When I sit down to write one of these reviews, it is with the best of intentions that I write solely about the beer. But other thoughts just keep popping up like one of those whack-a-mole games.
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As Robert Burns once wrote, The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley,
Now it’s only in the last couple of years that my palate has accepted fruit beers (along with olives, strong cheeses, and cooked cauliflower). I won’t, anytime soon, be leaping over barbed wire fences to obtain one, but I can nevertheless appreciate a well-made one.
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On a related note, I have nothing against the members of cucurbita pepo. I like roasted acorn squash, sautéed zucchini, and the occasional piece of my own pumpkin cheesecake (to die for, naturally). However, as cooler weather sets in with the coming of autumn, I feel obligated to do at least one seasonal brew and I appreciate the vast number of fine brews created by New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO, which is just an hour away if you drive like my wife. So today’s review focuses on Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale from New Belgium Brewing.
From the brewery-
“What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing.”
Nice, persistent head with lacing. It looks like Grade A honey in the glass. Its sweetly subtle aroma with fruity esters immediately reminded me of a Belgian trippel. After the next few whiffs, as it warmed in the glass (to 46°), I could detect the spice and pumpkin notes. Similar to the aroma, I tasted the subtle fruit first and then the cranberries at the end. Slightly drying and just the tiniest bit of puckering at the finish. A complex layering that I was not expecting and, overall, a well-balanced beer.
These fine folks have made a video with suggested pairing that can be found here-
I like their pairing with a vegetable torte and a turkey pot pie and although I can appreciate their pairing with pumpkin pie, I don’t see that working for typical Thanksgiving meal, which is really the only time we have pumpkin pie. At our Thanksgiving meal, we normally serve a red zinfandel or a pinot noir, but I could see drinking a Pumpkick with our normal fare which consists of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberries. In this way it complements the food, and foreshadows the dessert to come, an element that I had never before considered when suggesting a pairing.
Although I wouldn’t drink this beer by itself, I think it provides a superior match to some select fall foods. Kudos to New Belgium for this seasonal offering. And, as a side note, if all you have tasted from New Belgium is Fat Tire Ale, you need to get out more. Check out their Lips of Faith series or visit their tasting room for a truly knee-weakening experience.
And, to keep you up to date, the bottle of Lost Abbey’s Angel’s Share is still in the refrigerator. http://beeredland.com/2013/08/17/the-beer-i-cant-bring-myself-to-ing-drink/