I’ve delayed this article for a long time. Some years ago, I promised myself that I wouldn’t write an article about Pumpkin Ales for thefatherlife. My reasoning was because I always felt that a Halloween themed article about beer brewed with flavors of this gourd-like squash was a little bit cliché. It seems like every other beer writer in America is or has written a Pumpkin Ale themed article for Halloween. Well, after some serious deliberation, I’ve changed my mind and have decided that the world needs to know more about this seemingly strange fall brew.
Here is what BeerAdvocate.com has to say about pumpkin ales, since they know much more about the topic than I:
“Often released as a fall seasonal, Pumpkin Ales are quite varied. Some brewers opt to add hand-cut pumpkins and drop them in the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. These beers also tend to be spiced with pumpkin pie spices, like: ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Pumpkin Ales are typically mild, with little to no bitterness, a malty backbone, with some spice often taking the lead. Many will contain a starchy, slightly thick-ish, mouthfeel too. In our opinion, best versions use real pumpkin, while roasting the pumpkin can also add tremendous depth of character for even better results, though both methods are time-consuming and tend to drive brewmasters insane.”
If you’ve never had Pumpkin Ale, you may think that it’s all pumpkin pie and no beer. Well, to be honest, some are a little too strong in the spices and pumpkin flavor, but others are able to achieve the right ratio of beer to pumpkin. I am very timid when it comes to trying new Pumpkin Ales because I like my beer to taste mostly like beer. I at least want it to resemble beer as opposed to a spicy, fizzy pumpkin soda-like beverage.
A quick check of BeerAdvocate.com shows us that many craft breweries have tried their hand at making this autumnal brew. They list 262 different pumpkin ales, even though if you were to pick up ten different brands, there’s a good chance that they would all taste a little different. Another interesting fact, most of the top Pumpkin Ales listed are from the northeast. I’m assume that is because that area of the country most epitomizes fall weather, so beer enthusiasts there are more likely to purchase a beer themed beer, and also, pumpkins are quite prevalent in the area’s farms in autumn.
I decided to sample a few of the more well known craft brewed pumpkin ales as well as one craft style Ale that is deceptively brewed by giant worldwide beer company.
Post Road Pumpkin Ale (5%ABV) from Brooklyn Brewery is one of my favorite’s from this style. This Pumpkin Ale is light orangey, copper in color and has hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and various other spices. None of the spices or pumpkin flavors is over powering. You still wouldn’t want to drink a whole six pack without a buffer or two of a lighter and less intense brew.
Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale (5.6%ABV) from Coors Brewing Company isn’t as bad as you’d expect from a major brewery. I’m a bigger fan of their Blue Moon. This amber colored brew has a strong nutmeg and pumpkin and is decent, but not exceptional in any way.
Punkin’ Ale (7%ABV) from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is a little pricier than most other Pumpkin Ales on the market, but the extra fee is worth it. Even though it is 7% alcohol, this is still a very drinkable beer. It has just the right mix of cloves, nutmeg and pumpkin flavoring.
*On a completely different, but very important note.
My Grandfather, John Oakley, passed away on October 17th at the age of 89. He was one of the biggest influences in my life and is the reason I became a writer. When I was a little kid, he, an avid reader and eloquent writer, noticed that I had a knack for writing creative and goofy stories. His hope was that I would one day parlay that into a career in writing. Whenever I saw him, he would always ask me if I was writing a journal, working on a story or reading a book.
I started writing professionally a little less than four years ago and I was never more proud to show anyone my work than I was to show it to Grandpa Oakley. To know that he was proud of me is worth more than any money I will ever make as a writer.
Nothing I can write here will do him justice, but I’ll try. He was a World War II veteran who flew fifty-one bombing missions, a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps who helped create Sequoia National Park (among others), a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. To me, though, he was and always will be my grandpa.
*One final, much less important note.
Check out the November/December issue of Mutineer Magazine. I wrote an article about wineplusmusic.com. In my bio, in the beginning of the issue, I gave a big shout out to thefatherlife.com. Hopefully that will direct some more readers our way.