One of my favorite things to do in October is sample the season’s freshest crop of pumpkin ales. Robert and I tried to attend Elysian Brewery’s “Great Pumpkin Beer Festival” earlier this month, but it was insanely crowded. I guess I’m not the only one who looks forward to pumpkin ale season. Since we couldn’t get in at Elysian, I decided to do my own pumpkin ale tasting at home. Here is a roundup of some of my favorites.

Dogfish Head’s “Punkin’ Ale” – Punkin’ is a brown ale brewed with fresh pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. The aroma is subtle, hinting ever so slightly at pumpkin pie. The flavor, on the other hand, is sweet and spicy and unmistakably pumpkin. These flavors are so well-integrated with the beer, it feel like a very natural match, almost as if all brown ales could be improved with a little pumpkin and spice. This ale is full-bodied but still highly drinkable. I had it as an after-dinner treat, but I think it would also pair well with food.

Elysian Brewery’s “The Great Pumpkin” – Elysian doesn’t bottle The Great Pumpkin too often so I stopped by the brewery to sample it. This is one of the most lauded pumpkin ales out there and with good reason. The Great Pumpkin is made with roasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and a whole lotta pumpkin. It is an Imperial ale which means that it is stronger and higher in alcohol than your average beer. The color is a beautiful copper-brown. You can certainly taste the pumpkin and spices, but the beer is incredibly well-balanced. It is sweet, but this is offset nicely by a hoppy bitterness. This is a very easy to drink beer. Very easy.

Elysian Brewery’s “Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout” – With its dramatic werewolf label and spooky black-as-night color, Elysian’s Dark O’ The Moon is a perfect choice for the Halloween season. This beer is so dense and thick that I couldn’t see any light shining through it. The mouth feel is amazingly smooth. Delicious notes of chocolate, roasted coffee and caramel abound, and there is just the right amount of bitterness on the finish. Unfortunately, I really didn’t detect any pumpkin. If you’re looking for a pumpkin beer, you will likely be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are a fan of stout, you don’t want to miss this one!

The Bruery’s “Autumn Maple” – This is not actually a pumpkin beer. It is made in the same manner as pumpkin beer but uses yams instead! Autumn Maple is brewed with 17 pounds of yams per barrel along with spices, vanilla, molasses and maple syrup. It is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale and has a whopping 10.5% alcohol by volume. This beer has a lot going on. It is sweet and tart and spicy all at once. Yams, malts and sweet spices are all present. Unexpected flavors, such as prunes, come through as well. And then there’s the classic yeastiness that you get with the Belgian beers. This beer is kind of crazy and quite different from the other ales I tried. It might not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it!

1 Comment »

  1. I love the Dogfish Head Punkin ale. I wish I could find the Dark o’ the moon pumpkin stout you wrote about. I love stout and I love pumpkin beer.

    Comment by sofi — November 16, 2009 @ 9:54 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment