Hey everyone, it's Beth here taking over the blog today. Nate's been swamped lately so I thought I'd help him out. Let's discuss a fall favorite today.
It seems like as soon as the calendar hits September, you are bombarded with pumpkin everything. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin breads, there is even pumpkin butter I have heard. I am not a huge fan of pumpkin things, though I like good pumpkin bread, I don’t do the lattes or the pies. I will make an exception for one pumpkin thing at this time of the year though and I look forward to and even crave it a bit. Pumpkin beer.
It has to be done well. There are a ton of pumpkin beer options out there. Some of which I haven’t had the pleasure of trying, such as Dogfish Head’s famous Punkin Ale. (Side note – hey Dogfish Head, come to Minnesota!) Others I've tried and not liked all that much. I feel the pumpkin flavor should not overpower the beer flavor. You just want a hint of the spices, a little something that makes you say “yep, this tastes like fall.”
There are two beers I've had that I feel have done a good job on what I think is possibly a delicate balance. Southern Tier’s Punking is one of my favorites. It has a light pumpkin flavor without being over the top. It reminds me more of pumpkin bread then pumpkin pie, which is also why I prefer it. I don’t ever want more than about a glass worth of this one though but that is OK, it’s a good sipping beer. It’s also a tough one to say you’re going to pair with much food – though I had this one on tap at a restaurant recently and ate some hop infused cheese curds (oh yes these exist, maybe we’ll do a post on these little wonders another time) while drinking it and they went surprisingly well together.
The other one I just had this past weekend at our favorite local brewpub, Barley Johns in New Brighton, MN. They made a pumpkin bock this year. It was really the perfect pumpkin beer for my taste – it was mostly a bock, with a hint of pumpkin and spice. It was very smooth and actually did pair well with the turkey wrap I had for dinner. Unlike Southern Tier’s, I could have easily had another glass of this one. Maybe the difference in the two is Southern Tier’s feels more like a dessert beer to me where this one could be the main course.
We have some friends that homebrew like us and they have made a Pumpkin beer this year that we've been promised a bottle of. They have told me it will be more about the spices than the actual pumpkin as they agree with me that pumpkin flavor can be overdone. I’m anxious to give it a try as it seems right up my alley.
Others may disagree with me and if you want pumpkin pie in a bottle, I am not going to judge you, just like I don’t judge lovers of the pumpkin spice latte, but for this girl, simple is better. So I highly recommend Barley Johns Pumpkin Bock to the locals (get there soon before it’s all gone) and Southern Tier to the rest of you!