10% ABV bottled
I have just recovered from a big four-day drinking weekend down in Washington, D.C., highlighted by my first ever visit to Rustico’s Oktoberfest. Luckily, it was a little drizzly out which kept the kind of drinking element away who only hears about events in this world courtesy of “morning zoo” DJs while listening to Top 40 radio. The overt beer geek element was fairly low too for that matter, now that I think about it, though I did see one dweeb in a Kate the Great shirt proudly trying to get his picture taken with a “St. Pauli Girl” whose boobs were veinier than Iggy Pop’s arms. It was mostly an Alexandria/Arlington lot of MILFy women in giant fuck-me boots with even gianter rocks on their hands and pushing the most giantest strollers you done ever seen. As much as I wanted to hate on these women for pushing SUV-sized strollers of crying babies through a beer festival, I was actually kind of jealous that these runner-up trophy wives got their own portable cupholders for them to place their beers in while showing off their engagement rings to other yentas or while holding hands with their latently homosexual husbands. But I digress.
I think I have now well exceeded my amount of fall seasonal beers for 2009 and like the smart kid in elementary school, I may need to skip a grade all the way to winter drinking. I tell ya’, if I never see a malty marzen or a pumpkiny pumpkin beer again this year, it might be too soon. Some of my fall seasonal highlights of the Oktoberfest, all which I’d score an A- minimum:
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest
Bear Republic Late Harvest Oktoberfest
Clipper City Heavy Seas – Prosit! Oktoberfest (cask)
(Surprisingly, my lowlight of the weekend, besides passing out wasted at 8:30 PM on Saturday night, was Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest, recently awarded the gold medal in the marzen category at the Great American Beer Festival. I found it to be a stunningly awful malt mess and since I had no drain nearby to pour it down, I had to resort to dumping onto the parking lot near the Port-o-Potty release plug. Fitting.)
But my two highlights for the weekend would be Clipper City’s Heavy Seas – The Great Pumpkin and The Bruery’s Autumn Maple. I had The Great Pumpkin on cask and I have to say, flat out, it is the best pumpkin beer I have ever had by an order of magnitude. Well outperforming such legendary luminaries as Southern Tier’s Pumking and Dogfish Head’s Punkin, my previously-thought-to-be two best in the category. The Great Pumpkin tastes like if you just dunked your head in a giant pumpkin pie. It’s probably the most pumpkin-tasting pumpkin I’ve ever had as it doesn’t suffer from the over-spicing a lot of pumpkin ales do. And it’s so silky and creamy, oozing down your throat as smooth as a nitro Guinness. Whereas even the best pumpkin ales one grows sick of after a pint or two, this was the one beer I kept revisiting at the festival, going back to the cask booth time after time after time. I really wish I had a cask of this in my house right now, it was that good. Perhaps it was the fact that it was my first ever pumpkin beer on cask–I got to compare The Great Pumpkin side-by-side on tap and it simply lacked the same oomph the cask version had–but this one deserves legendary status. A very impressive effort for Baltimore’s Clipper City.
Now, full disclosure, Autumn Maple was actually the only beer I have discussed today that wasn’t available at the Oktoberfest but I did happen to try it the very same day. A damn shame it wasn’t at the festival, because this might be the finest “Oktober” beer around. Like most The Bruery beers this is a most unique creation. Instead of opting to make a pumpkin beer for fall like everyone else, the boys from Orange County opted for a sweet potato beer.* Huh?!!! Mmmmm, actually. Yams and maple syrup, tons of classic pumpkiny spices, this beer absolute worked for me and along with The Great Pumpkin has to be maybe the best seasonal beer out currently. I know most The Bruery beers are a little pricey compared to other American options, but don’t be scared off in this case. I’m shocked that it merely gets a B on Beer Advocate because this is very much a solid…
*Perhaps for a lack of a category at the moment, BA lists Autumn Maple as a Belgian Strong Dark. Whatever.