The Pumpkin Menace
October 30, 2014 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Trick or Treat? Anchor Brewing's Bob Brewer on pumpkin beers and why Anchor hasn't produced one.
Pumpkins, by themselves have very little – if any – real flavor that will survive brewing and fermentation. It’s sort of the “tofu” of the squash world in that it tastes like what you put on or into it. The flavor that everyone associates with pumpkins is pumpkin pie. What we are tasting in a pumpkin pie is actually the huge load of sugar dumped into it along with the allspice, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, ginger and other spices.

Pumpkin beer has a long history in the US. Serious Eats: Colonial Necessity to Seasonal Treat. "Fermentable sugars had to be found where they could, and in the first pumpkin beers, the meat of the pumpkin took the place of malt entirely."

The popularity of pumpkin beer has led to more beers being offered more early. USA Today: Pumpkin beer season starts early. "Every year, distributors and retailers say, 'OK, who can get me a pumpkin beer first?'"

Many see the pumpkin beer craze as good for the craft beer industry. Drunkspin: Stop Whining About Pumpkin Beer. "Pumpkin beer is good for beer culture."

The Week: In Defense of Pumpkin Beer. "Pumpkin beer is a gateway beer. It is a stepping stone from macro swill to the wide variety of styles and tastes craft beer has to offer."

Some recommendations:
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (85 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gotta say, I'm not a big fan of pumpkin beers (or many of the other flavored seasonal brews, actually)
posted by Thorzdad at 9:55 AM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


The best "pumpkin" beers are amber or brown ales with maybe a little extra non-malt sweetness and the barest whiff of spice for "tradition's" sake. My local brewery makes a pretty serviceable one, maybe the only one I'll drink, in fact.

Good on Anchor, though.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:55 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


They also come out waaaay too early. I don't want pumpkin beers that are released before pumpkins are ripe.
posted by caphector at 9:56 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have had one or two pumpkin-flavored beers that were decent, but most of them taste like they've been hopped with the potpourri from my grandmother's guest bathroom.


Also, I am surprised that most brewers go for pumpkin ales, when heavier-bodied porters seem much more receptive to the sweet and spiced notes (particularly nutmeg) associated with pumpkin pie.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:57 AM on October 30, 2014 [24 favorites]


Surprised to hear pumpkin described as tasting as bland as tofu. Am I nuts or does it not have a distinct bitter flavor?
posted by Hoopo at 9:58 AM on October 30, 2014


As a Mainer I would like to sincerely apologize for Shipyard Pumpkinhead.

Smuttynose's version ain't too bad, though.

Also, I am surprised that most brewers go for pumpkin ales, when heavier-bodied porters seem much more receptive to the sweet and spiced notes (particularly nutmeg) associated with pumpkin pie.

I fully endorse this. A porter or stout is a better place for strong inserted flavors.
posted by selfnoise at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


My local craftbrewer does a pumpkin beer that's just pumpkin spice, no actual pumpkin. It's awesome.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


most of them taste like they've been hopped with the potpourri from my grandmother's guest bathroom.

Thank you for finally putting my feeling on the matter into the perfect words.
posted by 256 at 10:00 AM on October 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


See also Christmas beers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:01 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mad props to Anchor for levelling instead of pandering to their customers. Going to look for their brews from now on.
posted by ocschwar at 10:02 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've brewed my own pumpkin beer and Mr. Brewer is totally correct. Due to poor growing conditions for barley early colonial brewers turned to a great many malt alternatives, pumpkin was just one of them.

I just finished off a keg of an ale brewed with molasses, which unlike pumpkin actually contributes to the taste of the finished beer. Not everyone likes that taste but at least it's not just some spices thrown in.
posted by tommasz at 10:05 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I made this pumpkin-chocolate-milk stout last year, and it was great! But yeah, I don't the pumpkin added any flavor. I may try again with just the rest of the ingredients, and see if it's just as good.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:06 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Geez, I was going to do a post on Pumpktober Fest where Elisa Hansen and guests review a bunch of pumpkin beers on spice level and a scale of Squash to Pie.

