So, every couple of months my husband’s office goes out and buys a bunch of cases of beer and mixes and matches them. Currently, we’re working on a batch of pumpkin brews and Oktoberfest beers.
Now, I’d like to say something about the pumpkin wagon. Specifically, that I am not on it. It seems like a lot of breweries are content with throwing some cinnamon and sugar in a beer, thinking up a clever name, and slapping a pumpkin on the label. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of thought put into the end product of the beer. That said, I’ll start my reviews with the best of the bunch.
The Traveler Beer Company: Jack-O Shandy (5):
This beer is pretty, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” Cinnamon and citrus with a juicy pumpkin taste. All the flavors are balanced and my husband had this finished before I got more than a few steps. I’m not familiar with this brewery, but I’ll keep my eye out for them.
Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ales: Pumpkin Ale (3):
It’s okay. A bit of a bitter aftertaste. Some cinnamon. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from this brewery. They’re consistently mediocre.
Penn Brewery: Pumpkin Roll (2.5):
Sweet, cinnamony, pumpkinish, and a bit cloying in the heat. A better beer to split than to have alone.
An important part of any beach vacation is booze. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve been drinking for my week on the beach.
Dark and Stormy:
My sister introduced me to this drink. A small glass filled with ice, ginger beer (although I suppose you could substitute ginger ale) and dark rum, and if you’re feeling frisky some bitters, and you’re done. It takes a minute to make three (one for you, one for your husband, and one for your mother-in-law). The spiciness of the ginger beer is a perfect complement to the dark rum. How much from you add, is up to you. There was a hefty dose in mine, and I was feeling pretty good by the end of the glass. Be careful though, lest you end up with a dark and stormy morning. We bought Reed’s ginger beer, and Gosling’s dark rum. The ginger beer was decent. I highly recommend the rum.
This beer is pretty much always in my fridge. It’s cheap and delicious, what more do you want from a beer? The answer is nothing. You want nothing more from a beer. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t drink other beers, as I do enjoy variety.
Leinenkugel Orange Shandy:
I can neither pronounce nor spell the name of this brewery. That hasn’t stopped me from buying their beer. I liked the orange shandy, although I would describe as being sweeter than their normal summer shandy. It had a very strong orange flavor with a bit of cinnamon. I’m not sure if everyone else really liked it, but my husband and I enjoyed it.
Mirassou Pinot Noir:
A lovely red wine, smooth and warm in your mouth, with little to no sulfites. So, you could probably drink half a bottle and not be hung over. I only had a couple glasses, which I really enjoyed.
Robust amber hue and my nostrils are at a salute. Hot, peppery, gingery aroma clears the sinuses. Grapefruit pings a far away vessel on the edge of the horizon. In a row boat filled with peaches, the pit I have rolled around in my mouth a hundred times, I am salt pulled reluctantly from the seeping shoreline, salt pulled from the core of peach guts. Salty finish keeps my lips dry, tongue wet. Rolling the tongue along the crest of each wave anchored in crunchy mouthfeel of salted, lime-soaked Tostitos. I am finished now, around the lip of empty bottles under the skyline of an orange sun, I am not the salt. I am done.
Amber cloudy with medium head. Smells clean and hoppy. Alive and fresh in medium bubble with ginger and citrus finish. Mind spinning as I take a sip, another sip, another sip half gulping into the bitter. Where is the slip n slide I was expecting, of hops I am supposed to splash into? Instead I am submerged entirely in a bath of bitter. I am tasting a surprise. This new flavor trifecta, bright clean hops, is the first time I have ever had a bitter, so I am on a new plane. Super dimensional ginger, spicy pepper, clove, and lemon zest explode in my mouth. I see the horizon of a new planet from the edge of my cratered tongue. One small step for man. One giant leap for my mouth.
Labor Day road trip to Burlington, VT, in pursuit of the great Heady Topper. Research takes us to Penny Cluse Cafe. We sample biscuits and pesto cream gravy; banana bread with walnut cream cheese; bucket of spuds topped with chive, cilantro, and sour cream; corn polenta; and apple wood smoked bacon. Delicious food paired with long sought after brew.
Heady Topper comes in a can. Side of the can directions explicitly state: drink from the can! Drank out of can vs. from a glass, the can sips taste best.
