|Adding cream to pumpkin beer, a la pumpkin pie, is optional|
Fourth Place: Lavery Stingy Jack. A craft beer from the original home of US brewing, and our home, Pennsylvania.
The name is endearing and the label tells the story of how the Jack o’ Lantern came to be, but the contents of Stingy Jack isn’t as one would expect. This beer isn’t really even a pumpkin beer. Most pumpkin beers have obvious notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bring thoughts of falling leaves, warm fires, and pies. Stingy Jack has none of these flavors and doesn’t bring any of these thoughts.
At first I considered ranking this beer third, for reasons you will read below. But ultimately a “pumpkin beer” must taste like pumpkin, or at the very least, Fall. Stingy Jack fails here. It’s an ok beer but I can tell you it’s not for everyone. Gillian hated it, and thought it tasted like pondwater. Stingy Jack, you kept the flavor for yourself.
Third Place: Pumking. "Bewitched and brewed with pagan spirit" in the state of New York.
Pumking professes to be King of Pumpkin beers. At first glance, it's certainly regally orange. When you drink it, Pumking will invade and occupy your taste buds like a despot ruler, whether you like it or not. I love heavy, hearty, flavorful beers and I think I will get Pumking again, but the flavor in this brew was very overpowering. This is coming from a guy who loves the flavors of deep European beer: If I can’t see through the beer I definitely need to try it.
Despite the overpowering smell and taste, at least it tasted like a Pumpkin. While I can’t devote my service to Pumking and his court, I will probably venture back into his festive realm.
Second Place: Fegley’s Brewworks Devious Imperial Pumpkin. Another local PA brewery.
This beer is rather charming. It has a beautiful amber color and its sweetness coats your tongue. When you take your first sip you will find a balance of traditional spices that is just right.
Drinking this beer was a pleasure, as if a liquid fall candy or pumpkin pie had been poured into my glass. I could go on about this beer but I won’t, partly because the more I do the more I want one right now. I highly recommend this beer for Thanksgiving. Get a bottle and see what I mean; better yet, get two.
First Place: Long Trail BrewmasterSeries Imperial Pumpkin. From the northern state of Vermont, which produces some great brews and hard ciders.
This Imperial Pumpkin provides more bitterness and smokiness than Devious Imperial Pumpkin. Its spices are also a bit more subdued. This is refreshing, and unlike so many pumpkin beers which tend to leave behind a massive hoard of flavor taking over your mouth.
Like Devious, this beer could be very enjoyable by itself. The yeast flavor makes it slightly more beery, so it would also be a great accompaniment to a seasonal meal. This beer will definitely have a place at my table for Thanksgiving … and probably several times before then.
*Honorable mention: The purpose of this post was to focus on lesser known brews, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the stalwart from Pumpkinshire itself, Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale, which is available in its fall series. Every year this is a must for me. It’s not as powerful or as flavorful as the other beers, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It’s a nice autumn festive beer for your everyday needs.
However, there is one scoundrel out there that has evaded my taste buds. A much sought after scoundrel who, I was told, was sold out of the shop just a few days after it was released. But know this: Next year, Fat Jack, I will hunt you down and find you …
|Thanks Mark, for your pumpkin beer expertise and opinion!|
Remember, it's the Glad Blog Octoberfest all this month, so please send me your own Fall themed posts - I'd love to feature my favorites. Bonus points if you feature pumpkin related activities or products, local Fall Fests, or fun traditions I haven't heard of.