Mad props to Anchor for levelling instead of pandering to their customers.

I think it's fine that Anchor doesn't want to make a pumpkin beer, but I don't think it would be "pandering" to do so, any more than they are currently "pandering" to purity snobs.
posted by muddgirl at 10:08 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


For me one of the keys is whether the spices are added to the boil and if so how early. I find that boiled spices taste off but fresher spices added late in the boil or to the wort taste more like what I am expecting from a pumpkin ale. I also second the use of those spices in more full flavored and heavier malted beers like stouts and porters. My personal favorite doesn't rank high on the lists but I love Lakefront's Pumpkin lager.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 10:11 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Surprised to hear pumpkin described as tasting as bland as tofu. Am I nuts or does it not have a distinct bitter flavor?

The outer rind will give a bitter flavor, but the edible meat inside isn't bitter at all. Pretty much squash-ish. Bland.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:12 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, I am surprised that most brewers go for pumpkin ales, when heavier-bodied porters

Porter is a type of ale.

Surprised to hear pumpkin described as tasting as bland as tofu. Am I nuts or does it not have a distinct bitter flavor?

The brewer is talking about the flavor after the pumpkin starch has been converted to sugar and then fermented.
posted by goethean at 10:17 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


ahhh, he's just cheesed they didn't get to trademark "Pumpkin Ale" and drive everyone else away.
posted by edgeways at 10:20 AM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


most of them taste like they've been hopped with the potpourri from my grandmother's guest bathroom.

Beautiful. This exactly. I think pumpkin beers are getting caught up in the backlash against pumpkin spice lattes and holiday creep in general. I mean, I'm no purist when it comes to interesting ingredients in beers; I loved this huckleberry berliner weisse produced by Payette and Elysian. But damn, most pumpkin or christmas ales are akin to having cloves forcibly inserted into your nose. Let the beer serve as the flavor base with hints of spice, not the other way around.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:21 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Surprised to hear pumpkin described as tasting as bland as tofu. Am I nuts or does it not have a distinct bitter flavor?

Pumpkin does have flavor. I think he is saying though that its not a flavor that "will survive brewing and fermentation." Its a squash and tastes nicely simply roasted.
posted by vacapinta at 10:21 AM on October 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


See also Christmas beers.

Please say you excluding Belgian Christmas beers because if you are not your judgement is highly suspect.
posted by srboisvert at 10:22 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


For what it's woryh, you may not get much direct flavor but there's plenty of mouthfeel. It's an interesting source of fermentable sugars that can be a lot of fun with the right mash. I've got a homemade pumpkin oatmeal imperial stout that I'm bottling in the next day or two, and I'm super excited.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:26 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have had this discussion with beer snob friends of mine. I've been homebrewing for 25 yrs. I like to make brews for friends and this time of year (motherf*cking pumpkin spice time) there is always a request for Pumpkin beer and this explanation is the one that I use. Mash is extracting sugars and subtle flavors from the grain, some color as well, and pumpkin just isn't one of those ingredients that lends itself to this process.
i love that it's Anchor that has put this out there. their California Common beer (Anchor steam) is one of my go-to base recipes for an all-purpose drinkable beer.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:29 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: You may not get much direct flavor but there's plenty of mouthfeel.
posted by DiscountDeity at 10:33 AM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


We all know that pumpkin beers suck, thus it's pointless to talk about them. What is more interesting is that Bob Brewer is actually the real name of a person at Anchor Brewing. I thought it was a nom de plume.
posted by exogenous at 10:33 AM on October 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


Wow, lists for everyone. I'm on team Paste: Southern Tier Pumking is terrible and Dogfish Head Punkin is wonderful. I'm decidedly against team Thrillest, who said the exact opposite.
posted by jermsplan at 10:34 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


As with many things, pumpkin has no flavor if used incorrectly. I don't personally like the taste, and if pressed to create a holiday beer, I'll do butternut squash or sweet potato instead, but the process that works best is to:

1: Caramelize the vegetable in the oven first. And by vegetable, I mean use actual real, cubed vegetables, not canned glop. If you don't have to peel it, you're doing it wrong. Take this opportunity to spice, as I prefer having a nice melding of flavors.

