Posted by: Addison – Sep 20, 2012
Pumpkin Mania Pt. 1: Pumpkin Ales
The perfect time for pumpkin ales is finally here! Those who are new to the world of craft beers and pumpkin goodness may think this just means choosing between one or two brands at your local market, but there are actually a ton of different types out there, and no two are alike. Some actually contain pumpkin, whether it be puree, flavoring syrup, or chunks brewed into the mash. Others just use the name because they are made with spices like cloves and cinnamon, so they taste kind of like pumpkin pie. Each option offers a totally unique flavor experience, as well as a totally unique alcohol content! In fact, simply selecting something that calls itself a pumpkin ale is no way to know what you’re in for: you might be sipping something that tastes more like a Starbucks drink and goes light on the alcohol, or a bitter mash-brew that will knock you off your feet if you don’t sip slow!
Luckily, beeradvocate.com has compiled this amazing list to help make the selection process a little easier. It provides you with a ranked list of pumpkin beers in order of positive reviews, and tells you the alcohol content and maker of each one. Every entry is also a link to a more detailed review of the beer, which makes it super-easy to find out more about the brews that stand out to you on the list. One of my all-time favorites is the infamous Pumking by Southern Tear, which packs a whopping 8.7% ABV and contains pureed pumpkin, giving it a rich and bold flavor. For something a little tamer, try Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin. It’s only 5.9%, and it is much smoother and maltier than some of its contemporaries.
No matter which pumpkin ale you choose, you’re bound to have a rich flavor experience that gets you in the mood for sweater weather, Halloween, and the not-so-far-away onslaught of the dreaded holiday season. Just remember to drink responsibly and tip your bartenders!
Pumpkin Mania Pt. 2: Pumpkin Coffee
Now that pumpkin beer and actual pumpkins are back in season, it’s also time for pumpkin lattes and coffee! Like pumpkin brews, you have sugary-sweet and decadent options in the form of the infamous Starbucks pumpkin latte, as well as bold and robust options in the form of ground coffee with added spices.
The Starbucks pumpkin latte comes back into stores every year on September 4th, and is around through Halloween and Thanksgiving, until the holiday season officially starts and it is replaced by the peppermint latte. This drink, like all Starbucks drinks, is made up of mostly milk, sugar, and espresso, but also contains pumpkin syrup, some, spices, and whipped cream. The stuff that makes this drink pumpkin spice rather then regular coffee is all in the syrupy goodness, not the actual brew of the coffee.
If this is your thing, you can pick up a drink from your local Starbucks, but be prepared to drop a few bucks; like all their drinks, it isn’t exactly cheap. You can also make your own pumpkin spice late using this awesome D.I.Y. recipe from thekitchn.com, which calls for milk, espresso, syrup, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice. If you are more into supporting your local coffee shops, most usually break out the pumpkin syrup around this time of year and either have their own, custom drinks or are glad to add a little pumpkin to your chai or latte. Crossroads, Lamplighter, and Rostov’s in Richmond, to name a few, all have great specialty pumpkin drinks in the fall. And of course, 7-11 has a pumpkin spice “latte” on tap that, while incredibly sugary and delicious, tastes pretty processed and nondescript. Still, you can’t go wrong for a dollar a refill all the time.
Finally, there is the kind of pumpkin coffee experience that is to pumpkin lattes what Pumking is to some of the sweeter, spicier beers. Ground coffee with spices, and even sometimes pumpkin pieces, roasted into the mix, gives you that full, fall flavor without any syrup or drinks that are more milk and sugar then coffee. Those who drink black coffee all year round will rejoice that they can join in this craze but not compromise the integrity of their coffee drinking. Gevalia makes a pumpkin spice roast that blends the flavor of Arabica beans with cinnamon and ginger, and this is just one of the many brands that sells ground pumpkin coffee.
No matter what your pumpkin coffee preferences are, you are bound to find something you like this season, and between that and pumpkin beer, you can enjoy the spiciness 24/7 until the holiday season rolls around!