Tuesday, October 05, 2004

There's few things in this world which go together as much as Halloween and drinking. Well, maybe a few, but darn it, it's up there! Anyways, in that spirit, the fall season brings out that most odd of seasonal brews: the pumpkin beer.

The pumpkin beer offers great promises. Pumpkin pie, in liquid form, which will get you drunk. You really couldn't ask for more. Unfortunately, more often than not, it fails to deliver. Today, I'll spotlight 4 pumpkin beers. It was hard work drinking all that brew, but I assure everyone, I survived with my wits intact. I just hope my trials were not in vain and you learn something from this.

First up, the Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

This was my least favorite of the lot (though I've liked other Shipyard brews). The color was very light and golden, with a small head. Granted, it had a very strong pumpkin taste, but other than that, it was watery and smooth to the point of nonexistent. It had absolutely no bite or bitterness and I kind of felt like I was drinking just another cheap beer, with pumpkin flavoring. Avoid.

Next up, the New Holland Brewing Ichabod Ale

I'd never had a New Holland Brewing beer, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was pleasantly suprised by this one. The beer was a rich golden color, with a small, but very strong head and lot and lots of hoppy bite. I mean, it wasn't quite an IPA, but you could definitely taste the bitters. So, as a regular beer, it did great. Unfortunately, the pumpkin taste was very subdued and had a bit of a sour tinge which led me to believe it hadn't fermented enough.

Next, Blue Moon's Pumpkin Ale

The only other Blue Moon I've had is their Belgian White and, I gotta admit, I like it, quite a bit. Yes, I know, they're made by Coors, thereby offending my whole micro-brew sensibilities. But, it's a good beer, so I forgive it. Anyways, this pumpkin ale poured with absolutely no head whatsoever, but had a very strong amber color. The taste was pretty robust, comparable to something like Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale (a favorite summer drink of mine), with a well mixed (but subtle) pumpkin flavor. It was probably the first of the lot that had a bit of body to the undertone of the beer, so bonus points for that. Still, like all of them, it's enjoyable as a novelty beer and I couldn't see myself drinking it other than to celebrate the season.

Lastly, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale

This was my favorite of the pumpkin ales. Though, like the Blue Moon, it had a nonexistent head, it poured with a very strong caramel color. The flavor was mellow, but not watery, and well balanced. The pumpkin taste was round and sweet and complimented the other flavors in the beer (instead of fighting with them, like in the New Holland). This was the only one of the lot which stood out as an enjoyable beer, period, instead of just an fun Fall brew. If you're going to check out one of the above, I would suggest Buffalo Bill's.

That's it for today. Next week, Oktoberfest! ;)