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Pumpkin Ales


erie1
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Pardon my ignorance, but what are "pumpkin ales"?

Pumpkin pie in a bottle, only better.

My fave remains Buffalo Bill's, the standard against which others can be judged. Last year, Dogfish head from Rehoboth, De made a Punkin Ale, that was also quite good.

I find that Punpkin Ale is spectacular partner to a hot plate of nachos. No lie.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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  • 1 month later...

I think Bill's is pretty much the standard. I always enjoy it when I can find it fresh (which is not always so easy in New Orleans).

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I think Bill's is pretty much the standard. I always enjoy it when I can find it fresh (which is not always so easy in New Orleans).

I agree, BB's is the standard against which other pumpkin ales should be judged.

However....

This year's Dogfish Head Punkin Ale may usurp that position. It is a terrific brew, judiciously spiced and flavored, and the pure pumpkin sails through admirably. It will be available at the Grey Lodge Pub in NE Philly this Thanksgiving weekend (God bless owner Scoats), and it is definitely worth the trip.

BTW, try a pumpkin ale with a hot plate of nachos. A superb beer-food pairing.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I had Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale a few weeks ago. Not too sweet, good spice, would be great with dinner this week!

Dogfish, BTW, calles their ale "Punkin"

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Comparing the Dogfish Head and the Smuttynose, both of which I've had in the past two weeks, I'd have to vote for the Smuttynose, mostly for the subtlety of the spice and the healthy hoppiness. The pumpkin-ness is mostly in the aroma and the taste is not too cloying. Still haven't found the Buffalo Bill's -- anyone know if it's on tap or on the beer list anywhere in Philly?

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Comparing the Dogfish Head and the Smuttynose, both of which I've had in the past two weeks, I'd have to vote for the Smuttynose, mostly for the subtlety of the spice and the healthy hoppiness. The pumpkin-ness is mostly in the aroma and the taste is not too cloying. Still haven't found the Buffalo Bill's -- anyone know if it's on tap or on the beer list anywhere in Philly?

The only place I'd ever expect to find it on tap or in bottle is at Mcmenamin's Tavern in Mt Airy. Several years ago it was on tap at Isaac Newton's in Newtown, but I dunno about that place anymore.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought that Buffalo Bill's was probably the absolute worst. Dogfish probably had the most present pumpkin flavor but that could've been from the alcohol. I tried one from some brewery in Union Sqare which was probably the most well rounded; not too bland, not too spicy. All in all, I'm disappointed with this year's selection. Maybe next year I'll try Brooklyn Brewery's.

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  • 9 months later...
It's that time of year again! Have had Buffalo Bill's, Smuttynose, and Post Road. once again this year BB's leads in my book!

I've had an early report about (but havent yet seen) Dogfish Head Punkin being an excellent version this year, as it was last year.

Killer food pairing suggestion for pumpkin beers (thank me later):

Nachos

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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About the only one we have out here in CA is BB's, which is brewed in Hayward (in the San Francisco Bay Area). Dogfish Head is available through Stone Brewing in San Diego, but is much rarer and I've never seen it up here.

A question for the homebrewers - does anybody have a good pumpkin ale recipe that actually uses pumpkin? My local homebrew-store says that if you add pumpkin to your mash, the starch doesn't saccarify, meaning you're just going to get cloudy, starchy, gas-inducing beer. :blink:

According to him, you either have to add enzymes to break down the pumpkin starch, or, since pumpkin doesn't really have much flavor on its own, cheat, by adding pumpkin pie spices (the flavors most people associate with "pumpkin") but no actual pumpkin. This is what I've always done - soak the spices from the missus' (jgarner53) pumpkin pie recipe in vodka to make a tincture, and then add it to the secondary. However, if somebody has a pumpkin ale recipe where the pumpkin actually adds something good, I'd love to try it.

"I would kill everyone in this forum for a drop of sweet beer." - Homer Simpson (adapted)

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Those of us in the southeast can enjoy the top rated Pumpkin Ale, according to the vote tally at beeradvocate.com, Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale, which is brewed in Mooresville, NC (just north of Charlotte).

Among the pumpkin ales receiving over 25 votes, here is the ranking:

Cottonwood

Dogfish Head

Smuttynose

Post Road

New Holland

Buffalo Bill's

Blue Moon (Coors)

Shipyard

Edited by Brent Kulman (log)
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Having tried 4 or 5 of the pumpkin ales mentioned, my impression is that they are ok for a novelty item, a couple of them are pretty tasty, and they are something to drink between Octoberfests and Winter/Holiday/Christmas brews... with one notable exception: Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale. I wish I could buy Dennis Miller a 6 pack of this weasel piss and make him drink one. He is the only one who comes to mind capable of going on the kind of rant that it deserves. Coors, hang your corporate heads in shame!

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Chef Shogun -

I think you will find that Post Road may be very different from the others.

I just tried it last night at a beer tasting and had a discussion about it with the brewery representative. I noted that their Pumpkin Ale did not have the "pumpkin pie spice" characteristics of other Pumpkin Ales that I have tried. He said that they use real pumpkin in the process while the other breweries use a syrup. He also noted that this was a deliberate attempt to recreate a colonial recipe rather than to brew to a holiday seasonal style.

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Chef Shogun -

I think you will find that Post Road may be very different from the others.