2: For Baccus' sake don't mash with the stuff. It's a big nasty mess and you're not really extracting any flavor. Some sugar and starch, maybe. Flavor? Definitely not.

3: Add it to your boil. This step is pretty simple so I'm gonna use the rest of the space I've created here to talk about grain bill formulation. Most of your flavor will and should come from your grain. Biscuit malts, caramel malts and roasty dark malts are your friends. Victory Malt and Special B Malt are my secret tools here.

4: Finally -- secondary with more roasted and spiced veggies. This is where the flavor comes from. A week or two on secondary will grant a lot of flavor and less concern of the yeast destroying everything on their way to eating up all the sugar you've given them.

I didn't come up with these rules, but I can speak to the truth of them. Follow them and you can have a flavorful beer. But really, there are better vegetables to use than that gloppy mess of canned pumpkin people seem to use for form's sake.

If I had to come up with a commercial pumpkin beer I actually like, I'd grudgingly say Terrapin's Pumpkinfest (an Octoberfest with a light amount of pumpkin flavor) is the only one I can finish a six pack of.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ironically enough, that can of pumpkin puree usually relies on butternut squash, too.
posted by muddgirl at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know, right? The ingredients for canned pumpkin look crazy cool, but you'd be hard-pressed to imagine Cinderella going to the ball in one.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:54 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pumpkin's flavorlessness makes it a sponge for other flavors. It works well in curries.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:54 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pumpkin absolutely does have a flavor that's intensified by roasting, as noted above. Local brew-pub does a pumpkin ale that screams "PUMPKIN!" and only whispers "spice" - it's not sweet, either, but light and savory.

I made pumpkin cookies recently, and while I did use canned pumpkin, the only spices were some cinnamon and vanilla extract. It was depressingly bland for a cookie (not enough spices!), but it did taste pleasantly of pumpkin, which is slightly astringent and subtly fruity - and it was vastly different than snickerdoodle, which is also cinnamon and vanilla, hold the pumpkin.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:02 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Southern Tier Pumking is terrible

Pumking, in previous years, has really struck an excellent balance between sweet and earthy. Southern Tier as a whole does dessert beers exceptionally well (their Creme Brulee stout is incredible). This year, though, their pumpkin beer was undrinkably sweet and artificial. Most of the pumpkin beers have been sweeter than expected this year, not sure if it's a pumpkin crop thing or an effort to get those pumpkin spice dollars.
posted by troika at 11:04 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Please say you excluding Belgian Christmas beers because if you are not your judgement is highly suspect.


No, no- the Belgians (and the Scots) know how to do this well. Basically, a very sweet dubbel or a malt wine, with perhaps some orange peel and clove-y notes (the Belgians, for one, actually know how to add spice to a beer).

I'm talking about the ones that are like being held face down in a pile of cinnamon and nutmeg scented pine boughs, while someone sings "Jingle Bell Rock" loudly and cheerfully in your ear, and spanks you with a giant candy-cane.

For me personally, a "Christmas beer" is one that pairs well with mincemeat tarts.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:05 AM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


The ingredients for canned pumpkin look crazy cool, but you'd be hard-pressed to imagine Cinderella going to the ball in one.

The squash traditionally called a "Cinderella Pumpkin" is not the same species as pie pumpkins, either :)

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I don't have an ethical problem with brewing a butternut squash beer, but calling it "pumpkin beer" because that is the target flavor and the flavor that consumers would expect.
posted by muddgirl at 11:09 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


anchor christmas, which is one of my favorite seasonal/holiday beers, tastes remarkably like a pumpkin porter. so there's that. they just don't call it a pumpkin, and they release it closer to christmas. it's stellar.
posted by rude.boy at 11:17 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


“Pumpkin pie is the synonym for mediocrity. ...The best pumpkin pie you ever had is not all that different from the worst.... Pumpkin pie is nothing but an excuse to eat nutmeg.”

