Saturday, November 22, 2008

My quest for the perfect pumpkin beer - part 1

One of the best parts about the fall and winter is seasonal beers. Winter for me is all about stouts and porters. They're heavy and wonderful and they warm you up on a cold night.

As far as I'm concerned, fall is about one thing: pumpkin beer. The best ones taste like an alcoholic pumpkin pie, but a bit less sweet and definitely not bitter (not that I don't love a good bitter beer, but bitter and pumpkin do not play well together). They're heavier than the wheats I enjoy during the summer, but not quite as heavy as my stouts and porters.

Every year, I go on a quest for the perfect pumpkin beer. This year, the quest began with America's Original Pumpkin Ale, by Buffalo Bill's Brewery. Alas, though I'd read some decent reviews of it, the quest did not end with this beer. Not to say it was bad. It was solid, but not great. My biggest complaint was that there was not enough pumpkin or spice flavor. It was there, but it should have been stronger.

I think this particular pumpkin ale should go in the category of "go-to" beers. That is, if I need a reliably decent pumpkin beer, I'll go with this. It's the same category I put Blue Moon's Harvest Moon in. It will do when I'm in a pinch and nobody will be disappointed by it.

But for now, the quest continues. Anyone who really wants to help me on my journey, please comment. I'll happily try all sorts of pumpkin beers.



Rob said...

I'm no pumpkin beer connoisseur, but the Dogfish Head Punkin is pretty good. Key to a really solid pumpkin beer, far as I can tell, is one that actually has *pumpkin* in it, not just the spices associated with pumpkin pie and the lot.

Bill Mayeroff said...

I've heard a lot of good things about the Dogfish Head Punkin. I drink a lot of Dogfish Head beer, so when I went to the store to get a pumpkin ale, I wanted to try a brand I'd never eaten before.

Kristy said...

Yes, and YES. This is precisely how I feel about this one, and absolutely how I feel about the Blue Moon line in general. I found a fairly good pumpkin ale at BJ's Brewery, but I'm pretty sure you don't have them in your area- ultimately, it's good, but not worth the struggle you'd have to endure to try it.

Obviously, I need to beer blog ;)

Chad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad said...

I did an extensive Pumpkin Ale tasting (all of the one's that distribute to Central IL, anyway) last year. Buffalo Bill's, Dogfish Head, O'Fallon, New Holland, Shipyard, Blue Moon, AB's Jack's Pumpkin Spice and Schlafly, I believe.

The Schlafly is by far the best of the bunch. It's like liquid pumpkin pie. I rated Dogfish Head's just a little below it and then O'Fallon's.

Not sure what's available in your neck of the wood's but I've heard amazing things about Brooklyn's Post Road Pumpkin, Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin and Southern Tier's Pumpking.

Bill M. said...

Well, I'll just have to check out one of the good liquor stores in the area to continue the quest. Thanks for the suggestions.

Travis Smith said...

I did a comparison tasting of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale to the Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale a few weeks ago on Suds or Duds TV. For a pumpkin ale, Buffalo Bill's runs circle's around Dogfish Head.... I might be partial to Buffalo Bill's being that their brewery is 10 miles from my house :)

Anonymous said...

Buffalo Bills and Shipyard Pumpkinhead are the absolute worst pumpkin ales I've tried. Overcarbonated spice soda IMO.

I had Dogfish Head last year and it was pretty solid, and Elysian's Night Owl was definately a beer that had real pumpkin in the brew.

Maybe some are happy with just the spices, but I enjoy a solid pumpkin flavor that complements the malt and spices.

SUjunkie said...

Southern Tier Pumking and Dogfish Pumkin' are my two favs. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin is also very good.