I just tried it last night at a beer tasting and had a discussion about it with the brewery representative.  I noted that their Pumpkin Ale did not have the "pumpkin pie spice" characteristics of other Pumpkin Ales that I have tried.  He said that they use real pumpkin in the process while the other breweries use a syrup.  He also noted that this was a deliberate attempt to recreate a colonial recipe rather than to brew to a holiday seasonal style.

You know? I kind of noticed that, but wasn't sure if that was the norm or not. I was kind of expecting the 'pumpkin pie spice' (In the "It'll probably be there" rather than the "I do certainly hope this beer tastes like canned pumpkin mix" sense), and was somewhat pleased that it wasn't dominant at all. The other ones go for more of a 'pumpkin pie' flavor, then? Still worth a look!

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just signed onto eGullet to talk about this exact subject......

By far, Buffalo Bill's is THE MOST flavorful, Pumpkin Pie in a bottle :raz:

This is based on my limited tasting of Smuttynose, Post Road, and Buffalo Bills. Looking forward to trying the Dogfish. Being in Wilmington for work, I'm bound to find it.

The Smuttynose had the most spiced taste, while the Post Road had a characteristic Brooklyn taste to it, with a nice balance of pumpkin and spice.

(If anyone is in the Brooklyn area, and you enjoy the Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest and Post Road, you should check out the brewery for their Oktoberfest this Saturday (Oktober 9) http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/events.asp)

I was fortunate to pick up a case of both the Buffalo Bill's and Post Road at Montvale Wine and Spirits in NJ today.

Thinking about brewing a batch for the upcoming harvest season, does anyone have any suggestions? Some recipes for a five gallon batch call for 8 lbs (?!?!) of canned pumpkin? Can that be right?

Edited by WestOrangeFrank (log)
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Last year the local liquor store was having a blowout sale on a pumpkin ale. Crooken River Pumpkin Ale for (IIRC) about $8 per case (yes, for an entire case of bottles).

So, I picked up a couple cases figuring, how bad could it be? AFter all, it did sound interesting, pumpkin and beer together.

Well, the was completely wretched. I invited people over who will driink anything just to get it out of my place, and even they couldn't kill it all off.

I wrote off beer and pumpkin altogether at that point, but perhaps I just had a bad example, I will have to try one of these others.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Thinking about brewing a batch for the upcoming harvest season, does anyone have any suggestions?  Some recipes for a five gallon batch call for 8 lbs (?!?!) of canned pumpkin? Can that be right?

I found the website of a pub brewer who talked about a batch he'd made that used 38 lbs of canned pumpkin in 99 gal of beer, which worked out to 1.9 lbs for a 5 gal batch, which seemed fairly reasonable, so I got 2 cans of Libby's pumpkin (w/ no preservatives). He suggested baking the pulp at 350F for 1hr to carmelize it, which I did (by spreading it out thin on one of jgarner53's Silpat mats atop a cookie sheet :smile: ), and then added it at the beginning of the boil. I used a basic mild ale-style wort as the base (9 lbs 2-row, 3/4 lb 60L crystal, 1/2 lb Victory, 1/2 lb torrified wheat, 1/4 lb chocolate, or something close to that), with one infusion of 1 oz of Cascade hops for 1 hour.

Adding the pumpkin to the boil (I actually added it at about 180F) produced some orange scum that I scooped off, but otherwise the pumpkin seemed to disolve pretty well, though there was some in the trub, and then more when I racked it this past weekend. When I racked it, I also added a spice infusion, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves, allspice, and ginger, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg, which had soaked for a week in 6oz of vodka (I strained it when I added it to the 2ndary; I've been working on that spice balance for years, BTW - a little nutmeg goes a LONG way in beer :wacko: ).

The brewer's website had suggested spice additions during the boil as well, to bring different characteristics out of the spices, but I wasn't sure enough about the results or the chemistry thereof to try it. I'll probably bottle it in 2 more weeks, though I may rack it again, as there's still quite a bit of sediment. Fortunately, I didn't get one of the explosive fermentations that I've sometimes gotten with fruit beer. If people are interested in the results, I'll keep you posted (and of course break out a bottle for anybody who happens to be in the San Francisco area, home to not one but TWO f-up baseball teams :sad: ).

"I would kill everyone in this forum for a drop of sweet beer." - Homer Simpson (adapted)

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I found a four pack of DH Punkin on Friday. I've decided that I am not a big fan of the style. But...if I had to pick my favorite pumpkin beer, it would be the DH-- spicy aroma, pumpkin flavor, nice body, a hint of a bitter finish.

John

"I can't believe a roasted dead animal could look so appealing."--my 10 year old upon seeing Peking Duck for the first time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I got some Dogfish Head Punkin Ale today and I'm not sure about the taste. Alot of you on here say the pumpkin taste is very present. I don't know that I agree, but I've never had any other pumpkin ales so I have no basis of comparison. My concern is that the beer isn't fresh. The Dogfish website says the brew is available after Sept. 1st. So if the distributor got it around then, it's been sitting, warm (yes the beer was warm when I got it - unfortunately I didn't know until AFTER I paid for it) for almost 2 months. Do you think that would kill the taste a bit? Either way it isn't bad. Its not skunky like beer gets when it's real old. But I just wonder if it'd taste a bit different if it were kept cold the whole time.

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