Plumping for Pumpkin (Beer)

It’s that time of the year again, and the first pumpkin beer I’ve seen locally is Great Lakes’ – fortunately, as it’s one of the best anywhere.

First, may I decry the now-ritual blasé deprecation (by too many) of the annual pumpkin beer phenom?

Pumpkin beer is a genuine innovation of the craft brewing renaissance albeit it can claim roots in 17th century colonial brewing. In those days they made beer of pumpkin, persimmon, something borrowed and something blue.

You can be sure in the periwig days precious barley malt was eked out with the fleshy gourd sometimes. I’d guess some of that Virginia pumpkin beere and the New England ones tasted like some of today.

Whether yes or no, the advent of modern pumpkin beer via the specific method of California craft pioneer Buffalo” Bill Owens launched a permanent revolution. Rightly so, as when well-made it’s a great taste.

One of the verities of the beer world is, if something is successful, before long some droll-meister will put it down as old hat and soon the chorus swells. Whether it’s old school craft, imports once exotic but now familiar, or great beers made by megabrewers, the cynicism sets in fast.

I pay no mind to it. If it’s good, it should be praised and supported. If not-so-good, then say so and move on.

Great Lakes’ pumpkin beer hits all the right bases: the spices are evident but not a sledgehammer; the natural pumpkin flavour is there; and the hops are prominent, which you want as without evident hop support most beers will fail, pumpkin no less.

I do like other ways with pumpkin beer too, especially a well-made pumpkin porter. And some strong pumpkin ale with a malty quality can be just the thing as the hoar-frost starts to gather.

Pump it up we say, until you can feel it, and don’t mind the naysayers.