- Garrison Keillor

Same's probably true for pumpkin beers... That being said, I'm still somewhat partial to the Pumpkin Ale from Great Lakes Brewing. Not heavy, cloying or over-flavoured.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:19 AM on October 30, 2014


...most of them taste like they've been hopped with the potpourri from my grandmother's guest bathroom.

+ 2 on this - There are SO many great beers to try, don't ruin fall with a pumpkin one...
posted by jalexei at 11:23 AM on October 30, 2014


What is more interesting is that Bob Brewer is actually the real name of a person at Anchor Brewing.

I KNOW, right? I hit the same link and had the same "oh hey, it's his REAL NAME" realization when I was writing the post.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:23 AM on October 30, 2014


I went all out trying every different pumpkin beer I could a couple years ago. Yeah, there are some good ones, but most of them were middling to terrible. I've since come to the conclusion that they are Not Worth the Risk, given that there are so many other better brews available.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:24 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Southern Tier Pumking is terrible

I was shocked when I tried it for the first time, because it is (or at least was, at the time) highly-regarded. Really one of the worst beers I've ever had. Would much rather have a case of Medalla Light or something.

What is more interesting is that Bob Brewer is actually the real name of a person at Anchor Brewing.

There is a bar nearby called Mr. Beery's. It is run by a guy named Steve Beery. It was kismet.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:25 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


That "Pumpkins, by themselves have very little – if any – real flavor" is news to me. I'll have to remember it and adjust my perceptions accordingly the next time I make pumpkin soup.
posted by lodurr at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Love pumpkin pie, love beer.

Hate pumpkin beer.
posted by yarly at 11:27 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


(It may well be that the very strong and distinctive flavor of pumpkins doesn't survive brewing. But if that's what he meant, he should have said it.)
posted by lodurr at 11:27 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


if loving a good pumkin beer this time of year is wrong, i don't want to be right.
posted by rude.boy at 11:30 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


if loving a good pumkin beer this time of year is wrong, i don't want to be right.

It's definitely better to be quenched than right.

People seem to have extreme opinions on 'flavored' beers. I like Founder's Breakfast Stout, but my wife seems to think this is some kind of really worrisome moral failing.
posted by selfnoise at 11:32 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


lodurr... that is exactly what he did say in the article.
posted by rude.boy at 11:41 AM on October 30, 2014


Nutmeg? What is this nutmeg? My pumpkin pie recipe, which is over 100 years old, has no nutmeg. It uses cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and mace which is totally different from nutmeg . . . I don't care if they come from the same plant shut up shut up
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:42 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hate pumpkin beer, but Bob Brewer just really seems to have some picky-eater opinions about vegetables in general. Turnips are inedible? Rutabagas, okra, and zucchini are only "being insinuated into our diet just because they’re cheap"?
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:44 AM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I like Founder's Breakfast Stout, but my wife seems to think this is some kind of really worrisome moral failing

I... uhmmm... errr... well, I generally don't take absolute moral stands, but: She is wrong. That beer is the earthly flavor of the songs of the angelic choir. I will pick up arms and give stern looks to anyone who says different.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:45 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


that is exactly what he did say in the article.

Then why did he go out of his way to say almost the opposite in the pull-quote? It's almost as though it's inverse clickbait.
posted by lodurr at 11:52 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


lodurr... that is exactly what he did say in the article.

This is what he said:
Nutritionists will tell us that the pumpkin is close to a perfect food with all sorts of good vitamins, minerals, and fiber but has little flavor on its own, especially after being cooked.
I don't think this is true. Like all foods, the cooking method affects the final product, but many strains of squashes that we consider to be "pumpkin" hold up with cooking. It's not squash's fault that pumpkin pie has become the primary vessel for delicious sugars and seasonal spices.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


“Pumpkin pie is the synonym for mediocrity. ...The best pumpkin pie you ever had is not all that different from the worst.... Pumpkin pie is nothing but an excuse to eat nutmeg.”