Aroma is light and citrusy, and lagery, and fresh. Hops are hinted at in a pepper scent spiked with spice.
Appearance seems like a lager, champagne gold like Miller High Life. I am wondering where in this drink is the hops.
Flavor is a short hop, neat and tidy. Tongue dives into the home plate which is in fact a dish of lemon slices. IPA is super brief that finishes more like a dry ale.
Overall I will try this again. I enjoy its levity and lusciously squeezable citrus body.
Unexpectedly this does not taste like an IPA, but surprisingly it cleaned my palate. I will revisit with a different pairing of food stuffs.
Aroma is clean, tart, makes my mouth buds water.
Color is dark mahogany, tiny bubble roam up the side of the glass. Opaque red when held to the light lets no brightness pass through. No head except for lacing of 1/4 inch bubble meniscus caught against the edge of the glass.
Flavor is sweet in a high frequency. Very chewy mouthfeel. Wave crashes quickly down to a tart rush that makes my mouth water. Almost cranberry sour.
Sweet and simple goodness.
Rogue Chocolate Stout:
Smells like a deep chocolate bar wrapped in paper, waiting to be ripped opened and devoured.
Huge head makes me want to wrap my mouth around this treasure. Dark color seems like liquid cocoa.
Flavor is delicious, not as chalky as usual stout. Sweetness lightens to a bready mouthfeel.
Mixing Lambic and Stout together:
Flavor is joint venture of fruit and chocolate with a nutty texture. Raspberry brings out a lemony sharpness against the chocolate. Fresh, light, and perfectly paired with blueberry pie.
It is autumn time again, and with it comes the rights of fall. The rights of fall include drinking and smashing pumpkins, whether they are your own or belong to your neighbors. If it were any other season it would be inappropriate, but now is the time when dead leaves crunch underfoot and little goblins go door-to-door for tricks, so why not treat yo self?
This cloudy amber-colored pumpkin ale appears cloudy amber with dissolving head that sinks like a doughnut made of bubbles. Golden bubble doughnuts fall to the bottom of the glass as my explanation for what look like crumbs settle.
Pumpkin pie nose reminds me of these holiday dinners where as a kid I would hesitate to eat dessert and skip straight to the Christmas tree, burying my face in these ornaments made of gingham cats stuffed with clove. The nutmeg is like that ornament, bunting my senses with welcoming spice.
Flavor is caramel and a burnt sugar with custard build. Thin carbonation burns and brightens the heaviness of the 9% abv, rolling like pebbles at the bottom of the ocean. Sandy mouthfeel with pumpkin and clove waves crashing against hops.
Overall this is my pumpkin go to beer. I am always looking for something to take its place.
My glass of Terrible doesn’t take long to go down. From the look of it I cannot tell if it’s purple or chestnut. This 10.5% abv seems dark and complex and I am anticipating layers. I shove my face over the four fingered head. Wafts of sourdough and flowers on the nose, I am reminded how awful it is to wait for the foam to go down. Mouthfeel is dense woody, and textured with medium bubble. Belgian through and through in fog of plum and fig. Enclosed in this forest so dense and alive flavors are a lot to get to. Dancing somewhere in the distance I detect a spice. Her name may be clove, anis, cumin seed. I want to get to more flavors but will need another round to get to the bottom of this mystery. I cannot wait to try my next bottle.
King Goblin, not unlike its name, is a little haunted. Brewed by Wychwood Ale only on the full moon, it is an illusive batch which graces my taste buds right now. The Belgian style mixes with malt that and makes this interesting flavor that reminds me of wall paper if it were made of maple pancakes. Glued on with a hint of rust on the back of my tongue, I am reminded why I avoid the goblins.
Another ale from North Coast Brewing Company is Otsuchi. An 11.7% abv, this Japanese beer has me thinking that sake is a silk that starts in my shoulders and neck and ends up warming my cheeks and I just sink into it. The sweetness that is found in the bottom of my last glass feels warm. I sip this as I chomp on bunny-shaped chocolate cookies smeared with peanut butter. The sweetness captures a sweet mushroom flavor. A new incarnation of differently placed sensations to be enjoyed again. I will sample this again to be paired with a meal, some steak or fresh bread.
Now onto bed. Following articles will be read with my morning coffee.