Fall Beer Guide 2011: Pumking Down!

19 Oct

The fall is undoubtedly the best season for craft brewing in the country.  The Great American Beer Fest kicks things off in Denver, and countless beer gardens and taprooms celebrate Oktoberfest across the country.  As we approach the holiday season, another shift in seasonal beer availability is not too far off.  (In fact, Magic Hat has already been shipping it’s holiday sampler pack.)  So to honor the now fading harvest moon, here is a list of the top ten pumpkin beers I have had this season.

10.  St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale (Citrouille) (Montreal, QB) – Labeled “The Great Pumpkin” in the US, this Canadian offering doesn’t leave much room for interpretation.  Bland, but not at the risk of saying it was bad.  Drink it if you’re curious about Canadian ideas regarding pumpkin.

9.  Sam Adams  Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Boston, MA) –  You know I can’t blame Sam Adams for trotting this out.  I tried to hate on Sam Adams the other night, but my friend offered a valid point.  Most people try different beers because Sam Adams makes them.  I am all for people trying new stuff, so I suppose Sam Adams can slide.  Drink it if you’re at a Patriots game, or if you are hanging with Chawlie from Qwinzee.

8.  Blue Point Pumpkin (Long Island, NY) – This was one of the first pumpkin ales I tried this season, somewhere around the end of August.  It may have been rushed, as the beer itself was nothing special.  Blue Point’s other offerings are much better to check out.  Drink it if you’re out of options.

7.  Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (Milton, DE) – One of the originals in pumpkin flavored beer, Dogfish head has a national reputation as a premier brewery.  That said, it seems like they focused elsewhere this season.  Having had others from past seasons, there was a noticeable drop off in quality.  Drink it if you’re into buying 16 ounce beers four at a time.

6. Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA) – Our first foray out of the Northeast takes us across the country to rainy Seattle, home of Elysian Brewing.  This is the first on our list to come exclusively in a 22 oz. bomber bottle.  It boasts up to 150 pounds of pumpkin in each batch.  While fairly standard and lower in abv by most standards, it’s well executed and tasty.  Drink this if you’re my weird uncle who loves owls, or perhaps if you like the band Owls.

5.  Brown’s Pumpkin Ale (Troy, NY) – Ok, completely biased as this is a local entry to my countdown.  This is only available in the Brown’s Taproom, so plan to make the hike if I pique your interest.  I made a point to try as early a batch as I could, and contrast it with something made later.  Waiting makes all the difference as the final product at this year’s Oktoberfest was outstanding.  Drink this if you’re down with Uncle Sam or perhaps a graduate level engineering student.

4. Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin (Brooklyn, NY) – Another NY brewery, another great pumpkin beer.  This beer’s rating is bolstered by the fact that around here it’s so widely available both on tap and in bottles.  This is the highest rated of anything not considered an imperial ale.  Drink this if you’re the mayor of Williamsburg ironic coffee shop #23245r312qe.

3.  Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin (Baltimore, MD) – Our bronze medal goes to The Great Pumpkin.  One of the first imperials I had this season, it was an assload of cinnamon, nutmeg, and almost bourbon flavors.  After having a few more and revisiting this beer, it held up against the other heavyweights.  While I haven’t been able to track it down, there is a Great’er Pumpkin available as well.  Drink this if you want to have fun on Halloween.

2.  Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin (Akron, OH) – From the home of Lebron James comes Double Pumpkin.  Frog’s Hollow has a knack for making absolutely over the top beers (Google D.O.R.I.S) while taking home their share of top prizes at national beer fests.  The Double Pumpkin is no exception.  It’s as spicy as I think you’d want a beer to be, or possibly could be.  Drink it if you’re still sad that your favorite basketball player would rather drink mojitos in South Beach.

1.  Southern Tier Pumking (Lakewood, NY) – The list ends here back in New York (the part no one wants to visit) with it’s finest offering.  Pumking holds it own against any other brewery’s offering.  It’s sweetness goes hand in hand with the Halloween inspired bottle.  I always love the distinct biscuit-y taste, but sweeter with lots of pumpkin and hints of butterscotch. While it has the highest alcohol by volume of any of the list, clocked at 8.8%, Pumking is very easy to drink.  Too easy in fact, so be sure to celebrate responsibly.  Drink it anywhere you can find it.

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One Response to “Fall Beer Guide 2011: Pumking Down!”

  1. the self-hating hipster October 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Albany Hardcore Pumpkin Ales!

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