Whether considered the neatest trend since extreme beers, or an abomination in a beer mug, one thing rings true – pumpkin beer is hogging more shelf space and beer taps this season.
Pumpkin beer merges two beer trends – seasonal brew releases and the use of oddball ingredients. Mango Weizen or Coconut Curry Hefeweizen, anyone? Pumpkin seems almost boring in comparison. Pumpkin beers can come in a wide range of flavors – from dark pumpkin-steeped brews to lighter concoctions dosed with pumpkin pie spices. It’s fall in a bottle.
Barry Watson, owner of Tacoma’s Pint Defiance bottle shop and taproom with wife Renee, has dozens he’s rotating through his store. He wrote in an email, “I have been sampling my way through our pumpkin selection this year. My conclusion is that pumpkin beer is no passing trend. Brewers have really seemed to have upped their game this year and have crafted some truly complex and delicious brews.”
Tiffany Adamowski, who co-owns Federal Way’s 99 Bottles with husband Craig, had this to say, “Pumpkin’s not just for pies, it’s for beer. I love this season. Pumpkin beers are all about allspice, cloves and nutmeg — spices that make me think: ‘Autumn!’ My favorite pumpkin beers are ones reminiscent of pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, or are dark and luxurious. Dark? Yes! Pumpkin adds body to stouts and porters making the dark chocolate and roasty coffee flavors coat the tongue, with accents of the fall spicing.”
Her advice – buy this week. Pumpkin beers will start disappearing from the shelf soon as locals stock up, she’s already sold out of many she had at the end of September. “Keep bottles cool and dark; growlers should be kept refrigerated,” she advised.
Local brewers are showing off their fall pumpkin brews, too.
Eric Akeson of Puyallup River Brewing started a few years ago with a single pumpkin brew – Jack O’Lahar, a harvest spice ale, but he has since added four more to his pumpkin arsenal: Black Pumpkin Saison, a Farmhouse style dark ale; Chocolate Vanilla Pumpkin Milk Stout, flavored with cocoa nibs, pumpkins and vanilla beans; Gourdy Wow!, a spiced pumpkin “Saison Regal” and Akeson’s Imperial Pumpkin Cream Ale, which he’ll release for his Halloween celebration in late October.
Akeson will rotate the beers through his taps at his downtown Puyallup taproom, along with an assortment of about 10 other beers.
At Wingman Brewers in Tacoma, Head Brewer Ken Thoburn announced a lineup of three pumpkin brews – Pumpkin Stratofortress, Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Wingman Harvest Ale. The Dome District brewery will have a release party for the beers Oct. 19.
Could yam beers be the next fall thing? Adamowski has seen one this season – The Bruery Autumn Maple. Said Adamowski, “Tastes like the marshmallow – brown sugar – baked yam dishes that you serve at Thanksgiving.”
PUMPKIN BEER EVENTS:
Oct. 19: 6 p.m., Wingman Brewers, 509 ½ Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253-256-5240, wingmanbrewers.com. Drink pumpkin beers from Wingman and other brewers. On tap will be Wingman brews Pumpkin Stratofortress, Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Wingman Harvest Ale. Special guest taps include: Dogfish Head Punkin’ and Alpine Oktoberfest.
Oct. 26: 2-6 p.m., Pint Defiance, 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253-302-4240, pintdefiance.com. The second ice cream social will feature pumpkin beers with pumpkin spiced ice cream. Also at Pint Defiance, on Oct. 30, the store will have a Halloween kickoff with pumpkin beers and party favors.
BUY PUMPKIN BEERS:
Bottle shops and taprooms with pumpkin beers on tap or in bottle (and a few pumpkin ciders, too). The list changes frequently, so call before you stop in to see what’s in stock.
