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Archive for the ‘Style: Pumpkin Ale’ Category

The Bruery Autumn Maple

October 13th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Clipper City, Brewer: The Bruery, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Style: Pumpkin Ale

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.

Dogfish Head Punkin

October 3rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Pumpkin Ale

7% ABV bottled

We all have the shameful things we do when we get wasted.  I have one buddy who gets sensual massages.  Another can’t help but prank call an ex-girlfriend.  As for me, I always end up stopping at an all-night Indian takeout place next to my apartment and gorging myself.  And, believe me, the repercussions from my drunken act of shame is far worse than my aforementioned friends, even if their acts cost them $80 and a loss of dignity.

I live in Hell’s Kitchen but on 10th Avenue which isn’t quite as gentrified as 9th Avenue.  It’s no “Gangs of New York” or anything, but it’s still a bit rough-and-tumble, and thus there aren’t as many places for late-night grubbing.  Unfortunately no late-night pizzeria near my pad, a seeming impossibility in New York.  Thus, I have to stop at this Indian place and gets some absolutely disgusting mystery-meat-with-rice styrofoam carton combo.  I can’t help myself.  I know the food sucks, I know, but I guess I’m just an optimist, positive at 3 AM, that’s this is the time, yes!, when the food will finally be good and hit the spot.  But nope, it never is.  Last night, I had no cash, and with a $4.99 combo price and only a card on me, I was forced to tell the guy behind the counter to fill a sack with samosas until I had cleared the minimum.  That brown bag of fried meat pastries was so damn greasy that the bottom had nearly split before I’d even left the place.  And the so-called chicken tikka masala was even worse.  An oozing splatter of meat and sauce on some overcooked rice pellets.

You think being hungover is bad, well being hungover and still nauseous from this Indian food is about as bad as it get.  Even worse, before I went out I pre-barred with a little Dogfish Head Punkin.  Each burp today is an ejaculation of spicy chicken and Jameson, with a hint of pumpkin.  That’s the real kicker.  And it’s almost made me never want to have a pumpkin beer again, which is a damn shame as Punkin is a pretty good one.

Not the most potent smelling of pumpkin ales, just a slight spice odor.  A great first taste.  A full-bodied brown ale with a good pumpkin taste and the typical spices.  However, one flavor came through that I don’t believe most pumpkin beers have — brown sugar.  And that was a great addition.

Punkin is very drinkable for a 7% brew, but I would have preferred it to be a little more flavorful.  Kinda mild as far as pumpkin beers go.  A really great mouthfelel and a nice warming finish.  A solid beer.


Post Road Pumpkin Ale

September 8th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Pumpkin Ale

5% ABV

I don’t believe it’s this way in most the rest of the country, but supermarkets in New York allow you to break up six-packs.  This is great because you only have to take a chance on 12 ounces of beer, never getting stuck with a potential 72 ounces of shit.  Here are some Manhattan supermarket beer-buying tips:

Whole Foods is still the king of supermarket beer-buying in New York with an exquisite and plentiful selection.  And at fair prices too.  Aside from the Bowery location, all the other locales allow you to break up sixers and seem to have an unwritten rule of charging exactly $2.50 per beer single.  That’s not a great price for a lot of one-offs, but for some big boys it is remarkable (see:  Ayinger Celebrator).

D’Agostino is located right across the street from me and has a decent enough selection, with the full line of Stone bombers for as cheap as $3.99 per.  They have the most rational single deal, selling looseys for exactly one-sixth of their six-pack price.  Unfortunately, most of their cashiers can’t do the basic math formula:

(6-pack price) / 6 = what I ask the customer to pay me

Often you might find yourself standing in line for an extra fifteen minutes watching the abacus inside the register ringer’s head churn as several co-workers gather around to try and assist.  This will lead to hipsters and surly old people behind you in line getting upset at your for being the guy who couldn’t just act normal and buy a straight six-pack but who instead bought six bottles of six different beers.

This is a prevailing theme at NYC stores, though, and D’Agostino is sadly nowhere close to being the worst offender.

Also, sometimes you can scam D’Ag when it comes to fancier craft breweries that sell their beers in four-packs.  In this scenario instead of doing:

(4-pack price) / 4 = what I ask the customer to pay me

they still divide by six, cutting your price point down a bit.  And I know your next question. Yes I’m a 29-year-old man that gets my jollies out of duping supermarkets out of a buck or two.  Sue me.

Gristedes is far and away the biggest piece of shit store in the entire metro area.  Filthy, messy, product strewn all about, terrible prices, chaos everywhere as if some looterious riot has just occurred, and painfully inattentive employees.  However, they have a pretty darn good brew selection.  Nevertheless, they don’t seem to allow you to break up sixers, though I’m not sure even the managers there know official store policy.

