beer reviews Beer styles

Pumpkin ales

Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Post Road Pumpkin Ale

From reading US beer blogs, I get the impression that pumpkin beers are quite big over there. Apparently, the early Colonists turned to pumpkins to bulk out the barley, or something like that. At any rate, they’re a novelty over here.

We picked up Post Road Pumpkin Ale at Beer Exposed. It’s in the Brooklyn Brewery’s line of historic ales, so it’s branded a little differently. The overwhelming smell was spices (cinnamon and nutmeg at a guess). Unfortunately, what was a lovely smell translated into a rather unbalanced beer — really quite acrid from all the spice, with a thin body.

So we weren’t expecting a lot from Hall & Woodhouse’s seasonal Pumpkin Ale. We’re not massive fans of the Badger brewery products, particularly their “flavoured” beers, and particularly when they’re not fresh. This one had been sitting in our stash for around nine months, so the omens weren’t good. Well, that just goes to show how wrong you can be, as this is a lovely beer. Interestingly, it smelled of bananas, and the flavour was a bit like a less sickly, slightly spicier weissbier but with an ale-like mouthfeel and condition. And it was in excellent condition too, despite filtering, pasteurisation and our idiosyncratic cellaring methods. At 4.6%, it’s a bit weaker than the Brooklyn effort, but had a great rocky, long-lasting head. Excellent stuff, highly recommended.


7 replies on “Pumpkin ales”

That’s weird. I’ve been planning a pumpkin ale for the past few weeks, but as my mash tun is not finished (long story), today I did (am actually still doing) an almost-the-same-only-using-extract-and-with-no-pumpkin recipe 😀 I decided to do a christmas spiced ale for the first time, so we’ll see.

The only pumpkin beer I remember having was the Wychwood Pumpking, which was tasty, but cerainly not noticibly pumpkiny or spicey for that matter. Just a touch.

I think I’d like to make one as part of the experiment to see if my German colleagues would take to a beer which is well away from following the gebot, but not as obvious as a fruit beer 😉

I don’t see myself as a spiced or flavored beer lover, but I figured I’d give the pumpkin ales a try this year. I didn’t make it to the Brooklyn, but I tried Dogfish Head and Weyerbacher. All I can say is, no thanks.

As an American, I can say that I’m not all that impressed with most of these pumpkin ales. There are a few that have been close to tasty, but many seem to fall into the unbalanced/acrid category which you describe. This especially goes for the Weyerbacher “Imperial” Pumpkin Ale that Keith mentioned. Not sure why imperialization was warranted; I feel like nobody’s really mastered the diminuitive version yet.

Still, some small part of me holds out hope. I love pumpkin pie, but am not completely sold on pumpkin beer. This has me thinking that I may need to brew up my own batch if I want it to exhibit these features. A veritable “put up or shut up”, if you will…

I guess maybe it’s similar to a lot of Christmas beers here, where brewers just add a load of spices. Sometimes you get a good one, but you really don’t need to add a lot of spices before it becomes unbalanced.

I really enjoyed the Wychwood Pumpking as well. Pumpkins just don’t taste of much, but the nutmeg in it worked really well, I thought (the “kindly soul” mentioned in my comment is, in fact, Adeptus). Definitely have to keep an eye out for the Badger version.

I’m not a huge fan of them either – I think its more of a marketing thing to extent the whole Oktoberfest idea. Anyway, the Pumpkin Ales are hit-and-miss at best but I did have one recently from Smuttynose out of New Hampshire that wasn’t too bad.

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