Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: A taste of pumpkin means fall is brewing
Yes, it has been hot and muggy, but the reality is that fall is not far away from us now. And with fall comes the arrival of fall beers — that is to say, some beers that are heavier and well-suited to the cool, and later cold weather.
Let's take a look at a few samples coming down the turnpike to local stores.
The first beer for today is a shandy produced by the Traveler Beer Company in Burlington Vt.
We tried some shandys not too long ago and so you'll remember that they're characterized by a lemony flavor. Traveler has added a twist, namely pumpkin flavors. The beer is actually brewed with fresh pumpkin, two–row malted barley and wheat, and the hops are Hallertau Mittelfrüh. The makers refer to it as "the darker side of Shandy." Here it is:
Traveler Jack-O Shandy, Traveler Beer Company, Burlington, Vt., 4.4% alcohol by volume. Frothy, slightly off-white head with amber beer underneath, having just a hint of orange. The nose is loaded with pumpkin and pumpkin spice. These flavors are brightly reflected on the palate, which is high on hops, a little bit of multiple background. It is dry, with a light bitterness, good acidity and carbonation. The body is medium and the texture medium as well. The flavor intensity is high and, as I said, pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice. It has a very long finish that maintains the flavors right through to the end. And yes, this would be an excellent accompaniment to a pumpkin pie dessert on Thanksgiving, but will certainly stand well on its own. This is one that's worth stocking up on for the fall. I bet most everybody who comes to your house for Thanksgiving will love it.
Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider, 5% abv. Prominently marked on the label of the words "naturally gluten-free," making a viable option for many who could not drink beer or cider otherwise. It has a light apple-juice color, very little head, which dissipates quickly. It's clear with a slow stream of carbonation rising up through the cider. The nose is very light and has a hint of sourness to it. The flavor is slightly sweet, with both green and red apple, again that slight taste of sourness, low alcohol, and light body, good flavor intensity. All this makes it a great choice for those fall days that are supposed to be cold but turn out warm instead.
And for those days that actually are cold, try Red Hook Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter, 5.8% abv, Red Hook Brewery, Portsmouth. Now we go to a Porter so dark that you can't see through it. Large, frothy head above a beer that is brown with some hints of red. The nose is a combination of pumpkin spice and malt, along with both bread and molasses. It is on the dry side, with good bitterness, good acidity, relatively low alcohol at 5.8%. Body is medium plus, with a silky/creamy texture, and there's the flavor intensity that moves the pumpkin to the background and the malt to the front with flavors of molasses, cereal, coffee hints and some toast. The pumpkin is still there, in a smoky background.
Now, that should get us started for the fall. More pumpkin ales will be on the way, and I will fill you in on them as they get here.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com.