Taking from the initiative began last week, October’s Brew Review is devoted to pumpkin-style beers which are typically a fall seasonal. Because of the very short season compared to summer ales and the like, pumpkin beer needs to be sought after at a rapid pace, and unfortunately, by the time you are reading this, some will have disappeared until next year. Nonetheless, it is worth a look over of the 10 selected brews from NH and beyond.
Dogfish Head Brewery in Maryland, was the first to sell their Punkin Ale to the public in 1995. It was so unique and flavorful that it began a new style of fall released copycats trying to put their spin on the pumpkin craze. Today, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a pumpkin-something offered on tap or in bottles. Punkin’s 7% ABV does it right; not too much spice or pumpkin pie on your pallet. Instead a gentle reminder you are trying something quite interesting. You can read up on them here… www.dogfish.com/brewery/beer/punkin-ale
The best way to describe these 10 beers collectively is to sort them by what I call a remembrance scale. I’ll start at the lowest interest level (in my humble opinion) and go up from there.
Nationwide sales of UFO Pumpkin (from Harpoon Brewery, Boston), Pumpkinhead Ale from Shipyard, in Portland, Maine, and Harvest Patch Shandy from Leinenkugel in Wisconsin are clearly leading the pack in sales. UFO and Leine are both wheat-based beers which keeps them slightly hazy. Shipyard’s brew is clear, but the most spicy of the three. Shandy style beers add a hint of lemonade to the mix. Because these are basically macro brewery beers, the true craft beer devotee is going to keep looking.
The next grouping is mostly NH brewed beer except for one. 603’s Toasted Pumpkin Ale in 22 oz bottles has one of the most interesting flavor combinations available (ahh, remembrance…) and remains one of my favorites here. With an unsuspecting 8.2% ABV rating, beware. Brewing in Londonderry, 603 has so many great flavor choices with their year-round and seasonal lineup that you sometimes don’t have to look any further.
Recently reviewed here was Woodstock’s Autumn Ale Brew. It isn’t overpowering with spice or pumpkin but gets the job done on flavor and the 4.4% ABV won’t take you out at the knees.
Ballast Point from San Diego is so big and diverse of a brewery that they keep bringing out new awesome tasting brews almost every month. They are sold nationwide and are worth a try. Their Pumpkin Down is a derivation of their scotch ale style, Piper Down, with infused pumpkin flavor added. Sadly, it has a very limited release but look for it in September of next year.
Back in NH, Redhook Brewery, Portsmouth, brews their Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter which will be reviewed next week. And if you missed last week’s review on Rockingham Gourdy, make sure you go find yourself a bottle before it’s gone.
Lastly, and some of the biggest and most memorable, are Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin and Pumpking Imperial Ale from Southern Tier, NY. These two are in a class by themselves because of their dedication to bigness.
Smashed is spicy and luscious with generous amounts of malt, balanced hops which don’t interfere with the pumpkin in the slightest. At 9%, Smashed is a good name for this brew. You should find this even into November since it is quite popular.
Southern Tier does a great job with every beer they brew. Pumking is brewed with fresh baked pumpkin from local NY farms. Spicy and big, this beer lets you know who’s boss. At 8.6% ABV, it keeps your full attention.
Look for the next two reviews to cover more about 603 and Redhook’s pumpkin flavored offerings and keep looking for new and interesting beers to try and pair with your favorite foods. Cheers!