this beer a:
First of all, I have to say that I know this is not an Oktoberfest brew, but it is a seasonal pumpkin ale from a brewery that was relatively unknown to me, Salt Lake City-based Unita Brewing Co. They are focused on showcasing local Utah landmarks with beers such as Cutthroat Pale Ale and King’s Peak Porter. I found out about them by asking my local BevMo if there is in existence a pumpkin beer that is not flavored like pumpkin pie. To me, pumpkin- the squash (it is a squash; I looked it up) not the dessert made from it- should not be sweet. A particularly enthusiastic employee at BevMo knew exactly what I was talking about and recommended Unita’s Punk’n ale. I was equally as excited, so I went right home to try it.
It pours a very fizzy, clear amber with large bubbles and off white head that dissipates very quickly. The aromas were not particularly strong, but included earthiness, bitterness and a slight spiciness. The taste was somewhat creamy and mild, with almost no sweetness, much to my gleeful surprise. It was mostly bitter, not big on malts, but still gave the impression of a maltiness from both how mild it was and the overall smooth, somewhat starchy mouthfeel. This was broken up by the heavy-ish carbonation and a lingering bitterness.
Overall, I was very happy with this beer, as it avoided the overly-sweetened dessert drink I have typically had. Because of this, I am giving this beer a:
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?