By D.J. Paul
On Sunday afternoon I stopped in at Saraveza to take in their Pumpkin Ale Tasting. To celebrate Halloween, Saraveza had five pumpkin ales on tap. In the photo from left to right are the beers that were featured: Amnesia “Headless Horseman”, Jolly Pumpkin “La Parcelon No. 1”, Elysian “Night Owl”, Dogfish Head “Punkin’” and Southern Tier “Pumking”.
Amnesia’s Headless Horseman was the first beer tasted. This pumpkin ale offered very little aroma with its deep red-copper color. There was only a slight taste of pumpkin so not one that offers up anything special for this category.
On to the Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela No. 1. This light golden color oaked pumpkin ale was a sour beer in aroma and taste. The sourness overwhelms any possible pumpkin notes during its taste. However, after the sourness on the tongue went away some pumpkin was noticed. I was just expecting a bit more from Jolly Pumpkin since I’m rarely disappointed in their beers from Dexter, MI.
Elysian’s Night Owl was the most impressive in the bunch. The Night Owl poured a nice copper color along with a nice pumpkin spice aroma in the nose. This pumpkin ale was quite drinkable and overall very enjoyable. Probably the most well balanced of the five pumpkin ales.
One of the two pumpkin ale’s that I have had previously was Dogfish Head’s Punkin’ and this years seemed to taste a bit better than what I had remembered. This year’s version is much better balanced on the spice notes than what my memory allows. Its dark copper red color and very slight pumpkin aroma is very inviting.
The other pumpkin ale that I have had prior was Southern Tier’s Pumking. This Imperial Pumpkin Ale poured a nice orange-copper color and offered the most pumpkin aroma and taste to it and the closest to that of pumpkin pie. Beyond the higher amount of spice in the nose, this beer seems to have a bit of breadiness to it and comes off with a very dry finish. Because of this dryness I would rank this one a close second behind Elysian’s Night Owl. And if you can find this one on tap, I did prefer this version to their bottled version that I drank the previous evening.
Pumpkin Ales offer a nice, unique taste that accentuates nicely with the crisp autumn air. Most people don’t know this but this beer style is part of our American heritage, George Washington is said to have brewed beer with pumpkins so this style has been around for quite some time. Plus there is a category for this style at the Great American Beer Festival under Field Beer that had 28 entries this year. So don’t be afraid to try one of the fine pumpkin ales that are on tap or in bottle this autumn season.