So, I didn't want to have to write this post, but there's no way around it at this point. It is now pumpkin-beer season. This isn't how it should have been. No, pumpkin-beer season shouldn't start until September 1 at the earliest. But there are already a couple dozen gourd beers on the shelf, including some new ones – and they are multiplying fast. Last year, one of the worst culprits was New Belgium, which released a pumpkin seasonal on July 4 (this is a gross exaggeration, but it still felt that way). This year, it was local favorite, Dry Dock Brewing, that jacked my lantern in the summer sun. The Aurora brewery released bottles of its routinely excellent Imperial Pumpkin Ale last Thursday. But it turns out that they aren't alone in pushing pumpkins on us in August. Two more examples are below.
Maybe this is just the way it is now. Breweries are releasing pilsners and saisons in the winter, so why not pumpkin beers in July and August? I'm sure it makes good financial sense for them since, as the rant below from a brewer at Almanac Beer Co in San Francisco points out, pumpkin beer sales drop off after October 31. Or maybe people who like pumpkin beers don't care about the autumn season and just want to drink them year-round, like I do with Russian Imperial Stouts. Still, it is going to take some getting used to. The Internet is rife with opinions on both sides of the matter. Happy Halloween.
Dry Dock Brewing
Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Dry Dock Brewing released its 9 percent ABV Imperial Pumpkin Ale last Thursday in 22-ounce bomber bottles. The brewery adds real pumpkin into the mash, which "brings a rich, smooth base to this copper-colored ale," the brewery says. It also throws in Saigon and Indonesian cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace and cloves. This beer is typically excellent.
Pumpkin Patch Ale
Eddyline Brewing has began canning its yearly Pumpkin Patch Ale and will begin selling it shortly in six-packs of sixteen-ounce cans. The 5.5 percent ABV beer was excellent two years ago, but didn't quite hold up in 2014. Hopefully, it will return to form in 2015. It was tapped at the Buena Vista Brewery on August 1, and should be on liquor store shelves this week.
Epic already makes a fantastic pumpkin beer, Fermentation Without Representation, although the beer is often overlooked because it is a porter, a collaboration (with DC Brau), doesn't have a pumpkin-y name, and wasn't necessarily tied to the fall season. The Gourdian, on the other hand, is directed squarely at pumpkinheaded beer drinkers, complete with a jack o' lantern label. A brand new seasonal offering — and one that will only be sold in Colorado — the Gourdian, at 5.2 percent ABV, is also one of the few pumpkin beers to come in a can. It blends "bitter and sweet orange peel, cacao nibs, star anise, and just a touch of Saigon cinnamon with plenty of hearty pumpkin and a toasty, graham cracker malt profile," the brewery says. Epic will be host a release party on August 13, from 7 to 10 p.m. Cans are expected to start appearing on shelves the following week.
And now, a pumpkin Twitter rant.