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Tis the season for pumpkin brews

  • MVNYC Oct 6, 2006 06:26 PM
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I happen to love one or two six packs of pumpkin ale a year. What are some peoples favourites?

I used to like Dogfish head's but i have not seen it out here in SoCal. Same with Post Road. I am looking for a new one i can get in San Diego.

Thanks

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  1. By far Smuttynose Pumpkin is my favorite. Most pumpkin beers are hard to drink more than one since they are usually cloying - too sweet and too many spices and without the spices would be boring. The base beer for Smutty pumpkin is interesting in itself, has some hop character, and the spices aren't overdone.

    I also enjoyed Elysian Night owl pumpkin last year - nice carmalized/roasted pumpkin flavors. Locally (boston) Cambridge Brewing Co. usually does a good job each year.

    Mine is tasting pretty good this year also.

    1. You're in luck to be in San Diego - Alpine makes a great pumpkin ale called Ichabod Ale. You'll probably have to head out to Alpine to get some, but it's worth the drive.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        Thanks for the responses everyone. Josh as per your suggestion i am going to the Holiday wine cellars in escondido tomorrow. Might they have this there?

        1. re: MVNYC

          No, they don't stock Alpine. The sad fact is that Alpine is owned by a guy who's a full-time fire captain, so their production and distro are very limited. I've only ever seen their bottles in Alpine, either at the brewery or the liquor store down the road by the freeway exit.

          If you like German beer, definitely do check out Holiday's selection of those. I've had some really amazing ones from their selection. There's one, I forget the name but the label is light blue and white. It's made by a brewer who normally makes rauchbier, and it has just a hint of smoke to the flavor.

      2. shipyard pumpkin is tasty, and quite pumpkin-y, but not too tasty, if i remember. stone cat (an ipswich product) also makes a pumpkin porter- yum!

        however, i'm afraid that neither of these might be available on the west coast... worth looking into, however.

        shipyard on bevmo: http://www.bevmo.com/productinfo.asp?...

        2 Replies
        1. re: melle76

          I agree, of the four pumpkin beers I've tried out here in Baltimore, Shipyard is the best over-all. Post Road is a close second, suprisingly Blue Moon is third (usually a week nutmeg flavor, but more full bodied this year) and last is Saranac. This is the first year I've seen a Saranac, but it had an unnatural aftertaste.

          I didn't spring for the Dogfish pumpkin because it was $8.00 for a 4 pack.

          1. re: chesapeakesun

            Wow, I really have to disagree with you guys on Shipyard. I couldn't believe that any pumpkin beer could be more mediocre than Buffalo Bills.

            This pours beautifully with a lovely pumpkin spice aroma and a thick head. Then both are gone as quick as the ghost of the headless horseman on the bottle. All that is left is metalic-tasting, slightly clove-y verson of ... well, it reminded me of Bud.

            No bitterness, no body, no taste ... except bad.

            I live in SF, so unfortunately it is available on the West Coast. Maybe not a good traveler.

        2. I've tried the Dogfish this year and it's good but not great. I agree with the comment about the Blue Moon, very good this year and better, I think, than the Dogfish Head.

          The bartender was telling me something about this being a bad year for sweet pumpkins and that might contribute to the quality of the pumpkin ales this year.

          6 Replies
          1. re: joypirate

            I had thought the pumpkin added very little to flavor, and that the spices did the heavy lifting in that regard. Can anyone shed more light on this?

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              Excellent point Jim. I prefer a pumpkin pie taste, so nutmeg and other spices do the heavy lifting, but that by itself doesn't make a good pumpkin beer IMHO. It needs a decent pumpkin flavor. That is why I'm putting Shipyard at the top of my list. It is closest to pumpkin pie that I have tasted this year.

              And to Joypirate's comment, every year the flavors change in the respective breweries. Maybe it is the pumpkins, or maybe it is messing with the recipe. The best pumpkin ale ever (IMHO) was Post Road 4 years ago.

              1. re: chesapeakesun

                Post RD 4 years ago was the best of all time IMHO. I picked up Buffalo BIlls pumpkin ale this week. Mediocre at best

              2. re: Jim Dorsch

                For most pumpkin beers I've had, I would say yes, the spices are the main flavoring ingredient. My experiences have been that use of raw pumpkin in the mash, gives little flavor, but lends a little bitterness and a back end dryness similar to the effects of rye malt. Roasted pumpkin on the other hand does give a subtle nutty flavor similar to roasted acorn squash. It really depends on how much is used and when it is added in the process, and if the spices are covering up the subtle pumpkin flavors. If it tastes like pumpkin pie, you are tasting the spices, and not so much the pumpkin.

                I doubt the quality of pumpkins is effecting pumpkin beers. Hopefully no one is using rotted pumpkins - the ones that are not rotted are fine. Plus most commercial brewers are probably using canned pumpkin anyway.

                It is hard to make a pumpkin beer exactly the same year after year. Spices will be slightly different from year to year just like a new crop of hops is different from year to year. And it is hard to determine the intensity of the spices before they are used, so spicing levels will most likely differ from year to year.

