Here at Kovak’s Corner, a primary concern is evolving humankind, which is why the search for the perfect pumpkin beer is an ongoing quest.
The search will continue through Halloween, when the top five and bottom five choices will be revealed. As for the winner, well I’m purchasing a case of it. (So no matter what, I can’t lose!)
It’s proven a daunting task, one which has grown larger than expected. This is why it’s being broken up into at least two parts. To check out the first search, click https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/search-for-the-perfect-pumpkin-beer/. It was originally posted Sept. 5 and randomly added to as beers were sampled. Eleven beers are featured.
On to Part 2.
America’s Original Pumpkin Ale, Buffalo Bill’s Brewery – Came across this ale at my favorite Greensburg eatery – Parkwood Inn – and sampled it on the deck while partaking in a plate of hot sausage tortellini. It’s certainly solid – decent pumpkin flavor, nice mix of spices. It claims to be the original.
Pumpkin Ale, Wolaver’s – Another Parkwood purchase, this beer presented a first for me – gluten free. Full disclosure, the first taste sucked but subsequent drinks proved better. So, this beer grew on me. It’s made with Vermont pumpkins (the company hails from Vermont) , but the guess here is I won’t be supporting the Vermont economy again.
Smashed Pumpkin, Shipyard Brewing Company – Before embarking on this search, Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead ranked as my favorite in the genre, and it may still be, but I’m holding off on revisiting that selection until the end of this search. As for Smashed Pumpkin, it was referred to me by a relative, who happens to be a highly decorated person of the law. The relative went as far as sending three of these, along with three of the next beer on this list. Smashed Pumpkin is a definite contender. Bursting with pumpkin and cinnamon flavor, every sip is a calming and soothing mouthful of greatness. Oh, and it’s 9 percent alcohol, so it packs a little kick. Well done Shipyard, well done.
Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Elysian – Another gifted pumpkin beer, the spices and pumpkin flavor perfectly complement the dark color and incredible texture. The beer doesn’t smell as pleasnt as others, but the taste makes it a legitimate contender. Brewed in Seattle, Night Owl has seven pounds of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds per barrel. Blended with spices, including ever-important all spice, it’s close to perfection.
Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Brewing Co. – The distinct bottle, with the Headless Horseman adorning a jack o’lantern and hoisting a beer, is eye-catching, and led to a purchase several years ago. The taste, just the right blend of cinnamon and pumpkin, continues to bring me back. Full disclosure: This ranked as my favorite long before this search. It may still be. Tough to beat. Another positive, rather than brag about everything Shipyard puts into this special brew “natural flavors” is all it provides.
Pumple Drumkin, cisco brewers – There once was a pumpkin beer from Nantucket … Ok, ok, let’s not go there. But Nantucket is where this canned selection hails and, well, I just couldn’t resist. The main reason? I’m an unabashed supporter of “Wings” – the great 1990s NBC comedy starring Tim Daly and Steven Weber. I’ve been told on more than one occasion I resemble Brian Hackett, the happy-go-lucky pilot played by Weber. I’ve been called a lot worse. As for the beer, it’s a bit hoppy. Not that hops are bad, but it’s tough tasting the pumpkin. Overall, a very good beer.
Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Fat Head’s – Brewed in Ohio, I picked up this dark version of the seasonal treat at Nakama, a sushi/hibachi joint on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Figuring the beer had ties to my favorite sandwich place in Pittsburgh – Nakama’s Carson Street neighbor, Fat Head’s Saloon – and the place of the city’s second-best french fries (The O still rules this genre), it seemed logical to give it a try. The friendly bartender rimmed the glass in cinnamon and sugar (not my favorite thing), which really gave this beer a strong cinnamon smell. As far as aroma goes, Sppoky Tooth is wonderful. It’s texture is rich and dark. The spices, from nutmeg to clove are evident. It has all the ingredients for a perfect pumpkin beer, but something was missing – namely a good taste. Maybe it was the rimmed glass, but this beer was a bummer.
Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Weyerbacher – Brewed in Easton, home of former heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes, this pumpkin ale packs a punch. Maybe it’s the cardamom, which is a subplot to a fantastic episode of Cheers. It’s the bloody mary contest, and Cheers gets ahold of cardamom until Woody sneezes it away because of an allergy. Back to point, this darker outing boasts a wonderful blend of spices and just the right amount of pumpkin flavor. Like a piece of pumpkin pie.