The Gourd Horror: Pumpkin Brews

We all have our fears. Some dread a visit to the proctologist. Some tax season. As a beer writer, I have a special horror of one terrible week that combines unique horror of all fears plus the possibility of a dreadful hangover. Yes, loyal reader, it's that time of year where brewers add bloated orange squash to perfectly good beer, douse it in laboratory-derived flavoring agents and cackle with the keening, disturbing laugh of a super-villain. You guessed it: It's pumpkin beer season. For you, I'll hold my nose and do my duty — tasting a few pumpkin beers to save your palate, your liver, and your sanity the trouble.

Two Roads Brewing Roadsmary's Baby

ABV: 6.8%

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Taste: Pours a fine, glowing amber with a thin, white head. The aroma has nutmeg, cinnamon, and toasted oats. Initial flavor blooms with warming spices, like a sachet filled with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and cardamon. There's even a hit of gingery spice burn at the tail end to give it some authority. Thankfully, this beer is on the dry side, and the understated sweetness is clearly malt-based, rather than sugary. Actually, the malt has a nice toasted character, rounding out the flavor and making it even more “organic.” If not for the grinning gourd on the label, I might not even guess this was a pumpkin beer. It's so warming and spicy, I'd drink it to enliven a cold evening during any season.


New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin

ABV: 6.4%

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
Availability: Purchased out of state.

Taste: Pours a light copper with a fine white head. Aroma has cinnamon, cocoa, and some real roasted pumpkin flavor. The initial flavor is frighteningly close to an actual slice of pumpkin pie. There's nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, and the grainy flavor of real pumpkin meat. As the flavor develops, the similarity to pumpkin pie recedes into the distance. A growing, glowing coal of chili heat warms my tongue and throat, carrying some secondary citrus aromatics and a powerful burn. The heat continues to build in intensity, gradually subsiding into a spicy, woody aftertaste. Perhaps this would pair with a spicy mole, but the Atomic Pumpkin is better suited to a solo sipper.


Kennebunkport Brewing Pumpkin Ale

ABV: 4.5%

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can
Availability: Purchased at Trader Joe's

Tasting Notes: Pours a brilliant copper with a dense white head. Aroma is cidery, with some vinegar and cinnamon character as well. Initial flavor is dilute, almost watery, with faint hints of cinnamon, clove and the thin vegetable flavor of pumpkin. The spicy flavors develop a bit but don't really define themselves beyond providing a background. The aftertaste is bland and sweet, with a lingering cinnamon flavor. Served quite cold, this would be a good choice for someone who doesn't appreciate the stronger, spicier flavors of some of the other pumpkin beers.

Last modified onMonday, 30 October 2017 18:08