Nov 19, 201201:47 PMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
The Great Pumpkin... Beers.
I don’t like pumpkin beers. No... seriously, I really don’t like pumpkin beers. Being an ever adventuresome craft beer drinker, I have given a spare few varieties a try with no satisfaction. They curdled my tongue like spoiled milk and I vowed to not drink them again.
But given their popularity these days, and the wealth of new varieties, I can't deny there must be some appeal to this flavor I am missing. I needed some guidance and direction in exploring this style of beer.
Being less than well versed in this topic myself, I decided to give pumpkin beers another try with the help of an expert. That’s why I enlisted the help of Ray Troutman, a/k/a the Pumpkin Beer Guy.
Ray loves pumpkin beers. He really loves them. So much that he has set up a page on Facebook under Pumpkin Beer Guy. He would love to have more fans. He posts pictures and reviews on pumpkin beers regularly. Ray is the go-to guy for pumpkin beer information, and that's why I asked him to assist me with a tasting and this article.
Pumpkin beers are not a new -fangled invention of the craft beer revolution. Surprisingly, pumpkin beer history goes back much further. Rumor (and the internet) has it that one of the reasons the pilgrims stopped their trip short and landed in Plymouth rock was because they ran out of beer.
Joking aside, beer was an important non-perishable mainstay during their long voyage, and was generally safer to drink and more nutritious to drink than water.
Once the pilgrims arrived here, the traditional European ingredients to make beer were scarce. They used available ingredients such a persimmon, hops, maple syrup and pumpkin to ferment and make new styles of beer.
Around here, beers are much easier to procure. Pumpkin beer season starts in mid-August, and you will start to see some products selling out by early October. However, local establishments will start to tap kegs later in the season so customers have have them as the fall season progresses.
Several local brewers have jumped into the pumpkin beer venue.
Troeg's brewed a limited batch of pumpkin beer, and the number one pumpkin beer (rated 95 out of 100) on Beer Advocate is made by Selin's Grove Brewing Company. It is available only at their brewpub in Selinsgrove.
If you don't have time to travel, bottles of pumpkin beer are readily available to take out at Wegman's or other mix-a-six stores such as Al's of Hampden.
Elysian has issued a variety 4-pack of pumpkin beer, which includes the Great Pumpkin, Dark O' The Moon, Night Owl and a limited edition Hansel and Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner.
Another new favorite of mine is Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Ray and my friend Mandy several weeks ago at Market Cross Pub in Carlisle for Elysian Pumpkin Beer glass night.
We tried Dark O'The Moon Pumpkin Stout and The Great Pumpkin Ale. I don't know if it was the attractive glass or the cordial conversation, but the flavors seemed mellower and smoother than my last taste of pumpkin beer.
I sincerely enjoyed the dark pumpkin stout. On the website, Elysian describes the pumpkin stout as smoky on the nose with "malty bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee with subtle earthy pumpkin and spices."
The Great Pumpkin is described as intense "sugar and spice on the nose with a nice bready and malty backdrop to tame all those autumn spices into a remarkably smooth, balanced and delectable fall treat."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Or had a better pumpkin beer.
Here are the Pumpkin Beer Guy's top-five pumpkin beers. He says his guide is what is a “good sitting down and sipping” beer for the fall.
5. Fordham Brewing Co. Spiced Harvest Ale:
This is a new find. Its strictly not pumpkin flavor, it also includes the spices and also honey... reminds you of a spiced cider and very warming. A good beer to drink around a campfire. http://fordhambrewing.com/our-brews/
4. Spring House Braaaiins:
Suprisingly good, interesting flavor. Most pumpkins incorporate the pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and all-spice. This is the first to also incorporate the crust...includes vanilla and what would equate to a graham cracker crust...totally thinking outside the normal Pumpkin box...a must try. http://www.springhousebeer.com/beer.htm http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16589/62259
3. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale:
Very solid pumpkin, evenly balanced spice...and a nice aroma. http://schlafly.com/beers/styles/pumpkin-ale/
2. Southern Tier Pumking:
Another fabulous product by Southern Tier, tastes like Pumpkin pie in a glass... more spice than pumpkin but it also has a sweet taste as well. http://www.stbcbeer.com/seasonals/seasonal-imperial/pumking-beer-page/
1. Elysian The Great Pumpkin:
One of the few pumpkin beers that give you a nice pumpkin flavor and is not over spiced. Aroma is amazing as well as the mouth feel. Ranked # 2 on beer advocate.
Thanks to Ray Troutman, a.k.a the Pumpkin Beer Guy with this article.