Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Great NY Pumpkin Race

I was in New York City a couple weeks ago for the Vendy's, but that wasn't the only foodie event in town at the time...It was also Craft Beer Week!!  My timing couldn't have been more perfect.  Prior to my trip I did a little research on local beers, Micro Breweries and Brew Pubs in and around Manhattan, which quickly made me realize that I was going to be completely overwhelmed by the variety.  So, I made a decision...I would have to focus on one type of beer.  And, well...'tis the season for PUMPKIN!!

Over a 4 day trip I managed to try 9 different pumpkin beers.  And there were at least 5 others I couldn't track down.  A far cry from the 2 or 3 that are (maybe) available up here in Ontario.  Now, I'm not going to go into every detail about the flavour and food pairings for each pumpkin beer...I'm not an expert.  But I do know that I love beer and I love pumpkin...and for the most part these beers all rocked!

Basically they can be broken down into 2 types... Let's start with the your basic pumpkin ale.  These beers generally have 5% alc and have a smooth, subtle pumpkin spice flavour.

Blue Moon is based in Denver, CO and and Saranac in New York State.

Although I wish I could have brought all 9 pumpkin beers home, my travel arrangements didn't allow for any hoarding, so I was happy to grab a couple six packs to take home.  They were dispensed of shortly after my arrival back in Canada...

For those cross border shoppers, it appears these are two of the most common pumpkin beers available in stores in upstate New York.

Others I tried include, River Horse Hipp 'O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Lambertville, NJ. And Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale.  Brooklyn, NY

Next stop was New York City's own Heartland Brewery.  I spent an evening at one of their local brew pubs in Manhattan, and not only did this place comfort me with it's similarities to my local favourite, the Mill St. Brew Pub, it also had a selection of 3 options for pumpkin beer!

The Smiling Pumpkin Ale not only has a hilarious logo, but tastes great too. 

They also offer a beer called "Stumpkin"...a mix of the Smiling Pumpkin Ale and their Farmer John's Oatmeal Stout.  Unfortuntely I did not get a chance to try out this medley.  I did however, try their stronger Imperial Pumpkin Ale, which was very similar to the others I will describe below.  But don't order a pint of this beer, because they only serve it in goblets...how fancy!? 

So that brings us to the list strong ales...general 7-9% alc with a very pronounced, sweet pumpkin aroma.  I would compare the flavour of these strong pumpkin ales to a Hefeweizen, with it's distinctive banana and clove notes derived from the specific hefe yeast. 

Southern Tier's label offers a great (and hilarious) description of their potent ale.  Their brewery is located in Lakewood, NY.

And the final 2...

Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale. Akron, OH.

Heavy Seas (Mutiny Fleet) The Great Pumpkin, Imperial Pumpkin Ale.  Halethorpe, MD

So, that's it.  I drank more pumpkin beer in one long weekend than is probably recommended, however it was totally worth it.  Now I'm left to scavenge the local LCBO's for our embarrassing selection of pumpkin ales.