Brewing and reviewing since 2012.
Fall is upon us, and that means cool, crisp air, football, changing leaves, and shorter days. It also means pumpkin beer showing up by the dozens. Over the past couple of years, the amount of pumpkin beer has exploded along with the craft beer scene. Where fridges used to be dominated by Oktoberfests and Marzens this time of year, I’m personally seeing a lot more pumpkin taking up shelf space. Whether this is a good thing is up to your tastes.
Before this year, I hadn’t had a pumpkin beer I’d liked mainly because I’d never had a pumpkin anything I’d ever liked. This year, with my local liquor store dedicating an entire fridge case to the stuff, I figured I’d give it another try. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed some of them.
There are two ways that pumpkin beers can go. They can attempt to get close to a pumpkin pie taste, as is the case with Southern Tier’s Pumking, or they can go heavy on the spices, as any of the imperials tend to do. This is where personal preference comes in. For example, Pumking is regarded as one of the top pumpkin beers on the market. I could barely get it down. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand why it’s so well liked. It tastes like a pumpkin pie in liquid form, carbonated and bottled. You even get a hint of crust and a finish of vanilla for the whipped cream when you drink it. For me, that’s the problem. I don’t particularly enjoy pumpkin pie, and that’s part of the reason why I’ve avoided pumpkin beer altogether.
Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin, on the other hand, is heavy on the spices, which it turns out I really enjoy. The allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and whatever else is tossed in there mixed nicely with the malty profile of it to create a really enjoyable beer. Could I drink it all year? Probably not. In fact, after 3 weeks of drinking pumpkin beer, I’m ready to move on. But as a seasonal change of pace, I’ll be looking forward to pumpkin beer time again next year.
Ahat’s where I think pumpkin beer has gone. Not good as a regular drinker, but an excellent change of pace beer when the weather starts to get cold. Mix it up with some Oktoberfests or Märzens, and you’ll have a good selection to get you through until it’s time for the heavier ales and stouts. Whether you like pumpkin pie or fall spices, there’s a beer out there that you’ll enjoy.