                1. re: LStaff

                  The Alpine pumpkin ale uses a lot of pumpkin, though I'm not sure at which point in the process it's added. I like it because it's not too heavy on the spices and sweetness, but instead really tastes like pumpkin.

                  1. re: LStaff

                    Just tried my bottle of Buffalo Bill Brewery's pumpkin ale. Don't know much about beer so I like to look around on the web and see what other people think.

                    Anyway, found this interesting page on a home brewing site that intereviews three breweries about the pumpkin beer ...
                    - Mt. Hood
                    - Buffalo Bill’s Brewery
                    - New Holland Brewing
                    http://byo.com/departments/816.html

                    Interesting that Buffalo Bill's uses fresh pumpkin and roast it. Usually it doesn't taste like much to me, but this year it was better. It has a nice deep red/orage color, lovely smell and spicieness with the clove the most noticable.

                    So much better than that wimpy Shipyard Brewing Pumpkinhead. I gotta agree with this blog about pumpkins that ranked it at the bottom saying ...

                    "The Shipyard Brewing Company’s Pumpkinhead Ale, which tastes as much like pumpkin as it probably tastes like head"

                    They ranked Buffalo Bill number one. Nice pictures of four pumpkin brews.
                    http://www.pumpkinpassion.com/

                    Yeah ok, it was last year's brews and they waited a few months before doing a pumpkin beer taste-off, but for the two beers I tried, it was pretty accurate for this year.

              3. I had the Dogfish Head pumpkin ale on tap last night at d.b.a. in NYC. I thought it was a nice brew, crisp and clean with a complex taste and only a hint of spice. A drinkable dark brew that I had four pints of, which I would never do with most super spiced cloying holiday brews.

                1. totally agree on Dogfish Punkin and Smuttynose Pumpkin, for clean elegant flavor;
                  totally disappointed by Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale - although so many people like it we found this beer unbalanced and overspiced (i guess it's a matter of preference).

                  Southampton Pumpkin Ale is in the firdge but we haven't tried it yet.

                  1. I had the Southampton Pumpkin this weekend and it is mighty fine. I also like the pumpkin from two NC breweries - Cottonwood and Edenton. The Saranac, much to my surprise, was OK.

                    Other than those, I have been mostly disappointed by the rest of the pumpkins I have tried, including Dogfish Head, Shipyard, Buffalo Bill, Brooklyn and some others.

                    1. Getting into this thread a little late, but I just stumbled across it while searching for pumpkin beer. I'm not usually a fan of pumpkin beer since it seems too sweet to me. I can handle one, but any more and I feel like I ate too much pie at Thanksgiving. Anyway, I was out at the bar last night and tried the Stone Cat Pumpkin Porter. Nice flavor and just a hint of pumpkin. I really enjoyed this beer. I believe it's brewed in Ipswitch, MA, so distribution might not be too wide. I'm thinking about getting some more this weekend and checking the local liquor stores.

                      1. Propeller Brewing, here in Halifax, just released their's last week. Spicey, pumpkin pie-ish, but with some real beer flavour underlying. Just a one brew batch. When it is gone, there is none till next year. Only at the brewery store.

                        1. Man, this thread is making me very sad! I used to be able to get Post Road when I lived in Boston but the last time I had it was four years ago. In SF, the only pumpkin ale we've found is the aforementioned Buffalo Bill's.

                          Last year's batch was not good but this year's is drinking a bit better, still nothing compares to Post Road. We found a Sea Dog Pumpkin ale at Trader Joe's the other day. It's not great. It's got a thin mouthfeel and a sort of lager-y aftertaste.

                          God, I miss the East Coast at this time of year! I've never even seen most of the pumpkin ales mentioned here in SF stores.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Stephanie365

                            Berkeley Bowl had the two I tried. Raley's sells Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale by the folks at Bud which it tastes like. I read all the beer rating sites about this and I think people are halucinating if they find anything pumpkiny about the beer other than the picture of a pumpkin on the label.

                          2. alas, in pumpkins i've only had shipyard, blue moon, and bud's version.

                            shipyard wins out of those three by a landslide.

                            can i just say that i'm really sick of larger retailers (chain grocery stores, ABCs, etc) not carrying nice selections of microbrewers' seasonal beers in in FL. it's like they are owned by bud, coors, miller or something.

                            to get decent selections in central FL one has to drive to places like whole foods market, knightly spirits, big C liquors, hearts homebrew....none of which are very close to me, and all of which are fairly pricey compared to what the more beer-stupid grocery stores will usually charge. ;)

                            even stores that regularly carry sam adams will only carry two or three of the sam adams' offerings.

                            1. Just had Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin on tap at Galapagos, Williamsburg BK last night (they had that, Newcastle Brown, PBR and nothing else)...I was surprised, it was crisp, DRY, nice hop finish, with fairly subtle cinnamon/nutmeg flavors up front. I liked it a lot and had more than one pint, and would have chosen to repeat even if there had been more choices.