Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Definitive Summer Guide To Pumpkin Beers

Wait what?  Pumpkin beers in the summer?  Yes indeed, as the breweries fight to be the first one with pumpkin beers on the shelves the release dates have continues to creep up, to the point where Crown Valley's Pumpkin Smash was released on August 1st this year in Baton Rouge!  Whether you look at Summer in the celestial sense of June 21st to September 21st, or in the Louisiana sense of April-May until basically early October, August 1st is pretty much right in the middle. That being said, here are some of the pumpkin beers we can expect to see around Baton Rouge, and my thoughts...

Ace Pumpkin Cider - Obviously a cider and not a beer, this is a 5% post-Labor Day release. My suggestion: sure, if you really like cider.

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale - No.

Brooklyn Brewery Post Road - A traditional pumpkin ale, it's listed as August-November availability so expect to see it any day now.  It's absolutely worth a try, but don't get your hopes up for something extremely daring.  My suggestion: try it when it comes out, and if you see some still around come Thanksgiving, grab some more. With a minimal hop profile, a little age won't hurt a thing, but at only 5%, it's not going to help either.

Crown Valley Imperial Pumpkin Smash - As mentioned above, this one is already out.  It's a pumpkin imperial stout and it's a good one.  The problem is that it's still way too fucking hot for a 10.6% stout. My suggestion: buy a 4-pack, if you want to try one now go for it, but save the rest for when the weather gets cold. Or maybe buy another 4-pack and save a few for next year and compare to that release.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale - This one isn't available in Louisiana, but if you make your way to Houston for the LSU-Wisconsin game or head to Florida for a late Summer beach trip you might see it on the shelves. It's typically released around September 1st, and my suggestion is to grab a pack if you see it, because they usually go fast.

Harpoon Pumpkin Cider - Yes, Harpoon makes cider.  No, I've never tried it.  I'm not even sure if we're going to get this in Baton Rouge, but I'll be trying it if we do, because I'm a pretty big fan of cider.  This is also an August release, so if I see it I will report back later, but for now my suggestion is that if you like cider, why not give it a try?

Harpoon UFO Pumpkin - Yet another August release, what sets this one apart is that it's unfiltered, and it's 5.9% which is stronger than the rest of the non-imperial pumpkin ales on this list. My suggestion: If you want a little more kick without getting into a real high-gravity beer, this is one to try.

Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela - The name of the brewery is Jolly Pumpkin, and they usually put out some really good and interesting beers, so I'd have high hopes for this one.  I haven't ever tried it, but I'll definitely grab one if I see it on shelves this year.

McAuslan St. Ambroise Pumpkin - I'm 99% sure we'll get some of this down here, I've definitely seen the McAuslan beers before.  They are out of Canada, and they do a really good Apricot beer, so I'd have high hopes for their pumpkin release as well.

New Belgium Pumpkick - Their version of a pumpkin beer is brewed with cranberry juice and lemongrass.  My suggestion: If you like sour beers, this might be the pumpkin beer for you.

Saint Arnold Pumpkinator - Yes!  This one is released every year around October 15th, which is the PERFECT time for a good pumpkin beer. Buy some, enjoy it, age it, share it. You won't be disappointed. Don't try to drink too many by yourself though, or you'll be hurting the next morning.


Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale - According to their website this is not currently brewed... so... I guess I'll have to pass!

Shipyard Pumpkinhead - One of the older pumpkin beers that I can remember, this one comes out in August as well, so sometime soon! It's only 4.5%, and a traditional lighter pumpkin beer.  My suggestion: give it a try, it's not the best on this list, but not the worst either.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin - This is basically an imperial version of the Pumpkinhead, a little darker and a lot stronger, doubled to 9%.  It's also an August release, and I recommend grabbing a bottle or two, one for now and one for later.  This one should age pretty well.

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat - No.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale - Another one that I haven't tried, I expect it to be released in Louisiana as I've seen previous Southampton beers on the shelves.  Their Double White and Imperial Porter are both excellent, so I'll give their pumpkin ale a try for sure.

Southern Tier Pumking - They describe this one as an Imperial Pumpkin Ale, at 8.6% with an August release.  I haven't seen any in Baton Rouge yet, but they are probably coming soon as well.  I reviewed one for Feature Beer Friday! a while back, and my sentiment holds true, it's worth picking a few up but not much point in aging these, although it won't hurt anything.

Terrapin Pumpkinfest - Honestly I've never tried this one, but we will likely get some in, as we got the previous seasonal, Maggie's Farmhouse peach ale. It's a german-style brew at 6.1%, I'll probably grab a pack and give it a try.

Wasatch Pumpkin Ale - I can't find release info on this one, but it's likely to be out soon. This one is the most "pumpkin pie" of all the pumpkin beers, and only at 4%.  My suggestion: get some for your friends or family that don't really like beer, they'll probably enjoy it.  And if not, you can always cook with the rest.

Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider - There is no release date that I see, but this is one of their limited releases, so quantity will likely be relatively small.  It's 6.9%, so if like cider and want a little more bite than the Ace or Harpoon, find some of these.