Now that it is officially October I thought it would be a good time to talk about a seasonal favorite of mine, pumpkin beers. I know that there is a lot of hate for this style but I think it is unwarranted. Of course there are some lesser examples of pumpkin brews but I think the good ones need more respect. Understandably, people get very upset when they see Fall and pumpkin beers on the shelves in August, it is no different than decorating for Christmas in October. This jumping of the gun turns a lot of drinkers off to the style in general which I think is a damn shame.
Besides arriving in stores in the summer, a bad pumpkin beer can be an understandable turn off to the style. There are plenty of weak pumpkins that give the style a bad rap, I get it. It does bother me when someone is down on pumpkins but they're only basing that off of Jack's Pumpkin Spice. Just last night at The Craft Beer Outlet I had a number of customers who had had Jack's but were looking for something more flavorful and I recommended some of my favorites. By the end of the night we were all sold out of Fegley's Devious and Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin, two much more impressive brews. Just like any other style of beer, there are great examples and there are unfortunate examples of it, try more than one before you write off all of them.
There are few things I enjoy more than sitting by a fire on a brisk Autumn eve with a glass of good pumpkin brew. Throw some Neil Young on ('Harvest Moon' should do the trick) and you'll be set for a great night. The spices and flavors obviously go perfectly with this type of weather, no one can deny that. A lot of folks also complain about the lack of actual pumpkin in these beers. I think this is simply a marketing/semantics snafu. Nobody would want a beer that actually tastes like pumpkin, they're not that tasty by themselves. It's when the touch of pumpkin aroma and flavor mixes with other various spices that you really get that warm and fuzzy feeling of Fall.
I say give these worthy beers another shot if you've had bad experiences in the past. They can be a delicious treat for this time of year. I understand that they seem to be a bit of a fad and marketing ploys by the bigger companies but there are some great beers that you'll miss out on if you avoid the style. Grab a few bottles to share with friends and enjoy. They also make a great beer for your Thanksgiving dinner!
For a chance to try a wide variety of pumpkin brews, check out The Institute's 2nd Annual Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Event this Saturday. Pumpkin beers take over the taps and the menu. I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed my trek through the pumpkin patch.
- Jack's Pumpkin Spice
- Saranac Pumpkin Ale
- Post Road Pumpkin Ale
- Wolaver's Will Steven's Pumpkin Ale
- Harvest Moon
Pumpkin Brews To Pursue:
- Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
- Dogfish Head Punkin
- Elysian Night Owl
- Southern Tier Pumking
- Fegley's Devious
- Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale