Monday, November 30, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- Recap and Favorites this Season


     The end has come for my Pumpkin Beer Challenge, I think I drank, tasted, and enjoyed at least 18 Pumpkin Beers. I tried some non-Virginia ones that I did not mention because they didn't really compare. I had some favorites that went well beyond the typical Pumpkin Spice Beer though.
I will have to say my favorite this year was Hardywood's Rum Pumpkin. I have never had anything like it, the spiced rum, the pumpkin, the pure enjoyment of drinking it. I will be sure to keep getting bottles of this every season. Running a close second though was Champions Pumpkin IPA with the awesome flavor of the Vietnamese Cinnamon and the bitterness of the hops, I am still talking about this with my friends. There are a couple other ones that stood out as not just your typical pumpkin spice beer, not that I don't like those of course. Blue Mountain's Spooky which is a bourbon barrel un-spiced pumpkin beer is a good staple to have around and I do love a good bourbon barrel beer. Then there was the surprise of C'Ville-ian Brewing's Pumpkin Sour. This one amazed me by the great flavor. Who thought a pumpkin sour could work, C'Ville-ian thought so and they did it right.

   There was not one that I tasted from Virginia that I did not like. I know there are so many more. This season I went with the ones that were mainly available at local beer stores. Next season I am going to try and visit the different breweries and see what everyone has to offer on tap. I still suggest that even if you are not a pumpkin beer fan at least try some of the one's above or go to a brewery and try the one they have there. I guarantee it will be better than most mass produced pumpkin spice beers on the market.

    Next post will be on my mildly adventureous Thanksgiving Holiday. So keep an eye out for that one.  Unitl then Drink Up and Eat Well!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin-Champion Brewing Company


     For my last choice in this battle I have chosen Kicking and Screaming which is a  Pumpkin IPA from Champion Brewing Company in Charlottesville.
    According to Champion this beer is made from "fresh pumpkins from Nelson County, American Hops, Vietnamese Cinnamon, loads of floral hop aroma, complimented by spicy notes and roasted gourd flavor". When I opened the bottle the nose was of a definite pumpkin spice beer. When I drank it though, it was a whole other experience. The flavor of cinnamon and pumpkin flooded my mouth and with the bitterness of the hops it was perfect on the chilly night sitting in the garage, the 8.0% ABV with a moderate 50 IBU's didn't hurt either. It was nothing like I have had before. I had brought it over to a friends to share, but found myself hoarding the bottle and I think they each got a small swig before I finished it off. I have had a lot of pumpkin beers this season and this one shot to the top five on my list. I'm not sure if this even still available. If you can get a hold of this please do.

  I will be doing a final recap of my favorite pumpkin beers next and then I will start moving into the winter variants that are becoming available. I am extremely excited for Hardywood's Gingerbread Stout and Blue Mountain's Blitzen among others, but I will talk about those later.

Be sure to drink up and eat well, oh and stay warm too!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- C'VILLE-IAN Brewing Company

     My latest Pumpkin Challenge contender is from C'ville-ian Brewing Company located in downtown Charlottesville. I had heard that they had a pumpkin sour beer and I was intrigued by the notion. When I arrived early Friday afternoon, the owner Stephen Gibbs was walking back and forth from the bar to the brewery. He stopped and talk to me about the brewery and the beer. Stephen is a military veteran that started brewing in his garage in 2013 and opened the brewery in spring of 2014. He is very passionate about his beer and his military background. That's why his bar is red, walls are white and his ceilings are blue. 

    On the menu was a Farmer's Ale, which he said he decided to call his pumpkin sour, because people get turned off by the sour connotation. He poured me a glass of this mystery sour. I was extremely surprised by the taste. The flavors of fresh pumpkin, coriander,  nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and ginger hit my palate and with a very subtle sour taste. Everything blended perfectly with the sourness.

     I finished this rather quickly and decided to have another. I couldn't get over the taste. Out of all the pumpkin beers I have had so far, this has to be one of the most interesting. It was very refreshing and with a little warmth from the 5.6% ABV, it was perfect for the day we were having. I would suggest stopping by, even if it's just out of mere curiosity to try this beer before he runs out.

    I still have a few pumpkin beers in my fridge to try out and a couple on draft at some local breweries that I would like to get to before I'm done. So keep an eye out for those.

