Brews and Boos

Pumpkin Beers PicIts October and the parade of pumpkin flavored beers has started down the beer aisle of your favorite stores and watering holes.  Who came up with the idea to put pumpkin in beer anyway?  The answer to that question may never be known completely, but one thing is certain there are a number of them out and about, and I’ve seen many of them reviewed on the various beer blogs this season, this one included!  It seems since beer was first brewed people (guys mostly from what I can tell in my research) have been trying to change, improve, and generally mess with the flavor that barley, hops, yeast and water produce.  I have seen everything from pumpkin brews to beer fermenting in pumpkins!  So there are any number of craft breweries and home brewers out there trying to come up with the perfect blend of grains and pumpkin to produce the best seasonal ale.  Well I may have found it…

Pumpkin BeerThe Pumpkin Ale from Buffalo Bills Brewery in Hayward, California is that ale.  This 5.2 ABV brew poured golden, orange, and cloudy like you would expect a pumpkin brew to be.  It had a small creamy colored head that dissipated quickly with no lacing. Its nose was subtle with hops, malt, and a tinge of pumpkin.  The smell of alcohol also was enticing, a pleasant surprise for a 5.2 brew.

When I first took a sip I was met by a very well balanced brew with equal amounts of hops and barley malt flavor, not bad in its own right, but on the back side was the pumpkin.  Very slight at first and then it intensified some and then went away as quickly as it appeared.  It was pleasant, but not as pumpkin flavored as I was expecting.  Then I remembered what happened to Jim when he reviewed Dogfish Head’s pumpkin ale, and I let it warm up a bit.  This reordered the flavors, but only intensified them slightly.  As the ale warmed the pumpkin flavor was more in front, but still a little understated, with the well balanced hops and malt to follow.  All in all it was a very good beer.  One I will buy again, and might make a regular part of my seasonal drink purchases.

One thing I have learned in doing my research is that most craft breweries have a pumpkin brew.  I know we are from different parts of the country so what do you drink in the Autumn?  There are so many choices out there I’m interested to know what people migrate to when the leaves change and the goblins come out!

-Don

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6 Comments on “Brews and Boos”

  1. October 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    I guess they fill a niche… my personal opinion, one that I don’t think needs to be filled, but then again I’m not a pumpkin/squash person. Admittedly I have not had Buffalo Bills, they tout themselves as the “original” pumpkin beer or at least the first commercial pumpkin beer. Pumpkin beer just came out of nowhere in the last 15 years or so, but breweries wouldn’t make them if people were not buying them…

    This year Simplybeer reviewed 6 pumpkin beers all in one shot on our Beer Brawl Podcast – Post Road Pumpkin Ale, Wolaver’s Will Steven’s Pumpkin Ale, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Southern Tier Imperial Pumking. While the Dogfish Head was pretty good I just reaffirmed why I don’t drink this style of beer. If I had to do it spread out over a couple of weeks, I don’t think i would have made it! It would have been nice to include the self proclaimed “original”, Buffalo Bills, but I haven’t seen it in North jersey.

    • Don
      October 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

      Well if you don’t like pumpkin or squash, chances are you won’t like pumpkin beer either! I have to come clean here, since I am the Whiskey guy and received this as part of a birthday gift, this is actually the first pumpkin beer I have ever had. That said, I thought it was smartly brewed. It had good flavor, and the underlying ale was very well crafted. That probably makes all the difference with pumpkin beer, if the beer is good, the pumpkin just adds a seasonal flavor note that a lot of people like this time of year.

  2. October 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    I tried this one last week (review is in the bin for later) Of all the pumpkin ales I’ve tried I thought this was the worst! I like the idea of pumpkin ales, but most seem to fall short of my expectations somehow (yet I keep trying them!). If this was the first pumpkin ale I ever tried, I would run, not walk away from pumpkin ales forever! To me, it was too ‘vegetabley’ tasting. Very weird compared to others, but perhaps that’s why it stands out.

    • Don
      October 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

      You know Scott, this is interesting, because I think people’s taste buds are all different. That is why I can read reviews of the same beer and some are similar, and some are very different. I actually liked it. I didn’t taste vegetables like you did, but mostly malt and hops with a hint of pumpkin. Perhaps it has to do with expectation, because i read your write up on Post road Pumpkin ale, and thought this would be similar, like pumpkin pie, but was happily surprised that the flavor was much lighter and more squashy rather than pie-y. Perhaps it is just what you like. I love squash and fresh squash, and this had a hint of that flavor to me, in a very well balanced ale base. BTW, when I say well balanced, that doesn’t mean good, it just means equal malt and hops, I’m kind of a hop head myself and like a more bitter beer. This, however, I thought was good and refreshing.

      -Don

  3. October 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    I think its interesting as well. For example, I have a really hard time appreciating IPAs. I just can’t get into them! I think the biggest idea people should come away with from sites like ours – taste is in the mouth of the beholder!

    At the least, people will hopefully be interested in trying new beers out for themselves and make up their own minds.

    • Don
      October 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

      I agree Scott. As long as we are divulging our inner most thoughts here (about beer at least) I really love the flavor of Amber beers, but have to stay away from them because they give me hot flashes, and I sweat like a pig about 15 minutes into the pour. It must be an allergic reaction of some sort. Some times I just say to hell with it, and drink it anyway, but it is unpleasant enough to keep me away from ambery beers mostly. BTW I love IPAs. Lots of hops and bitter flavor! Oh Yeah!

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