Friday, September 18, 2009

Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkin Ales

What a pleasant surprise, to come home from work to find out that our daughter bought you two different Pumpkin Ales to try. So it looks like I’m jumping head first into this great fall beer season. Since I’m going to review a few pumpkin ales here is my take on that style of ale.

This style of beer has a sorted history; part urban legend and part newly re-visited Craft beer lure. Some of the folk lure has pumpkin ale widely brewed in the American Colonies and everyone form George Washington to Ben Franklin had a recipe for this style of ale.

The earliest recorded recipe for Pumpkin Ale is found in the February 1771 American Philosophical Society publication that was founded by Benjamin Franklin, so some of the lure may be true. Some of the lure also feeds off of the fact that beer was brewed from a wide variety of sources and that it was probably costly to import barley malt for the brewing of beer. Pumpkins and squash-like plants could be used as substitute for the typical malt.

At any rate it wasn't until the recent revolution of the craft beer movement that pumpkin ales became a highly-desired specialty beer. Released in the fall pumpkin ales vary widely on taste and format. Some are simple amber ales with a hint of pumpkin or pumpkin spice and others are like drinking a liquefied spicy pumpkin pie. The recipes and flavoring also vary with uses of real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger etc.

Because of the wide variety in style it’s hard to say whether you like it or not depending on which ones you have tried. Just to let you know I’ve been sampling pumpkin beers for several years and still not really sure I like them. Oh I like some of them, a lot, but not sure how much a like the overall style of beer.

This year I’ve even seen a few high test Imperial Pumpkin Ales so they just keep getting more and more creative with these Pumpkin Ales. I’m sure I’ll have several different ones this season to review so you will know which ones are good, well at least which ones I like anyway. And you should be able to tell which ones are real spicy. Like all things with beer it’s a matter of personal taste; hint of spice or a lot of spice that’s the question. Only you have the correct answer.


Here is the style definition from beeradvocate.com

Pumpkin Ale

Description:
Often released as a fall seasonal, Pumpkin Ales are quite varied. Some brewers opt to add hand-cut pumpkins and drop them in the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. These beers also tend to be spiced with pumpkin pie spices, like: ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Pumpkin Ales are typically mild, with little to no bitterness, a malty backbone, with some spice often taking the lead. Many will contain a starchy, slightly thick-ish, mouthfeel too. In our opinion, best versions use real pumpkin, while roasting the pumpkin can also add tremendous depth of character for even better results, though both methods are time-consuming and tend to drive brewmasters insane.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%

beeradvocate.com

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