99 Bottles, 35002 Pacific Highway S., Federal Way, 253-838-2558, 99bottles.net
Gravity Beer, 1001 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, 360-352-5107, gravitybeermarket.com
NW Caps N Taps, 20840 State route 410, Bonney Lake, 253-447-8027, nwcapsntaps.com
Pint Defiance, 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253-302-4240, pintdefiance.com
Puyallup River Alehouse, 120 S. Meridian, Puyallup, 253-268-0955, puyallupriverbrewing.com
Red Hot Tavern, 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-779-0229, redhottacoma.com
99 Bottles: 21st Amendment / Elysian “He Said” Baltic-style Porter with Pumpkin & Spices; 21st Amendment / Elysian “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel with Pumpkin & Spices; Alaskan Pumpkin Porter; Anderson Valley Fall Hornin Pumpkin Ale; Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale; Doc’s Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider; Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale; EPIC Ales Pumpkin Pie Gose; Howe Sound Pumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale; Justice Belgo Pumpkin Ale; Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale; McAuslan St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale; Midnight Sun TREAT Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter; Pike Harlot’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale; Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale; Seattle Cider Pumpkin Spice; Shipyard Pugsley’s Smashed Pumpkin Imperial Ale; Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale; Shock-Top Pumpkin Wheat; Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale; Tieton Smoked Pumpkin Cider; Timmermans Pumpkin Lambic; Two Beers Pumpkin Spice; Uinta Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale; Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider
Gravity Beer: Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale, Midnight Sun TREAT Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Doc’a Pumpkin Cider; Southern Tier Pumking; Dogfish Head Punkin Ale; Pike Brewing Harlots Harvest; Epic Brewing Imperial Pumpkin Porter; Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin; Alaskan Pumpkin Porter; Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale; Elysian Night Owl; Elysian Dark of the Moon; Elysian Great Pumpkin; Redhook Out of your Gourd; New Belgium Pumkick; Shipyard Pumpkin Head; Two Beers Pumpkin Spice; Southhampton Pumpkin Ale; Howe Sound Pumpkin Eater. For ciders, there’s Ace Pumpkin Cider; Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider
NW Caps N Taps: Redhook Pumpkin Porter; Epic Imperial Pumpkin Porter; Pike Harlot’s Harvest Pumpkin; Elysian The Great Pumpkin; Elysian Dark O’ Moon; Elysian Night Owl; Two Beers Pumpkin Spice; St. Ambroise Pumpkin; Anderson Valley Fall Hornin Pumpkin; Alaskan Pumpkin Porter; Dog Fish Head Pumpkin. On draft: Elysian The Great Pumpkin; Elysian Dark O Moon and Anderson Valley Fall Hornin Pumpkin. For cider – Woodchuck Pumpkin and Ace Pumpkin.
Pint Defiance: Pike Brewing Harlot’s Harvest; Elysian Night Owl, Great Pumpkin Imperial, Dark O’ The Moon Stout, & Pumpkin Patch Gift Boxes; Ship Yard Pumpkin Head; Southern Tier Pumpking;; Dogfish Head Punk’in; Two Beers Pumpkin Spice; Epic Ales Fermentation Without Representation Imperial Pumpkin Porter; Timmermans Pumpkin Lambic (Sour); Howe Sound Pumpkin Eater; Anderson Valley Fall Hornin’. Pint Defiance also has pumpkin ciders – Ace Pumpkin, Seattle Cider Co. Pumpkin Spice Cider and Doc’s Pumpkin Cider.
Puyallup River Alehouse: Puyallup River brews Jack O’Lahar Pumpkin Ale; Black Pumpkin Saison; Chocolate Vanilla Pumpkin Milk Stout; Gourdy Wow! and Imperial Pumpkin Cream Ale. From other breweries: Anderson Valley Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale; Redhook Pumpkin Porter; Southern Tier Pumking; Elysian Hansel & Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner; Elysian Night Owl; Southampton Pumpkin Ale; New Belgium Pumpkick; Ace Pumpkin Cider; Howe Sound Pumpkin Eater Imperial Pumpkin Ale; Oakshire Pumpkin Ale
Red Hot: 21st Amendment/Elysian Brewing Collaboration He Said Pumpkin Triple; 21st Amendment/Elysian Brewing Collaboration He Said Pumpkin Baltic Porter; Elysian Brewing Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout; Seattle Cider Co. Pumpkin Cider; Midnight Sun Brewing TREAT Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter; Oakshire Big Black Jack Imperial Pumpkin Porter