Pumpkin Ale, which ones to drink, which ones to skip

When fall season begins it means one thing for beer lovers, pumpkin ales. While most of the states will start to feel a chill in the air and soon the leaves will be changing, South Florida will still be sweltering, so a nice cold brew is still in order. Since Miami’s seasons are hot and hotter, and still very much the latter, a cool pumpkin spiced beer is the only way to feel autumns chill.

The Traveler Beer Company, Jack-O Pumpkin Shandy, 4.4%abv. is billed as a wheat beer brewed with lemon, natural flavors and pumpkin added. The appearance pretty much looks like muddy water with a little bit of orange in there. The nose is filled with pumpkin spices, especially allspice and cinnamon with a lot of lemon zest sharing the spotlight. The palate starts out with pleasing lemon and then the baking spices. There is a drying quality the spices bring out and lead to a short finish.

New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO, Pumpkick, 6%abv. is bright amber with a thin off white head. The nose has orange and baking spices. There is also a pleasing sweet roasted malt aroma in the background. The palate has muted flavors of its aroma that finishes with an off-putting metallic taste. The New Belgium Pumpkick is very disappointing, after such a beautiful color and fantastic aromas only to fall flat when it reaches the tongue.

Patchogue, Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company, Pumpkin Ale is 5.5%abv. Its bright reddish-amber color is topped with a quickly fading khaki head. Pleasant aromas of roasted malt, sweet caramel and pumpkin baking spices. This beer also tastes flat and uninteresting.

Kentucky Brewing, Pumpkin Barrel Beer, 10.8%abv. has a nice dark amber color in the glass. You can really smell the bourbon notes up front. The vanilla is strong up front and balanced with malt, pumpkin and spices rounding out the nose. The palate echoes the nose and is very satisfying. The richness gained from the bourbon barrel aging really gives this ale a great full-bodied mouth feel. Enjoy this brew with spiced pork roast and then with pumpkin pie alamode afterwards.

Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, ME, Smashed Pumpkin weighs in at 9 %abv. This all has a bright orange color with a quickly receding off white head. Upfront aromas are malty with pumpkin pie baking spices. The palate has tart citrus and pumpkin upfront. The baking spices come in behind the pumpkin but never overwhelm the nice pumpkin flavor. The citrus on the finish leads to a medium palate cleansing finish. The Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin would be great to drink with pumpkin muffins that are baked with Smashed Pumpkin used in the batter.

Pumpkin beers get you into the swing of the season without the cool weather. Pop open a pumpkin ale, turn the air conditioner to 68 degrees and sit back and enjoy.

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