Autumn Is Approaching

Written by Wenchie. Posted in Beer News

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Autumn Is Approaching

Published on September 01, 2008 with 9 Comments

Welcome to September!

Although the autumn equinox is still 22 days away, the essence of autumn is all around.

For many, the 1st of September starts the changing of the season.

College football is already in full swing. Many kids have started school or are just about ready to go back. The first apples of the season are ripe and ready for picking. In retail stores, summer clothing has been put on the sales rack to make room for fall lines. The amount of daylight is slowly decreasing and, in the northern hemisphere, nights are getting cooler.

For many beer drinkers, this change is most noticeable on the shelves of retail shops and in the taps of bars. Summer ales are dwindling off the shelves. The vacant holes from the summer seasonal beers are being filled by new releases of autumn seasonal beers. Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales are beginning to saturate the beer market.

If you are like me, seeing all the new releases in the stores and bars is very exciting. But, there is something inside me that is preventing me from drinking them at this time. Everything around me screams fall. College football has invaded my television and I have already gone apple picking. The wine harvest is upon us.

Yet, part of me is not ready to give up summer. I want to savor my special summer beers, crisp acidic white wines, margaritas & BBQ cookouts. I am not ready to give up more minutes of daylight.

Alas, autumn will still come and summer will fade away. SIGH.

Ahh, who am I kidding? I absolutely love autumn. I love the bright colors of the changing leaves and the crisp cool breeze that rips them from the trees. Autumn is the season of apples, pumpkin & corn etc. (Mmm corn chowder!)

I love everything apple. Drinking hot apple cider and going apple picking. I love making apple sauce, apple crisp, apple pie, apple cobbler and even just eating plain old raw apples.

And then there is the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pancakes … aww heck. You can put pumpkin in just about every recipe!

What really makes pumpkin “foods” POP is the traditional blend of spices that typically accompanies pumpkin – aka ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice.

For The Wench, though, the crème de la crème of pumpkin creations is PUMPKIN ALE.

The process of brewing Pumpkin Ale varies from brewer to brewer. Some brewers drop hand-cut pumpkins into the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. As with most pumpkin recipes, Pumpkin Ales are typically spiced with some sort of combination of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice.

Pumpkin Ales typically have little hops presence, with very little bitterness. They are mostly characterized by the flavor of the malt, the pumpkin, and the combination and intensity of the spices used.

Although I have not tasted a Pumpkin Ale yet this season, my favorite Pumpkin Ale in the past has been DogFish Head Punkin Ale. As with every other Dogfish Head ale, Punkin is a super-strong extreme beer with weird ingredients. It is definitely an off-centered ale, and absolutely perfect for off-centered people (like myself). I look forward to reviewing this year’s release in the very near future!

A word to the wise, if you see Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – whether or not you are ready to drink it, scoop it up now!!! There is no telling how long the supplies will last and how frequently the shelves will be replenished.

As always, I encourage you all to send me your tasting notes as well as links to interesting articles & blogs!!!


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There are currently 9 Comments on Autumn Is Approaching. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Great post, Wenchie! A lot of what you chat about here are some of favorite things of Fall, too. It’s my favorite time of year when I was growing up in Napa Valley too, with all of the vines, oak trees and maples changing color. Beautiful. Dogfish Head got a great feature in the SF Chronicle Wine Section not too long ago, if you want to check it out! Take care.

  2. Wow, what a great story. As I was reading it I imagined sitting on the patio on a cool autumn evening in a warm sweatshirt enjoying a pumpkin ale and some hot apple pie.

    I shouldn’t read your stuff when I’m hungry!

  3. My birthday lands on the first day of fall, so by far it is my favorite time of year! Last year I tried my first Pumpkin Ale, one whose name I forget but that I bought from Cost Plus.

    Maybe it was because I was not in the right mindset, or that it was just not a good ale, but I was not impressed.

    Though I will have to try your recommendation. Can you get it at chain grocery stores or local liquor stores? Any food pairings I should know about when I do get my hands on it?


  4. My birthday lands on the first day of Fall, so obviously, I am in love with this time of year. It is even better in Northern California (hint, hint).

    As for Pumpkin Ale, I tried it once last year, but maybe because it was an unknown brand from Cost Plus, maybe it was the combination of spices, or maybe because I wasn’t in the right mood for it, it just wasn’t that good to me.

    I look forward to trying your recommendation though. Is it sold at mass grocery stores or local liquor stores? Any good food pairing suggestions for my next attempt at Pumpkin Ale?


  5. Hey Wench…

    Añejo tequilas are perfect with anything pumpkin–that’s what cooked agave smells and tastes like!

    Good choice!



  6. Man, you scared me at first, making us think you weren’t a fan of autumn and then, POW!!! You switch it up on us, full of surprises you are… Autumn is a beautiful time of the year and if you’re in a grape growing region you’ll be lucky enough to see the vineyards transform from greens to reds, purples and yellows; it is quite spectacular. And as always you pepper your posts with images, which I enjoy, and the second one up there is pretty damn cool. I have to admit, I’m not well versed on Pumpkin ales but am going to make it a point this year to try my fair share. Who knows, maybe we can sip on a few pumpkin brews together!!!
    Cheers Wench ;)

  7. Just putting a suggestion out there for another pumpkin ale to keep an eye out for. Pumking by Southern Tier is available now and is excellent. It tastes and smells just like pumpkin pie. They even carry it at a few places here in columbus.

  8. Great post. Makes me want to put on a sweater rake some leaves and go to a football game.

  9. Excellent post. Yeah, it’s still warm and Summery here, but like you mentioned, the shelves reflect the near turning of the seasons. I’ll keep an eye out for the Dogfish Head and grab it if I see it, in the meantime I have some Pumpkin brews from Saranac and Smuttynose to check out!

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