Pumpkin ales seem to be quite the controversy these days. Clearly, as breweries release their pumpkin beers earlier and earlier in the fall and even the summer, it is obvious to the consumer that real pumpkin isn’t actually being used. In fact, canned pumpkin is used in many pumpkin beers in order to distribute them during the fall season.
The question is, whose fault is this? This question is close to, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Is it the distributor’s fault for pushing the brewer to make beer early so they can be the first on the shelf and in theory, make more money? Is it the brewer’s fault for caving to those demands? Is it the customer’s fault for being willing to buy pumpkin beers that come out in July? I don’t know the answer and I don’t know if anyone ever will know. What I do know, is that just like I am tired of seeing Christmas decoration in department stores in early October, I am tired of seeing pumpkin beers release in July and August. By the time October rolls around, I don’t even want them anymore.
That being said, I enjoy a good pumpkin beer. I know, hypocritical…as I am consuming them prior to October and taking part in the vicious cycle listed above. But if they release them and the weather is autumny enough, I will drink them. This year I have had Southern Tier’s Pumpking, Ace’s Hard Pumpkin Cider, Hoppin’ Frog’s Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale (that is hard to say and looks weird when written, but accurate), and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I could review them all and maybe will review a different one later as my 365 days continues, but today, I only sampled the Weyerbacher. And I want to talk about the difference a year makes.
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin
Last year, Steve and I did a pumpkin beer challenge. In the past, Weyerbacher had always been at the top of my list, but during that challenge, it fell drastically. In fact, I only gave it a 3 on Untappd, which in my rating system means fine, but I will choose other beers first. Well, they changed the label. Not that that means anything, but it is really cool looking. And it was on tap at our Sunday brunch hang out. Nothing else caught my fancy, or was unique, so I decided to give Weyerbacher another shot. Like I said before, prior to last year, I loved it.
Let me tell you…this year’s is much better than last. The pumpkiny flavor really comes out. It isn’t overly sweet, not like eating a piece of pumpkin pie or a pumpkin cookie. It simply has a true pumpkin flavor, like sticking your spoon in a can of Libby’s. The spiciness isn’t over the top either. I immediately bumped my rating up to a 4. As it warmed, it got a bit boozy. At only 8% ABV, it probably shouldn’t do that. I did enjoy it a little less as it warmed. The booziness covered up the pumpkin flavor. However, it still was good and better than last year, which was pretty flavorless. If you’re doing a pumpkin tasting, you should definitely include this option. It may not be the best, but it will be one of the most clear pumpkin ones.