Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pondering Pumpkin

I've been too busy to write a blog post, so my wife, Beth, is helping me out by writing a blog post this week.
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!


  1. Good post Beth! My philosophy on pumpkin beers it that I prefer them to taste more of pumpkin than of the spices, though I separately really enjoy spiced winter ales like Alaskan's, or 21A's Fireside Chat. Pumking is the epitome of that profile, for me. I actually happen to enjoy that brew most of all alongside food. Had a couple of them last time I dined at Butcher & The Boar, and the high ABV and gourd-flavor stands up well to comfort foods, like the smoked beef long rib and charcuterie platter. It's a strong beer for strong food (I had a similar meal alongside Old Rasputin in a previous visit).

    If that bottle you're referencing is mine and Frank's Crackle Lantern, it's a different sort of pumpkin beer altogether. There's a lingering pumpkin flavor, and a curious, almost whimsical, light-caramel profile delivered by the molasses, steeped cinnamon, pepitas, sage and cardamom. It has a relatively high SRM, but a great head and lighter mouth feel-- almost akin to a Black Butte. We used a deft hand so as not to turn it into a 'spiced beer', since that is not the intention. If you WEREN'T talking about our beer, well, you're getting one anyway! So there! :P

  2. I like pumpkin beer and actually I don't mind it either way. To have a taste of more spices or to have the taste of more pumpkin. If you Nate try to do a pumpkin beer - I will gladly volunteer to try it out for you two!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.