Having offered up a list of less-controversial fall suds than pumpkin beers – on which everyone in the world seems to have a strong (and wrong) opinion – it seemed only fair that we shine some light on the most divisive brews of autumn, as well. Cambridge Brewing Co., which hosted its sixth annual Great Pumpkin Fest over the weekend with more than 50 beers for a sold-out crowd of beer lovers, provided the perfect opportunity. It’s the one day of the year pumpkin beer lovers can escape the hostility of an anti-pumpkin society, if only briefly, and raise a pint together. Here’s the best of what they drank.
[Photos by Graham Zinger for BDCwire]
Never mind drinking it. You could probably, quite justifiably, drench your pancakes in this stuff. It’s syrupy, but not thick, and sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s the perfect introductory drink for someone just getting acquainted with the style. Whereas lesser pumpkin beers use cinnamon as a crutch, it serves merely as a complement here (and quite well). More prominent is the coffee aroma, which is what I imagine God smells when he brews up a cup of joe in the morning before a hard day’s work of being God. Punkuccino was easily the most repeated answer I got from folks upon asking for their favorite of the day. (5%, Seattle)
Cambridge Stout at the Devil
I promise to avoid using potentially annoying beer buzzwords like “mouthfeel,” which sort of makes me uncomfortable anyway, but I don’t know what else to do here other than to say my mouth felt like I had just, er, danced with the devil after drinking this. This isn’t an indictment either, by the way. A house brew of CBC, this barrel-aged stout pours black as night. It’s brewed, naturally, with 666 pounds of American pale malt, roasted barley, raw buckwheat, malted oats, and the specialty malt Blackprinz. You only need a spoonful to get the point (which is that you’re a wimp), but a pint will put horns on your head. (6.66% Cambridge)
Cambridge Fire and Brimstone
Did I say Stout at the Devil was brutal? Yeah, so about that. This is that Stout, except now it’s cask-conditioned with chipotle and habanero peppers, among other things and it lives up to its name. It was the favorite of festival attendee Rob Hunter, 26, who was dressed as a zombie doctor. “It’s not as hot as you think it’s going to be,” he said, as though I didn’t feel small enough already. “The taste is very subtle.” For my money, it’s about as subtle as an undead doctor drinking pumpkin beer. (6.66% Cambridge)
In taking notes on this one, I typed into my phone “smells like bratwurst.” I meant IPA, but this gives you a sense of where my mind was at in this moment. Autumnation, a wet hop ale, is brewed with pumpkins and Mosaic hops and its citrus flavor called to mind Ithaca’s fantastic Flower Power, if Flower Power had a pumpkin cousin (Ithaca was there, too, with its Country Pumpkin). It checks in with a relatively high ABV, which — while awesome — might be slightly dangerous because they’d be easy enough to session. “<3 thumbs up,” my notes concluded. (6.7%, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Uinta Punk’n Harvest Ale
What’s that you said about a session brew? Uinta’s got you. Melissa Morganstern, 27, was dressed up as one half of a Double Dare team (this picture, people!
) and said her costume was “easy and comfortable.” I mention this because that’s as apt a description I could think of to describe this beer, which she also cited as her favorite. If you’re one to partake in marathon consumption, Punk’n won’t fill you up or knock you out, but it’s most definitely tasty. (4%, Salt Lake City, Utah)
A limited release, Rumpkin was the bad mamma jamma of the day. Aged in rum barrels, its scent fully fills the glass even with just four ounces of liquid and it tastes exactly like it smells (rum). For an ale of such high alcohol content, Rumpkin is a surprisingly easy drink. You don’t need more than a bottle and even at that, you’d do well to split one with a friend and just sip. (18.53%, Boulder, Colo.)