A Craft Beer Trick or Treat Guide, Pumpkin Ale Style

Fall is not only here but making itself comfortable, and Halloween is a mere couple days away.  Real pumpkins on porches, paper cut out pumpkins taped to doors and windows, plastic pumpkins hollowed out for ideal candy storage by the truckload and just about every other possible way to honor the orange fall gourd have descended upon us faster than the leaves could begin falling to the ground.  This time of year even holds something special for those of us who enjoy the occasional seasonal beer.  Beginning roughly in September and running through fall, pumpkin ales also are given their due place on store shelves for those who look forward to their wide variety of flavors – and to those folks who haven’t tried them just yet – “Wait…wait.  There’s a pumpkin flavored beer?”  If you are one of those willing to try pumpkin ales, or have tried them before and still enjoy tasting various interpretations from different breweries, the season for them is not yet over.  Pumpkin ales can still be found on those store shelves, and here in Roanoke, many restaurants which year round dedicate themselves to carrying good and different beer are still featuring them on tap.  After all, and with due respect to Linus, doesn’t searching for the Great Pumpkin while sitting warmly inside at your favorite pub sound better than waiting all night in a pumpkin patch?

So as we head towards All Hallows Eve, I thought I’d mention a couple I’ve had this year that I’ve personally enjoyed, and I’d also run down the list of stops around town where these curious ales have made their way to.  Consider it the craft beer fan’s guide to the best “houses” to stop at this Halloween weekend for treats only available this time of year.  To those unsure or new to these beers, go with an open mind – there are lots of variations on the “style”.  Generally speaking, they are not “hoppy” or bitter at all, and at the least are well balanced if not somewhat sweet, malty ales that taste wise, fit in well with the season.  The best ones taste a little like a good pumpkin pie of sorts, that is, with alcohol present.  They very often have some amount of pumpkin pie type spices added – nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice are all typical, and of course have had pumpkin added during brewing, either with cut up pieces of actual pumpkin or by adding puree.  Personally, the best Pumpkin ales feature all of these flavors in a balanced package, with no one spice or taste dominating over another, or with the spices simply hanging out in the background instead of being front and center.  At any rate, here’s a guide of the best pumpkin “patches” around town!

Lucky Restaurant – New Holland Brewing’s Ichabod Pumpkin Ale.  A good introduction to Pumpkin Ales, this one has a nice pumpkin pie/spice aroma and taste wise is a little spice-forward.  Definitely worth trying.

Horizon Bar and Grill – Brooklyn Brewery’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale – A long time favorite among Pumpkin Ales with a B+ grade on beeradvocate.com.

Others that you may be able to still find on store shelves and that are excellent examples, as well as personal favorites, are Heavy Seas’ Great Pumpkin and Greater Pumpkin, Southern Tier’s Pumking Ale, Dogfish Head’s annual favorite Punkin’, and Saranac’s Pumpkin Ale.  A brand new favorite I found this season is Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin Ale.

Time is running a little short on Pumpkin Ales, as the season always slows down around the end of October, but this weekend, of all weekends, makes for maybe the best time to jump into them.  No plastic candy filled pumpkins are necessary, but if you want to dress up, I’m sure that would be fine.  It’s a adult and craft beer fan’s Halloween weekend – no pumpkin patch needed.

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~ by thebeerroad on October 29, 2011.

One Response to “A Craft Beer Trick or Treat Guide, Pumpkin Ale Style”

  1. If you like Pumpkins… and can still find it, give Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale a shot. it’s quite sweet. I saw they had a Firkin set up where the Imperial Pumpkin was poured through a pumpkin and served. Very cool.

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