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Pumpkin Beer : Two great tastes that taste great together. Sometimes.

First – I dedicate this post to my longtime friend K-Dub, she loves herself a good pumpkin beer!

I’m proud to say that I was born right here in San Diego. That said, I also have a co-hometown in the suburbs of Washington D.C. where my Father moved us shortly after he finished his term with the Navy. I spent a lot of time growing up on the east coast and many of my closest friends still reside there so I have never really left it behind, even after my most recent move back to San Diego. If there is one thing I miss about the east coast, not counting my friends and family there, it would have to be the fall season. Something about the cool crispness of the air, the changing of the leaves to shades of yellow and orange, it really does a lot to invigorate my spirit. I absolutely love this time of the year.

Which is why I’ve been holding this blog back several weeks as Southern California is mired in a brutal heat wave that doesn’t really seem to be letting up. It’s challenging to get in the fall spirit when you are standing in a cold shower trying to lower your body temperature after going for a six mile run. It would be pretty rad if I could break out a sweatshirt or something at night. Oh well. San Diegans who bitch about the weather are deservedly mocked so I’ll shut-up now.

One of my favorite fall treats are pumpkin flavored items. Pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie are clearly at the top of that list but I’ve been known to indulge in other snacks that have been amped up with pumpkin spice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Obviously, my favorite thing in the whole wide world is drinking beers, so for me it’s kinda fun to see what some breweries are able to come up with in the pumpkin beer area. I know it’s something of a novelty and maybe that bugs you and maybe it doesn’t. I’m pretty straight forward about what types of beers I like, but please allow me this one random indulgence. None, of these are what we would call “hoppy” beers, but as many beer drinkers will attest to, there are some that far outshine others. What we have in today’s post is a tiny sampler of what is out there in the pumpkin beer market of Southern California. I was able to find most of these at the local BevMo if you decided to go looking. My other store of choice was K’nB Wine Cellars.

I’m also not the kind of person who likes to point out negative things but here is one – The pumpkin beer made by Blue Moon is one of the worst things I’ve ever had in my life. That includes asparagus and anchovies. Do not drink it, it is not good.

Let’s start with Buffalo Bill’s Brewery: Pumpkin Ale 5.2%ABV : This beer is refereed to as ‘America’s Original Pumpkin Ale’. It has a light pumpkin aroma to go with the light orange color. Tastes good, the pumpkin is a little too sublte for me, it does not overwhelm the palette. The little lady said she couldn’t even taste the pumpkin.

Shipyard Brewing Co. : PumpkinHead Ale 4.7%ABV : Light, golden color with a fragrant pumpkin aroma and a more overt pumpkin flavor. Well balanced with the malts so it’s no too sweet. The future Mrs. compares it to pumpkin bread. This one works well for my tastes.

Samuel Adams : Harvest Pumpkin Ale 5.7%ABV : Dark, golden color with a rich aroma. Deep malty flavor, tastes like a true autumn beer – I can almost see the leaves change color. Again, I find the pumpkin to be underplayed here. If you like the pumpkin to be subtle, you may find this beer right up your ally.

Dogfish Head: Punkin Ale 7%ABV : A brown ale with a strong pumpkin pie flavor to it.A very tasty beer from the boys in Delaware. It’s slightly too sweet to my tastes but that’s not from the pumpkin, it’s from the brown sugar they dropped in this sucker. Enjoyable for sure.

Now we get to my two favorite mamajama’s

Unita Brewing : Crooked Line Oaked Jacked Imperial Pumpkin 10.31%ABV : The gang from Utah sure knows how to brew a pumpkin beer that will whip your ass! Dark brown color, strong pumpkin aroma and one of the closest tasting beer to pumpkin pie you can imagine. Minus the crust. Taking a pumpkin ale and then aging it in oak barrels might be one of the most genious idea’s I’ve heard in a while. You get a crisp yet boozy beverage that I found incredibly smooth and easy drinking. I also found it very hard to get off the couch after drinking the entire 22oz bottle by myself. Awesome beer!!

Shipyard Brewing Co : Smashed Pumpkin 9%ABV : This was my into to what pumpkin beers should aspire to taste like. It’s pretty much the gold standard in my opinion. It has a nice orange color, strong aroma of pumpkin and an excellent flavor with a slightly boozy edge to it. Not as strong as the Unita. You also have wonderful, big flavors from the malts to offset too much sweet from the pumpkin. Shipyard is one of the best when it comes to having a well balanced beer and this is another example of that. Simply fantastic.

So there is my pumpkin beer drinking experience for the fall. Maybe you’re not so much of a pumpkin beer guy, that’s OK. I can’t get mad at you. However, if the mood ever did strike for you to try one, this list is something that I hope will help.

Now if we could only figure out a beer that tastes like Thanksgiving Dinner…



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