Welcome to autumn, easily my favorite time of year. The summer fades away to shorter, cooler nights just perfect for backyard fires while leaves turn those unreal vibrant shades of red, gold and orange. I know that archetypally fall is the season that represents dying and tragedy, but for me it has always been full of happy memories and experiences that overcome the natural literary inclination.
The harvest season signals the return of pumpkin beers, a seasonal treat that is uniquely American. The older I get, the more I appreciate seasonality. When something comes only once a year, it is much more precious and pumpkin beers are no exception. This year I decided to celebrate by sampling a few of the seasons offerings with a pumpkin beer tasting – and, because daddy shouldn’t hog all the fun I set up a little root beer tasting for the little guy. I know we’re not talking cocktails here, but hey – a good drink is a good drink.
Pumpkin beers may not be for everyone, but I do encourage you to try a few from your local market. Trick or treat!
Entry #1: Pumpking Imperial Ale
Brewery: Southern Tier
Location: Lakewood, NY
Tasting notes: the strongest of the bunch, this one is also the sweetest. It has an almost biscuity taste overlaid by the pumpkin pie spice, with a viscous, heavy mouth-feel. It’s a tasty, powerful beer but the alcohol on the nose makes it just a little too potent for casual enjoyment. You must commit to this bottle.
Entry #2: Dark O’ the Moon Stout
Location; Seattle, WA
Tasting Notes: A smooth enough stout with cinnamon on the nose. Tastes mildly chocolately, but seems to fall a little flat on the finish. Maybe worth a try if you are a stout fan, but not my favorite.
Entry #3: Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
Location: Seattle, WA
Tasting Notes: What a beer! It immediately hits you with Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie on the nose, and finishes complete with a pronounced nutmeg taste. Very balanced and much drier than the Pumpking. A phenomenal beer, and my favorite of the bunch.
As for the root beers, B has spoken:
Honestly though, I must politely disagree with the little guy. Virgil's is the finest root beer I have ever tasted. Do yourself a favor and pony up for that 4-pack at your local package store and you won't be disappointed.