Friday, October 11, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Pumpkin Beers Part 2

Last year I went crazy and tasted a truckload of pumpkin beers in an effort to make sense of the overwhelming amount of pumpkin seasonals on the shelf.  I tried to fill in the gaps this year with some of the ones I missed.  I knocked these out tonight, so if my tasting notes are a little off-kilter it's because I obviously bit off more than I could chew.  Some of these things have alcohol levels that would kill a sheep. 

Epic Brewing Imperial Pumpkin Porter-  This is a porter that has a little pumpkin shoved in as an afterthought.  I always think of porters as being drunk by grouchy English sailors.  While I still think the English Old Salt would say something like, “Gimme that beer you fucking nancy cunt!” it would be in somewhat endearing fashion unlike if he figured out that a pumpkin got shoved in there.  I think he’d get pissed about that.  I think he'd yell at you in a lot of slang you wouldn't understand, and you would feel like less of a man because you tried to dainty up his porter with pumpkin.  This is a beer that fat guys with beards at microbrew events pretend to love because it is almost undrinkable.

Fat Head Spooky Tooth-  This is well balanced and flavorful like everything that Fat Heads does.  Please note that it has 9% alcohol so it will kick the fuck out of you.  This seems like something that would be stocked at a Halloween party, and you don’t even notice how smooth they are as you knock them back while wearing a Batman costume.  Then you wake up the next morning in a camper with your pubic area covered by glitter and there is a video camera set up on a tripod pointed at the bed.  As you wonder what happened and whom the couple in the genie costumes are passed out next to you, you notice all the empty bottles of the Fat Heads lying around everywhere.

RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale-  This is a lighter version of the Fat Head.  It’s OK, but it needs more pumpkin.  It needs more everything.  It tastes like something Coors would brew.  This tastes like it was brewed by committee.  I would imagine that if Sears made a seasonal pumpkin beer, it would taste like this.  The brewer is from South of the Macon Dixon line, where it appears it is almost impossible to brew great beer.  Why is it that for an area to create good beer, it also has to have lousy weather?  It's the band/beer connection.  Seattle/Portland/Michigan all have wet crappy weather and good bands.  I'm not sure how Denver fits in...   

Ithaca Beer Company Country Pumpkin-  There’s lots of pumpkin.  It’s restrained on spice, but it’s still there.  It tastes like a Fall day.  It’s really drinkable.  The town of Ithaca has a lot of burly hippie dudes in flannel shirts listening to Phish, smoking weed, and hoping the economy improves.  (It won’t.)  I’m surprised that this isn’t ballsier, but hippie dudes aren’t really “ballsy”, are they?  This is more along the lines of “a mellow tasty buzz man”.

Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale-  I had my doubts on this as it comes in a giant orange bottle trumpeting how organic it is.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but usually the more “organic” something is, the shittier it tastes. Girls in peasant skirts and Birkenstocks are not normally noted for their culinary skills, you know what I mean?  They can do yoga and are usually pretty good at crafts.  They can’t cook though.  However, this is outstanding.  Pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon on the finish in a deep amber color announce this as a “Big Boy” beer.  I’m a huge fan of this.  This beer is the “American Beauty” of pumpkin beers.

Southern Tier Warlock-  Wow.  Like a pumpkin coffee with cream and caramel.  I don’t think I could drink two of these, but one is just fine.  It’s 8.6% alcohol, so it is important to stay in your shoes with this.  It’s one of the most unique and interesting beers I have had in a really long time.  This is one of those “once is fine, twice is too much” like if you spent a night with Lady Gaga in a hotel room or went camping with the Hell’s Angels.  That is an experience that once would be pretty memorable.  The second time would just leave you kind of shell shocked and looking for answers.

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale-  This is like a prototype of a “pumpkin ale”.  It’s balanced, spicy and has well integrated pumpkin flavor.  It just doesn’t really go all the way.  This is for people that like black labs, Bruce Springsteen, and consider the Camaro to be the pinnacle of a sports car.  That is not to say that these things do not have some value on their own, but once you know better, it’s hard to be satisfied with this.

Sam Adams Fat Jack-  Sam Adams gets wild and brews some crazy shit because they can.  This is one of those beers.  They drop 28 pounds of pumpkins into the brew kettle for this.  It sounds like a good idea.  I just wish it tasted better.  It’s like a reduced sauce version of Harvest Pumpkin Ale that you need to drink out of a snifter.  I kind of hated it.  I know it seems like bullshit to call out Sam Adams for not taking chances on their other beer, and then say, “you took chances with this and I hate it” but I’m doing it.  If this were a band it would be like Soundgarden.  It is really bombastic and when you look a little closer you notice there is no real substance.

Unita Brewing Company Punk’n- Let’s get this out of the way.  Unita has absolutely awesome graphic art.  Their design work is as good as it gets.  It’s just a damn shame the beer isn’t as good.  I mean, it’s OK but completely forgettable.  This beer reminds me of when I came home with Black Flag’s “Loose Nut” record.  It looked so fucking cool, and then I put it on the turntable and thought, “This sounds like Black Flag, but why do I want to get “Slip It In” or “Damaged” out and not listen to this again?”  This is the beer version of “Loose Nut”.  It’s pretty good, but why drink “Loose Nut” when you can have “Damaged”, right?

Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider-  I cannot stress how terrible this is.  I knew I would regret buying this the second I did it.  This is sort of like a sweet tart that has been dissolved into a melted Popsicle.  The odd thing about it is the whiff of bile on the nose that rises from the glass like a bad omen.  It's almost as if it is telling you that you will be barfing with authority in hours after drinking this.  The only use of this product I can see would be for high school senior football players to use as heavy artillery in their efforts to finger their younger girlfriends at house parties and back seats of vans.  I studied the bottle and thought I saw the brew master’s name was Mengele, but I might have been mistaken.  I was reeling from the initial taste.  

If you are interested in last year's tasting notes, they are available here:


At October 11, 2013 at 6:02:00 PM EDT , Blogger vfh159 said...

I nearly cried. Alcohol is verboten since the other half's heart issue reared its ugly head and I, the good wife that I am, am all support and denial to myself. God, I would give the tip of my right pinkie for a single Dogfish 90.


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