Bash pumpkin beer all you want, but this is the wrongest thing I've ever heard. Them's fighting' words.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:54 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Much as I appreciate Bob Brewer's position (self-link), I can't help but think his words will come back to bite him in the ass when Anchor finally gives in and brews a pumpkin beer. His company is currently owned by the Griffin Group, which also imports BrewDog, known for putting all kinds of wacky shit into their beers. And Anchor has already shown it's willing to follow popular trends, by pulling the plug on its marvelous bock beer - a spring lager style whose sales have declined greatly in recent years.

As for spiced Xmas beer, well, his former boss, Fritz Maytag, gets the credit for reviving that style.
posted by sixpack at 12:05 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty through with the pumpkin everything trend but this guy is wrong about pumpkins (among other things that they're only good for pies and jack-o-lanterns, they're ubiquitous, versatile, found all over global cuisine). And I'm wholly convinced that pumpkin pie haters are dangerous and irrational creatures who need to be watched with deep mistrust. A good pumpkin has a lot of complex flavor, but it is relatively delicate, so it's certainly easy to overwhelm it in a pie, say, by overdoing the sugar and spice. A nice, semi-sweet pumpkin pie where the spices are applied with a delicate touch is absolutely my favorite thing in the world though, topped with a scoop of real whipped cream with no sugar in it. Man I really could go for some pumpkin pie right now. Wow, anyway what was this about beer again?
posted by nanojath at 12:06 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that pumpkin would be just as good as potatoes or agave for fermentation and then distillation. I wonder if anyone makes a pumpkin hard liquor?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:23 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The whole pumpkin obsession is odd to me. When I was growing up, yeah, you had pumpkin pie and pumpkin seeds when you did a Jack-o-Lantern, but no one really got excited about them. It was..ok. There are lots of other things that have those same spices in them, and pumpkin is a pretty unexciting taste on its own. I found the custardy blandness offputting and got much more excited about the chocolate pie my aunt would bring. Pumpkin seeds were tasty but not amazingly so.

And now everyone is OMG PUMPKIN and I can only shrug.
posted by emjaybee at 12:24 PM on October 30, 2014


I've been unreasonable unsober with Bob. He's a great guy - a bit like your crazy drunk uncle who could give you a massive bear hug no matter your size.

The good thing about Griffin Group buying Anchor was they kept them going on the path of breaking out of their rut. After refining their Steam, Porter, Liberty, Summer/Wheat and Christmas Ales, they didn't innovate at all. Thier lineup was basically frozen from ~1982 until 2005 when they released Anchor Bock - then Breckles and now they're spinning up new things more frequently.

I'm just happy that Mark and company are getting to have a little more fun in the brewhouse.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:25 PM on October 30, 2014


I'm talking about the ones that are like being held face down in a pile of cinnamon and nutmeg scented pine boughs, while someone sings "Jingle Bell Rock" loudly and cheerfully in your ear, and spanks you with a giant candy-cane.

As seen in the special holiday column of Savage Love...
posted by madajb at 12:30 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Bourbon-barrel aging results in enjoyable vanilla notes that permeate the 10% imperial ale. But the aging isn't what propels this beer into the top five -- it's the sessionable factor combined with the pumpkin spices.

How is a 10% beer sessionable? Does the session include a nap?
posted by HumanComplex at 12:39 PM on October 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


I keep seeing that word applied to 8%+ beers, and it confuses the hell out of me. Like, if you're going to make things up about your beer to get me to buy it, why not make up less obviously wrong things? Like, "brewed with genuine unicorn tears."
posted by asperity at 1:10 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think in the inexorable drift towards infinite hoppiness, "sessionable" now means "will not provoke immediate vomiting".
posted by selfnoise at 1:18 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, Christmas beers are more honest because they just say that they include some vague "spices" and don't claim to be any one specific flavor.

