For today, a little beer and a little wine. Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale. 8.5% alcohol by volume; 22 ounces; suggested retail $5 99-$6.99.The barrels in which this beer is aged each contain 28 pounds of real pumpkin.
Pumpkin ale is not a Sam Adams invention; indeed it was made by early New England colonists. The problem back then was that malt was scarce. The solution was to use locally grown pumpkins instead. It established a fall tradition.
This beer features a tan-colored average size head, very frothy, lasting. The nose leans toward malt of medium intensity with pumpkin spice, bread, molasses, caramel, toast and roasted notes. Low intensity hops.
The palate is dry to off-dry; it's pumpkin pie in a glass. Medium bitterness, acidity, tannin, carbonation, medium alcohol that is well-integrated. Medium–plus body. Medium–plus flavor intensity that reflects the nose with a load of complexity. Malt and spice predominate, as above. Good balance, length, intensity, concentration and flavor.
Well worth a try for the season. The recommended pairings include heartier dishes such as duck, lamb or roasted pork, particularly pork with spice rubs. Carrot cake is a possibility too, as well as cheesecake. Of course, you could always have it with pumpkin pie.
Sam Adams Ruby Mild. 5.6% abv. Part of the Harvest Collection 12 pack, $14.99 to $17.99 SRP. Billed as being inspired by English mild ale, the style that rose to prominence in the 1800s during the railway boom as a refreshing drink for English laborers who could then go back to work and not lay railroad tracks at 90-degree angles from where they were supposed to be.
The beer is a blend of seven malts including Maris Otter, a traditional English malt known for its toasty character. The hops are East Kent Golding; they give some earthiness and bitterness to it. It's 5.6% alcohol by volume, making it almost a session beer. Average size head, pretty creamy and lasting. Amber-orange-red hues for the beer. Low malt, low hops on the nose. Some grain and caramel notes. The palate is dry, with very high acidity, medium bitterness and tannin, well-integrated alcohol, medium body and texture. Malt and spice on the pallet. Good quality.
The recommended pairings for this include roasted meats, spätzle, chili and soup.
And for you wine lovers, 90+ Riesling, 2012, Mosel Germany, lot 66. 9.5% abv; $10 at Market Basket.
Being a 90+ wine, we don't know where exactly it comes from, one vineyard or several, other than to say it is a wine from the Mosel Valley region of Germany. Lemon-gold in the glass, with a clean nose of medium plus intensity of fruit including white fruit, pear and apple. Slowly developing. The palate is in the Kabinett to Spätlese range. The tannins are low, and soft. Medium alcohol and medium body for a Mosel wine. On the flavor profile, pear predominates, with white apple and some citrus in the background. Long finish. Ready to drink now, very good quality. It has balance, concentration and length. Worth more than the $10 you'll be paying for it at Market Basket. 90 points.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com.