There are so many things about the Fall that makes it the most distinct season of the year: the crisp air, brisk smell of burning fireplaces, the mask of changing leaves. But the autumn season is also home to an array of comforting flavors that help to inspire some of the most delicious food and drinks of the year.
While the thought of pumpkin beers often seems like an autumnal option of the craft beer movement, this seasonal brew dates back to the colonial era at a time of the year when good malt wasn’t readily available. As a result, pumpkins served as a flavorful replacement and have continued to evolve into the vast selection that is brewed today. Pumpkin beer selections have grown siginficantly since the mid-1980’s amounting to over 400 kinds to choose from. So as an homage to my favorite season, I set off on my own personal pumpkin beer tour and here’s what I found…
The first was over my favorite pizza at Slice in the West Village: Blue Point Pumpkin Ale. I’m a Blue Point fan – from both the tap and the bottle – and am also a sucker for their blueberry flavor, too. Naturally I had to taste what they had to offer in the pumpkin category and I wasn’t disappointed. While the pumpkin flavor didn’t dominate the same way their blueberry kind does, this is a nice, light pumpkin beer that everyone can enjoy.
The next sample was the Post Road Pumpkin Ale, brewed by Brooklyn Brewery. The Post Road feels lighter in texture, mostly because it was a lot more carbonated than some of the others I had which diminished the actual pumpkin flavor. The fall spices are much more prevalent over the flavor of beer itself and has a very noticeably orange color when poured.
A pleasant surprise was the River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern. This New Jersey brew was highly praised from my bartender who was pumped to serve it when I asked if he had a pumpkin beer on tap. The spices used in this brew are obvious, but well-balanced and subtle. The River Horse is the dark horse of my small selection of samples and a great taste of fall.
Dogsfish Head Punkin Ale, brewed in Delaware, came out to be my favorite of the season. This full-bodied ale settles the palate with nods of brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ends with a caramel finish. There is no doubt that it’s brewed with a meaty amount of pumpkin and packs a punch… take it from me and pace yourself while enjoying this one!
Looking for more Pumpkin Ales? Click here for more brews, courtesy of the Huffington Post.