Smashing Pumpkins: My Problem with Pumpkin Beers

Smashing Pumpkins: My Problem with Pumpkin Beers (Pumpkin Down photo by @brewstills)

Last week’s Lagunitas and Saint Archer acquisitions stole the thunder away from craft beer’s most recent trollfest — pumpkin beer. One side of the craft beer internetdom loved them some pumpkin, and the other side incessantly griped about it. All the while the pumpkin lovers assumed it had everything to do with taste, but maybe there was more to it than that…

Years ago, pumpkin was a beer style I never even wanted to try. But after my lovely wife (and co-blogger) explained pumpkin beers were more like a spiced ale, than actual un-filtered orange pulpy chunks, I broadened my horizons.

Today you could still put me in the anti-pumpkin camp, but before you get all agitated, at least let me explain why. I have 3 simple reasons, and they have nothing to do with pumpkin ale flavors, which I have actually grown to enjoy:

  1. Weather.

    We live in San Diego, and when the breweries are releasing pumpkin ales in late August to early September, that’s our warmest – no, hottest weather. Yes, America’s Finest City has an average yearly temp of 73°, but not in these months. August and September are sweltering, and there is no way I want to drink a spiced ale, porter, or stout in 90°+ heat, and I won’t apologize for it.

  2. Other Flavors.

    The fall also brings other styles of beer to the party. There’s dark lagers to help us Americans celebrate the German Oktoberfest festival, but more importantly is the arrival of fresh hop/wet hop season. I love hoppy ales, and the flavors only intensify with ripe, dank, resiny, freshly picked humulus lupulus. Put a fresh hop ale in front of me, and 10 times out of 10 I will choose it over a pumpkin ale. Please, and thank you.

  3. Retail.

    This is the most annoying reason. Breweries have become just as bad as retail stores when it comes to rolling out their seasonal / holiday releases. Halloween (followed by Thanksgiving feasts) are not celebrated until the very last week of October, yet in late August the pumpkin ales start to pop their heads up out of the patch. Guess what guys — that’s too soon! I realize that breweries are in business to make a profit, but I cannot get into drinking a seasonal ale unless it’s the season for it. No pumpkins in summer, and sell me winter ales when our Christmas tree is up, not before Halloween starts.

So there you have it, that’s what I “hate” about pumpkin ales, even though I don’t truly despise them. I will climb over to the other side of the fence to enjoy some pumpkin beers in a few more weeks.

Hopefully with cooler weather, when the calendar says October on it. You know, just in time for all the breweries to release their “holiday” beers…

Pumpkin Down photo by: @brewstills

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