Several times I’ve gone to the register with a bottle or two and had the cashier woman nonchalantly say, “That’ll be $10.99.”  “For a single beer?”  “You get charged the entire six-pack price.”  “So, I get charged $10.99 whether I buy one beer or six beers?”  “Yes.”  “You didn’t think it would be wise to tip me off to this before ringing me up?”

Let’s just say the workers at Gristedes don’t have a lot of horsepower between their ears.  No wonder the store is going bankrupt.

Food Emporium has an adequate beer selection but no sixers remarkable enough to consider breaking apart.  I rarely go there for beer, especially because most of it is not refrigerated.

Morton Williams has a damn fine beer selection but the aisles are incredibly narrow even for Manhattan standards and I simply don’t viscerally like entering the place.  The name alone sounds like a paint store.  Sherwin’s half-brother or something.

I picked up a grab bag of singles at D’Ag over the weekend.  And yes, it took about 25 minutes for the women to figure out how much I owed, and even then she screwed up.

As I’ve mentioned before, when September and October roll around, I will pretty much purchase every single Oktoberfest and pumpkin ale I see on the shelves.  Post Road Pumpkin Ale is Brooklyn Brewery’s offering, and quite frankly, I cannot recall ever trying it, though I’m certain I must have in the past.

Right off that bat I thought I was tasting a simple spiced beer as I was absolutely overwhelmed by nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice, I could barely detect any pumpkin flavors at all.  And though I do like a lot of spiciness in my pumpkin ales, the big guy should still be front and center.  Luckily, the pumpkiny tastes do come through eventually though not as much as I like.  I want to be nailed in the face with a nice slab of pumpkin pie, and Brooklyn didn’t quite cut it.

Having said that, Post Road Pumpkin is a very drinkable and oddly refreshing pumpkin beer.  However, I’m starting to realize after having finally tried the brilliant Pumking this season, that most others are just going to seem inferior, dwarfed in comparison.  Wish I’d made Pumking my last pumpkin beer of the autumn instead of my first.


Southern Tier Pumking

September 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Southern Tier, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Pumpkin Ale

9% ABV from a bomber

John Jay was America’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, one of the founding fathers of this country, and a man who was strongly anti-slavery.

John Jay College is a dump of a school in my neighborhood whose beginning of fall classes and its perpetually sidewalk-lingering students always are one of the worst signs of the start of Fall.

Look, there’s plenty to bash about NYU and Columbia both university-wise and student-makeup-wise, but I don’t live across the street from those schools so I don’t have to deal with their riff-raff every fucking day.  On the other hand, those institutions are so formidable that they don’t only exist in one single building like John Jay seemingly does.

Having said that, I know nothing about John Jay as an academic institution since they don’t play high-level football or men’s basketball which is they only reason I am aware of any college.  Also, I’m too lazy to look up online how reputable the school is. Thus, all I can base my hatred of John Jay on is what its stupid “scholars” look and act like as they steal a little enjoyment from my life daily.

Firstly, as mentioned John Jay clearly has no high-level athletics, but they must have the top cigarette-smoking team in the nation.  I don’t know if they offer scholarships for tobacco-inhalation or if they just happen to attract the best of the best due to reputation alone.  Fuck, even their “walk-ons” are prodigious puffers as literally every single person in the school must smoke, clogging up the sidewalks of Tenth Avenue near 59th street all evening long.  The ACS should get off MJ’s back and instead focus their attention on John Jay kids.  Actually, scratch that, something tells me that John Jay doesn’t offer a lecture course in self-inflicted eugenics so the problem will handle itself.

For visitors to John Jay, the first thing you’ll notice are the female students.  You’ll no doubt remark, “Huh, I didn’t think Manhattan had a red light district any more.  I guess Giuliani drove them all from Times Square to Tenth.”  Sad to report, though, those aren’t hookers.  Hell’s Kitchen’s prostitutes don’t look and dress so similar to Miss Piggy.  A little similar sure, that’s to be expected, but not all-out adorned in skin tight dresses struggling to remain pulled over their giant shelf of a rump, totally-inappropriate-for-the-classroom boas and costume jewelry, with massive bouffant wigs.

Also, hookers typically don’t have backpacks slung over their humps which they got for free by amassing 1000 Kool points.  Likewise, while streetwalkers enjoy street “meat,” John Jay co-eds like literal street meat, gorging themselves on hot dogs and cheap beef on a skewer while waiting for their next class.  These co-eds make one almost wish the 19th Amendment had a special rider on it that banned despicable pigs from getting the same treatment as the general female population was soon to receive.  I’m pretty sure even Susan B. wouldn’t want these women learnin’.

