Hello everybody and tis the season for pumpkin beer! Around Oktoberfest time, many breweries start shoveling out their avant-garde beers that are supposed to celebrate this season of harvest. And what I mean by ‘avant-garde’ is…well…pumpkin beer.
Pumpkin beer is highly controversial in the beer snob world. Some think pumpkin beer is just kitschy crap that no real beer advocate should like, others think it is a fun treat for the autumn season.
Pumpkins as a whole are not considered a hand fruit, which truly means pumpkins on their own do not taste good. So when people create things based on the pumpkin, such as pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin burgers, spices are needed to enhance the flavor. Pumpkin beer is no different. Typically cinnamon and nutmeg are used in mass quantity to help out the natural foul flavor of the pumpkin. Stouts and porters are the usual baseline beer that is used for the pumpkin beer.
So your main question is ‘are any of these beers really any good’? Well, let’s find out………..
1. Sam Adams - Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale
8.5% ABV 25 IBU
Sam Adams is considered the largest craft brewery in the US. This is sort of misleading because to be classified as a ‘craft brewery’, there is a threshold of beer production; too much distribution puts you in a higher category. Sam Adams is that that upper limit on purpose. Regardless, although they are out of my least favorite place in the world (Boston), their beer is usually pretty good. This is no exception. Fat Jack is delicious. It is one of the best seasonals I’ve ever had. Dark smokey malt, strong nutmeg and cinnamon flavor, and a 8.5% punch means this beer has all you want for a pumpkin beer. The best part; no pumpkin flavor in it. Well, maybe not completely true, but it is heavy on the spices. This is a great thick brew that I wish would continue post November 1.
2. Elysian - Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout
6.5% ABV 20 IBU
Another quality beer from the good folks at Elysian. Their more popular pumpkin offering, Night Owl Ale, is also very good. But this one is better. Deeper, darker, chocolatey, and smoother that silk, Dark O’ The Moon is a great beer. If you like stouts, if you like roasted flavors, and if you like stuff made of pumpkins, then definitely give this one a swig. Again, once November 1 hits, all of these bottles will be pulled off the shelf like they never existed. So sad.
3. New Belgium - Pumpkick
6% ABV 18 IBU
Another fine fare from the brew boys at New Belgium. Pumpkick is quite a bit lighter than the previous two beers listed, but it is no slouch. Yes, it has that familiar nutmeg and cinnamon flavor that we all like (or should like), but it also has a ‘kick’ of cranberry. Pretty cool? It turns out that it is cool! It makes this brew taste a bit different from the rest and really works for this. If you like lighter beers and really crave a pumpkin-based beer, this is the one for you. As for me, I like my liquid a bit thicker.
4. Shock Top - Pumpkin Wheat
5.1% ABV No IBU
Garbage. Absolute garbage. I was so happy with the previous libations, then this wheat-based guy slips in the fold. Shock Top is great a creating piss-based garbage, and now they are out to ruin my pumpkin high. Pumpkin Wheat…….more like Pumpkin Cheat….like they are cheating my taste buds out of a better beer. Yeah, not my best, but I’m tired.
Anyway, if you like the hefe scene and need a pumpkin thing in your mouth, go with this. But wheats suck, so just don’t.
5. Rogue - Pumpkin Patch Ale
6.1% ABV 25 IBU
I like Rogue. I really do. But honestly, when you have one pumpkin beer, you have had most. This one tastes like all of the other pumpkin beer I have had. Maybe since I had this one last, all of the residue tastes from the previous beers are interfering with this one. But I really don’t think so. I like these spiced-up pumpkin beer. I know I am a snob, and some snobs hate this stuff, but I like it. However I have had too many of these. I am tired of robust cinnamon and nutmeg taste. I have had enough of the roasted pumpkin flavor baked in the beer.
Pumpkin Patch is a good beer. But my mouth needs a rest from this stuff. Where is some candy corn?