I’m a fan of nearly all things pumpkin.
Over the next couple of months, I look forward to thick slices of pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin rolls, big blocks of pumpkin fudge, heavy scoops of pumpkin ice cream and, if my miserable garden can cough them up, enough pumpkins to make few quarts of pumpkin butter.
But I’ve never been fond of pumpkin beer. Most of the pumpkin beers I’ve had over the years tasted like carbonated dirt.
The only purpose pumpkin beer serves by taking up space on a store shelf is to signal the imminent arrival of Halloween. It’s a reminder to go pick up candy for the kids — you’re not supposed to actually buy the beer.
But the number of craft beers has exploded over the past few years; there are more types and flavors than ever before. Seriously, I found a whole line of marshmallow beers. Who thought that was a good idea?
Nevertheless, I figured if someone could make marshmallow beer, somebody might have come up with at least one pumpkin beer I’d like and could even recommend.
So, on a recent sunny Friday afternoon, I drove to Drug Emporium and picked up an assortment of new-to-me pumpkin beers. The weekend beckoned.
My best of the lot was Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout from Southern Tier Brewing Company in New York. It was a nice, rich mix of malty with a modest amount of pumpkin with a little pumpkin spice.
I liked it well enough that I could see myself having two on a particularly cold October night. But with an 8.6 ABV, I’d need to pass along trick-or-treat candy distribution duties to my dog if I had more than much more than two.
Block House Brewing’s Pumpkin Ale was pretty good. It was on the sweeter side — not quite pumpkin pie sweet, but definitely more of an after-dinner beer. I might order this off the menu with dinner, if I happened to be somewhere that sold fine, pumpkin beer.
I’m sure these places exist, just nobody brags about it.
Also decent was Shipyard Pumpkinhead. It had a nice pumpkin flavor, but wasn’t too earthy. It reminded me a little of pumpkin bread. I thought it would go well with a plate of loaded cheese fries.
Of the six, the only beer I outright disliked and poured down the sink was Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head.
This tasted like the tears of a middle-aged Linus van Pelt, lost in his pumpkin patch on Halloween night after Sally kicked him out, and now he’s living in Charlie Brown’s basement.
Everything would be OK if the Great Pumpkin showed up, but of course, he’s never going to. He never does.