The men of John Jay are another story, a parade in creative facial hair.  Prince and the artist formerly known as rich and famous AJ McLean would be quite envious of these males’ topiary mug styles.  These gents are paradigms in multitasking.  Booming iPod ear buds loosely hanging from both ears while similtaneously utilizing a not-even-cool-back-in-’05 Bluetooth piece. With such aural inundation, you’d think these men would travel alone.  Nope, in fact, they hang in large circular groups, fronting a guise of friendship and rapport with their classmates when, in fact, no one is talking to anybody else in person as each listens to their music while loudly yakking in their headsets while smoking butts more briskly than Andrew Dice Clay.

I always ponder where all the professors are as I never see any clear-cut adult around the premises nor entering or exiting the academic building.  I assume the profs are brought to and fro the “campus” via reinforced armored vehicle and escorted into the building courtesy of several state troopers.  Then again, I can’t imagine any aloof John Jay student cares about his or her grade enough to threaten a teacher.

Now actual educators may never be seen but a lot of fucking children sure are.  Every day at John Jay is apparently bring-your-toddler-to-class day.  And besides those few students lucky enough to have accidentally stumbled upon correct rhythm method usage, most of the non-parent student variety seem to be “expecting.”  A typical John Jay lecture must easily be confused for Lamaze class.

The school bookstore is right across the street from my pad.  I popped in once to get a new copy of Aurelius’s Meditations as I’d misplaced my previous one and figured a large bookstore at an institute of higher learning would surely have at least one edition of maybe the most significant written work in the history of words.  But, of course, they did not.  However, based on what the bookstore did have in stock, I’m guessing most John Jay class syllabi call for plenty of Tasty Kakes, Cheetos, and copies of JET.  Boy, I’d love to audit one of those classes, but I’m worried that the value of my legitimate tier one university degree would plummet.

In the founding father eponymous standings, Sam Adams got a great microbrewery, John Hancock got the ubiquitous idiom for one’s signature, and John Jay got a safety school of all safety schools chock full of students that make me always dance over to Ninth Avenue when I’m forced to head north.

Luckily, Fall also signals some good things. I’ve already discussed my love for Oktoberfest beers and I love pumpkin ales even more so. Pumking is often regarded as the best of the yearly bunch and this was to be my first time to try it.  Bummed out and feeling a tad self-loathing on a Labor Day Monday night, I needed a bit of a pick-me-up and Southern Tier had just the cure.

I can’t believe how much Pumking smells like fresh pumpkin. I can even taste the crumbly crust. Very complex for a pumpkin beer with tons of spices and subtle little notes.  Like most of Southern Tier’s oddball line of chocolate, coffee, and creme brulee beers to name just a few, Pumpking is of the highest quality.  No artificial flavors and ingredients are used here like in your typical pumpkin beers.

The first glass I had was perhaps a little too warm but the next two were at a perfect cool temperature to enjoy the beauty of Pumking.  Very good, very smooth, and imminently drinkable.  And “paired” with some of the phenomenal new Kraft Mac & Cheese crackers (white cheddar) by evening’s end I was feelin’ fine.  I think I’m going to be drinking this beer a lot this season.  I may even go as Pumking for Halloween.


Vice Blog Reading Group Guide: Questions for Further Discussion:

1. Did you find Aaron’s Pumking entry to reek of racism?  Or perhaps you are the racist one for calling Aaron racist when he didn’t ever mention race once yet purely on the basis of reading his completely matter-of-fact observations you thought of particular races of people, you racist.  But, but, but you say, he did reference JET and Kool cigarettes.  Sure, like only a certain race of people read and smoke those.  If you’re claiming that’s a black thing, then I wouldn’t know, I’m not racist like you.  And neither is Aaron.  Aaron also mentioned Miss Piggy, and as far as I can tell…she’s Asian.

2.  Aaron frequently discusses his love for cigars while bemoaning the nanny state this country is becoming as the pansy-ass government continues impinging on our rights to enjoy so-called vices in public.  Do you think Aaron is a hypocrite for chastising the cancer-stick smoking ninnies that pollute John Jay?  Or do you accept his borderline hypocrisy because cigarette smoking is disgusting while stogy smoking is a totemistic explosion of fragrance and awesomeness?

3. Do you find it amusing that some of the worst high schools and universities are named after some of the most successful men and women of our time, people that these schools’ students could never dream of accomplishing even a quarter as much as?  Would it perhaps be more apt for these schools to be named after, say, a very good manager at the local AMC who figured out a way to consistantly upsell moviegoers from Goobers to Raisinets?