Taking a looooong weekend off from work this weekend, my first days off since Labor Day. And no, the sick days I had to take after I sprained my ankle do not count.
The timing is good too because I Have Had A Week (as if there are any weeks since the pandemic started that have been uniformly joyous and carefree). It’s good to have a few days to just try to wrap my head around stuff. Bad things, good people kind of stuff.
Also taking a little break from wine this week to catch up with my other seasonal love. Can you believe it’s almost the end of October already and I hadn’t had one pumpkin beer? I am really not on my game.
I picked up three different kinds, one I’ve enjoyed in the past and two that were new to me.
Let’s start with the one I didn’t like too much, Ship Bottom Brewery’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Much as I’d like to support this New Jersey micro brewery, alas, I cannot. A good pumpkin beer is a delicate dance. You can’t just whiz up a slice of pie and throw it in with some carbonation. And that’s what this tastes like. There’s a syrupy note on the end that was too much for me. My pal M (happy birthday, m’dear) still gleefully reminds me of the time I ordered a crème brulée stout at a happy hour, and could only finish half of it before I was overcome by all the stuff they amped it up with to mask that it was a stout. That’s what this reminds me of a bit.
On to better things! Like the Ross Brewing Company Jacktoberfest Märzen.
There are almost as many styles of pumpkin beer as there are styles of beer. I tend to like lagers, so no surprise I liked this märzen, also from a local brewery in Port Monmouth, NJ. It’s still a bit sweet on the end, but the spices are not overpowering, the color is gorgeous, and you get the hint of pumpkin while not being knocked out by it. One of my high school besties L, who is now a hot stuff professor and director of social media at the University of Rochester, rates her pumpkin beers on a scale from “Where’s the pumpkin?” to “Like licking a Yankee Candle.” This one is somewhere in the slightly high middle on that scale.
And finally, there’s a reason this is one of the more popular pumpkin beers around: Southern Tier Brewing Co’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale.
(You know, I didn’t plan it this way, as that would indicate a level of high level machinations I have not mastered, but doesn’t that green rim of the glass remind you of the stem on a pumpkin? I chortle!)
Southern Tier, of Lakewood NY (way way way upstate NY), has it dialed in as far as balance on the pumpkin beer. Not too sweet, good dose of spices, and not super heavy. No candles to light here.
And of course, you may have your own subjective tastes about what makes your ideal punkin beer. So go forth and try some. Let me know what you like and don’t like. Support some local craft beermakers while you’re at it. And maybe raise some with a friend or two.
I, too, try to support NJ breweries and came across River Horse Hipp-o-lantern pumpkin ale. It’s based in Ewing, NJ. It definitely has a lot of flavor and I quite like it. Maybe one to add to your list to try. I also like dogfish head and Brooklyn post road pumpkin ales. Happy Halloween!