Forget Trick or Treating, For Halloween Let Local Roots Line Up The Pumpkin Ales For You

Local Roots Restaurant, Roanoke, VaPerhaps no type of beer lends itself as easily to a blind taste sampling as Pumpkin Ales.  From one to another, the primary variables of such beers are pretty consistent with the common inclusion of pumpkin pie like spices and the addition of pumpkin itself, but change ever so slightly with the treatment given to those ingredients by the individual brewery.  For example, which spices and how much of each one; pureed pumpkin or whole, and roast the flesh or not; and on the outer periphery, some breweries barrel age their pumpkin ales, but again, in what kinds of barrels?  To say the ingredients are the completely the same is a bit of a stretch, as each beer of course is also defined by the various types and amounts of malts and hops used, as with any beer.  But let’s face it, pumpkin ales are defined by the addition of the orange gourd and moreover, by the spicing used, and lining several up at one time is a bit like being a judge on one of those Food TV chef competition shows – everyone got exactly the same ingredients, but what each chef, or brewer in this case, did with those ingredients might be completely different from one dish to the next.  The drinker then gets to find out what he or she likes about the style, or what they don’t – sweeter or not so, heavier in body or lighter, heavier spicing or less, and so on.

It is in this spirit that Local Roots Restaurant is celebrating the Pumpkin Ale style by putting on several pumpkin ales and letting the customer, if they choose, compare them – blindly.  Personally, I’ve done this with pumpkin ales on a couple of occasions, as have some of my friends, and as with any blind tasting, you just may surprise yourself with what you discover.  A beer you might not have given a second glance may become a favorite, or it may completely reinforce what you already expected of it.  Either way, blind tasting of similar beers gives us the chance to try examples of a style without discretion – whatever opinion you have of a brewery, for example, by tasting their example blindly, cannot influence your assessment of the beer.  After that comes arguably the best part of such a tasting, figuring out the ‘why’ you cared for one beer over another.  Just what was it that drew you to your favorite?   The answer, of course, gives you an idea of what you like and don’t like about that particular style and possibly others, and serves as a blueprint, or a map, to help guide you to simiilar beers you may love as well.

The Local Roots Pumpkin Ale Tasting, 10/29 through 10/31.

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~ by thebeerroad on October 30, 2013.

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