Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall, pumpkins and beer

Happy Fall!!! This is my favorite season of the entire year! The smells, the cool, crisp air, Honeycrisp Apples the size of my face, the fact that "Colorful Colorado" actually has a few colors, the maple leaves shedding in my yard, raking leaves, jumping in leaves, raking some more, scarves, fun sweaters, warm hoodies, boots, my outdoor fire pit, sleeping with the window open just to pile on the covers .....these are a few of my favorite things! But near the top of my list is Pumpkin. Pumpkin everything! Pumpkin spiced coffee (that I make myself with REAL ingredients!), pumpkin bread, pumpkin patches, pumpkin scones, pumpkin candles, pumpkin soap, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin filled ravioli with a brown butter glaze, pumpkin curry soup, Pumpkin O's (Trader Joe's, thank you!), pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin corn bread with Chili....and Beer. Pumpkin Beer.

Now that I have swooned over my love of all things fall and pumpkin - this post is actually about Pumpkin Beer. I walked into my local liquor store a couple of weeks ago, and there greeting me right inside the doors, like something straight out of a fairy tale, was this huge display of all the different kinds of Pumpkin Beer available at that store. I stood there for way too long pondering my decision - afraid I would choose poorly and be sad....until I remembered that this particular store lets you put together your own sample pack! So I did just that. I left a happy Pumpkin camper ready to find the perfect Pumpkin Brew. And well, I would just be selfish to not let you in on my findings.

Let me be very clear before we begin. I am NOT a beer connoisseur. I couldn't tell you the difference between a stout, a lager, or an ale ...I can just tell you if I like or not, and I happen to like beers from all the various categories! But I AM sort of an expert on Pumpkin. Don't be jealous. I didn't go to school for it or anything, I was just born with it. So my entire review is based on the flavoring and balance of the pumpkin spice.

In order from my least favorite to most favorite:

Eddyline Brewing Pumpkin Patch Ale: This one was really spicy. I actually couldn't take more than about 3 sips. The guy at the Liquor Store said it was his favorite. So obviously you should take all of my reviews with a grain of salt...but this one was just not for me. I dumped it. It may have had something to do with the fact that I rounded the corner to find my dog drinking out of my mug....she loved it. But no matter, I was planning on dumping it anyway. Bad dog.

New Belgium Pumpkick: This one had a good taste initially. But as soon as it went down - whoa! Watch out! It actually left a strong pepper aftertaste! Pepper does not belong with Pumpkin or Beer. (When I was grabbing the link for this one so you could read the company's actual review...I read that there is cranberry and lemongrass in this beer. Um. No thanks. Apparently cranberry and lemongrass taste like pepper to me....but I also don't particularly care for cranberry or lemongrass. So this explains much.)

Shipyard Brewing CO. Pumpkin Head: There is a bit of a bite when first sipping this beer. Strong enough that I didn't think initially that I would even take another sip. It doesn't go down easily, in my opinion. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the aftertaste! It left a very balanced Pumpkin Spice flavor lingering in my mouth. (After visiting their website, they offer up some recipes that I for sure plan to try. But they also recommend drinking this beer with a pint glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar. And well, now I just feel like I didn't give it a fair shot and will probably have to give this one another chance!)

Epic Brewing Pumpkin Ale, The Gourdian: Because I hate the word Epic, I wanted to hate this beer. I didn't write any other notes other than, "Tasty". Sorry I can't leave you with any other details on this one. It was good though. But they should change their name. (After reviewing their website and description of this beer...I would agree with everything they wrote about it. It is very good. And they wanted a beer that you would throw in your backpack on a fall hike. Well, I'm hiking on Saturday. Maybe I'll give it a shot.)

Boulevard Brewing Company Funky Pumpkin: This one was so good! It tasted less like pumpkin spice and more like apple spice to me. (Is apple spice even a thing? It should be a thing.) You definitely could taste a mild pumpkin flavoring, but it also had an obvious apple presence....or some other fall flavor. I'm sticking with apple. I will for sure buy this one again. Pumpkin + Apple = Fall. Well done, Boulevard Brewing. Well done! (HEY!!! Their website says the pumpkin flavor is scarcely present! Maybe I'm better at this than I thought!!)

Ballast Point Brewing Company Pumpkin Down: AMAZING! Well balanced. Smooth. Just amazing. This one came in a very close second to my number one favorite....

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale: This has been my fall back for the past two years. (Get it? Fall back? That wasn't even on purpose.) I really enjoy this one. It holds the title of my favorite Pumpkin Ale. It's a good beginner for someone entering the Pumpkin Beer world as it is very mild and well balanced. It doesn't scream PUMPKIN PIE with beer poured over the top. It's just an easy to drink brew with just the right introduction of pumpkin. (The biggest downfall to this beer is that it is one of the most expensive. But it's still my favorite. And I swear...I am not a rep for Dogfish head...but in the summer, you should grab their Apricot IPA. You'll thank me later.)

I know there are many more that I didn't sample. If you know of one that you love that I didn't review, I trust you will let me know! Please and thank you.

Happy Pumpkin Fall!!!

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