That Time of Year Again: I Don’t Like Pumpkin Beer and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

September 30, 2012

Ugh, I will never learn. I don’t like pumpkin beers that try to taste like a liquid pumpkin pie. I never have and I never will, yet every year someone tempts me with their pumpkin offering, and like the beer sucker that I am, I try it, and then throw my hands up in disgust and say “I don’t like pumpkin beers that try to taste like liquid pumpkin beer.”

This year it is Sam Adams with their Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Beer. Not just a single pumpkin, but DOUBLE pumpkin…what the hell was I thinking?

As soon as I opened this bottle, and got hit with that allspice and cinnamon and nutmeg and brown sugar aroma, I knew this was not going to end well for me. The flavor was similar to the aroma, just a bit more muddled. On the plus side, it was sort of bland and thin tasting for a beer with ‘double’ in the name, but that is about all I can say for it. Those of you who like pumpkin pie beers may like this, but for those who do not, stay away, 4.5/10.

I will be back next year, with another installment of The Pumpkin Beer Chronicles.

The label is sort of cool at least

Pumpkin Beers: I Found One That I Really Like, Sort Of

October 11, 2011

I dislike most pumpkin beers.  Most of them try to create the illusion that you are drinking a glass of pumpkin pie, so they tend to be sweet and loaded with nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar and cloves.  Dogfish Head makes a good (but not great) pumpkin beer, and they manage it by being subtle with the flavor profile and muting those spice flavors, which is unusual for them.  All of these attempts at a liquid pumpkin pie trompe l’oeil effect are unnecessary.  There is a long tradition in American brewing, dating back to the earliest settlers, of using pumpkin as a source of fermentable sugar in the mash.  While it appears that the use of pumpkins in those days was born of necessity rather than flavor, I would like to see the better American brewers move away from the spicy sweet pumpkin pie ales, and try their hand at making a true pumpkin beer.

Neither Cisco Brewers’ Pumple Drumkin nor Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale are what I am looking for in a pumpkin beer.  The Pumple  Drumkin pours a deep copper, and the nutmeg, cinnamon and clove is right up front in the nose and the taste, with the brown sugar coming in on the aftertaste.  Cisco does not over spice this beer, so I do not find it as objectionable as other samples of the style, but they still go for that pumpkin pie effect.  This beer is subtler than other pumpkin beers, but nothing great, 6/10.

Weyerbacher makes no attempt at subtlety with their Imperial Pumpkin Ale.  It is aggressively spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamon, and even the 8% ABV does not cut the brown sugar sweetness.  If you like heavily spiced pumpkin beers, this is the beer for you.  If, like me, you do not, stay away from this one, 4/10.

Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead is a bit closer to what I am looking for.  The nutmeg and cinnamon are faint, while the pumpkin flavor is more pronounced, and there is a honey like sweetness to it that is a nice change of pace from the standard brown sugar flavor profile in pumpkin beers. This is not a great beer, but it is one of the few pumpkin beers that I would open a second bottle of, so it gets a 6.5/10.

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