I bet you could put a lot of pumpkin beers into bottles with green-and-red labels and no one would notice until mid-January.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:20 PM on October 30, 2014


When I was much younger, I would drink the local 8% Scotch Ale all night long. So I guess by practical criteria it was "sessionable" in that I was making it home afterward. (Though on those nights, 'home' was typically only a couple of blocks on foot.)
posted by lodurr at 1:20 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was once at a party where a gentleman was drinking a bomber of Arctic Panzer Wolf out of hand. Just swigging off his own bottle, like it was a Bud Light Lime.

When he was finished he cracked another one.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:24 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seeing "Imperial" and "sessionable" in the same description definitely indicates that one or both of those marketing terms have lost their meaning.
posted by muddgirl at 1:28 PM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Charitably, there are "boozier" 10% beers and more easy-drinking ones, but yeah, the whole nature of a session beer is that you can have a few and not be on your ass.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:45 PM on October 30, 2014


I'm definitely in the minority here. I love pumpkin beers and look forward to them every autumn August. IMO, this year's So Tier Pumking isn't nearly as bad as some folks here say. I've heard the Warlock is good but I haven't opened my bottle yet. Schlafley's Pumpkin Ale is about the most perfect expression of the style, but sadly it doesn't make it up here to Ohio.
posted by slogger at 1:56 PM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


When I think of an "Imperial session" beer, what comes to mind is sold in a convenience store in a paper bag.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:22 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I recently discovered why this country goes pumpkinshit every year...

Recently, we were looking for a new car for our son. I drove out to the country to look at a car by a private seller. On my first trip out, I made note of landmarks to find my way back, because that's how I navigate (and because our county road dept. isn't all that good at putting signs up)

Anyway, I made note that there was a field of pumpkins at the corner where I turned to get to the guy's house.

A couple of days later, I went back out to look at the car again and make the deal. Well, I got lost. But, remembering the pumpkin field, I kept my eye out for it. That when I discovered that the entire southern half of Delaware-fucking-county is nothing but pumpkin farms! Pumpkins as far as you could see! It was just a bit disturbing.

Anyway, that's why we're being force-fed pumpkin-everything. They're everywhere.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:27 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's strange because a few winters ago there was a pumpkin shortage (I know this because pumpkin is a common meal additive for dogs with sensitive stomachs, so the blogs and forums were ablowin' up with pumpkin news). I wonder if a bunch of farmers took a gander at the pumpkin prices that year.
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on October 30, 2014


We might not agree on pumpkin beers, but we can all agree sour beers are gross...

Right?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:46 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sour beers are a lot less gross when people stop invoking "vinegar" to describe them and instead say "it's like you wrung out half a lemon into it."

I personally find the metallic sour bite to them particularly reminiscent of a part of the body I am not going to describe or name but which I am very fond of.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:52 PM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Nope, sour beers are frequently awesome. Party-in-my-mouth awesome. That said, they do take longer to produce and are therefore more expensive to begin with, so I'm entirely OK with them not being a universal taste. Keeps demand down.
posted by asperity at 3:04 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thorzdad: "That when I discovered that the entire southern half of Delaware-fucking-county is nothing but pumpkin farms! Pumpkins as far as you could see!"

They need the pumpkins for this. Nothing says AMERICA like launching those suckers out of a trebuchet or gigantic air cannon.
posted by exogenous at 3:31 PM on October 30, 2014


When I think of an "Imperial session" beer, what comes to mind is sold in a convenience store in a paper bag.

From time to time I see 211 (good ol' armed robbery) in the the store fridge and I think "hell yeah I haven't had one of these since I was 20." Then I think "ok maybe lets not."

I personally find the metallic sour bite to them particularly reminiscent of a part of the body I am not going to describe or name but which I am very fond of.

[world's worst yeast joke] (yes I know it's not the same kind)
posted by atoxyl at 4:13 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


asperity: Nope, sour beers are frequently awesome. Party-in-my-mouth awesome. That said, they do take longer to produce and are therefore more expensive to begin with, so I'm entirely OK with them not being a universal taste. Keeps demand down.

What asperity means to say is that sour beers are ghastly and you should all stay far away from them.

Especially if you're in Pittsburgh.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:43 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have a bottle of Spontanbeetroot in my cabinet. I tried a bit of it at a Mikkeller tasting that he attended, and it tastes EXACTLY LIKE BEET. IT IS SO WEIRD AND STRANGELY DELICIOUS (IF YOU LIKE BEETS).

If any brewers are looking for vegetables that impart their flavor (and color) incredibly well in brewing, apparently, it's beets. Though dude is a weird genius and who knows how he made the recipe.
posted by Juliet Banana at 5:26 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


[world's worst yeast joke] (yes I know it's not the same kind)

Actually I wasn't even thinking about the specifics of how lambic is made, but what with the wild yeasts and lactobacilli involved I think we might for real be on to something with the sour beer/[body part] connection. I don't know what to say except that this is one of the odder epiphanies I've had this week.
posted by atoxyl at 5:41 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seriously if this were a movie there would have to be a montage to convey the way my mind is racing and everything coming together right now.
posted by atoxyl at 5:47 PM on October 30, 2014


checking back in: as the person who inadvertently started the Pumking hate, I had not meant to do so. I was merely amused that two of the linked "Best/Worst" lists were so opposite, and that one matched my personal preference.

I will say that last year when I had my first Pumking and said I didn't love it, a guy there suggested I mix it with a stout, and I found that far more enjoyable. Until today I was unaware of So Tier's Warlock, but inspired by this post I went out and bought a bottle. Now, finished with that, all I can say is that I'm in a good mood and enjoyed it more than Pumking. I think I would prefer to mix Pumking with stout myself, because I could go really stout heavy.

Or I could just keep spending my fall-beer money on Dogfish Head, Sam Adams mix packs, and local NC brews. IANA-beer-snob-or-expert.
posted by jermsplan at 6:25 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: This is the wrongest thing I've ever heard.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:36 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm drinking a Warlock right now, and it's friggin delicious. Someone upthread mentioned how pumpkin flavoring would work well with a porter or stout, and this beer nails it.
posted by slogger at 7:44 PM on October 30, 2014


Bob Brewer's name reminded me of what the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen (rest in peace, sir, you're missed) used to call namephreaks.
posted by Lexica at 9:16 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


A lot of the pumpkin-beer-hate, here and elsewhere, sounds like over-written "your favorite band sucks" rather than measured opinion. My wife doesn't like pumpkin beers, but she holds her opinions as her opinions, not categorical fact.

That said, I'm lucky. Schlafly Pumpkin, which is regularly listed in "best-of" articles such as the FPP links, is my go-to, home-town brew. First pumpkin beer I ever had, so I'm biased anyway. It really is good. Malty without being cloying, a real pumpkin-ey, autumnal bouquet, and spices that maintain their identities while still contributing to the whole. Added bonus: at 8%, it cellars well. Like, REALLY well. The 2010 is my favorite from the cellar so far, with that one bottle of 2009 that started the whole thing off not far behind. The 2014 reminds me a lot of the 2010, so for those of you playing at home, this year is a great one to lay down.

Another local pumpkin beer that hasn't made big waves (due, I believe, to a small batch size and small market area) is Crown Valley Pumpkin Smash Imperial Stout. As mentioned above, the whole pumpkin/autumn palette seems like it would work well in a roast-malt ale (stout/porter)--and the supposition is correct; the result is wonderful. The chocolate tones of the malt shine through, and the spices are subdued but still present. At 10.4%, it better be flavorful to hide the alcohol - and it is. Think, if you will, how the icing on German Chocolate cake is wholly separate from the basic cake but absolutely critical to the taste of the whole. That's this beer - chocolatey, nutty, spice-ey, like that German chocolate cake, but with pumpkin instead of coconut.


...which reminds me, I need to get some more to cellar.
posted by notsnot at 9:21 PM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


My current favorite pumpkin brew is Lickinghole Creek's Pumpkin Ain't Easy.
posted by emelenjr at 9:25 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've never tried a pumpkin beer and after this thread I guess I never will.
posted by chaz at 10:27 PM on October 30, 2014


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