   This weekend I will be taking a break from the beer and going to Centerville to check out the Food Truck Rally. It looks like great event with a lot of great food.

Until next time, drink up and eat well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- Devil's Backbone

    My next selection comes from the ever popular Devil's Backbone. The Pumpkin Hunter Ale is their gift to the pumpkin lover's selection.

    This wonderfully light brown ale is described by their brew master to be a "layered liquid pumpkin pie".  That description is not far from the truth. The Pumpkin Hunter consists of Pilsner, Honey, Special Aromatic, Crystal Wheat, Naked Oats; SPICES: Cinnamon, Ginger, Allspice, Nutmeg.

    Initially I get a really good balanced ale taste, and then I am left with a nice Allspice and Nutmeg flavor.  This is not overly in your face spiced by any means. With only a 5.1% ABV this is one of the few that I think I could have multiple of and not be pumpkined out(I did by the way). If you are a Devil's Backbone fan, I think you could really enjoy this even if you don't like pumpkin beers. It's more of a celebration of fall than an in your face pumpkin beer. It was great for drinking on a Sunday while watching football and eating cheese dip. You don't have to take my word for it though, go out and grab yourself some before it's all gone.

Be sure to drink up and eat well!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- Epic Brewing and DC Brau Collaboration

  My next choice is not from a Virginia Brewery but was suggested to me by a vendor where I pick up some of beer, and it's collaboration between Epic Brewing from Utah and DC Brau from Washington DC, which is close enough to Virginia.
   This Imperial Pumpkin Porter is called Fermentation without Representation. It is part of Epic Brewing's Exponential Series. It is made with Melding Crystal, Chocolate, Munich and Black malts a rich chocolate note plays off hints of burnt raisins and plums. It's also brewed with 600 lbs of pure pumpkin puree, .2 lbs of allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and whole cloves according to the DC Brau website.
     This has a very robust porter flavor. I definitely got the chocolate notes with the flavor of pumpkin. I only tasted real subtle hints of the other spice flavors. I am a huge porter fan, so I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor and the smoothness of this beer. I'm pretty sure this is very limited release since I have not seen this anywhere else and where I got it from he only had one. If you like porters that i suggest you try and get your hands on some of this.

    My next post will be about Devil's Backbone Pumpkin Hunter. This will most likely be my last pumpkin post as the season starts to wind down. I will recap my overall thoughts on the one's that I tried. If you have any suggestions please let me know and I will try and get a hold of some.

Until then, drink up and eat well.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- NOVA Brewfest

  Last weekend I ventured to the fall edition of the NOVA Brewfest, which is sponsored by Mad Fox Brewing  out Falls Church. The brewfest is held twice a year at Bull Run Park in Manassas. It was a chilly and blustery day, but the beer was flowing and it kept you warm enough.

      Since it was the fall NOVA brewfest several breweries brought out their pumpkin beers. I tried three of them.

   First was from Capital City Brewing, it is their Dr. Punkinstein. This a very robust porter with a lot of flavors.  They have added chocolate, honey, crystal malts, oats, pumpkin, butternut squash, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. This is everything I love about fall. Wonderfully flavored, smooth and not too strong at 6.6 ABV%.

    Next was Hardywood's Farm House Pumpkin. This is their Wallonian-style Farmhouse Ale pumpkin beer. They use ripe, flame roasted Virginia sugar pumpkins and brown sugar, freshly ground Ceylon cinnamon, whole Grenada nutmeg, whole Madagascar clove and whole allspice and pounds of freshly sliced organic ginger root. This is much different than their Rum Pumpkin. This has the traditional pumpkin beer flavor but not over powering at all. At 8.5% this another to help you survive Thanksgiving dinner.

    The last pumpkin beer I had was from Tin Cannon. They had their Pun'ktin Ale. They used about 10 pounds of pumpkin for this malty, amber ale. Wonderfully spiced with pumpkin spice and other fall spices. This beer comes in at 7.5% ABV and will go perfect with pumpkin pie and that one aunt that still pinches your cheeks even though you are almost 40. You can only get this at the brewery so I suggest heading there asap and grab a couple pints, and maybe closer to Thanksgiving for a growler if its still available.

   Now I didn't just have pumpkin beers while I was here. I tried several other beers that I have not had before.  Some of the notable beers were Leesburg's Crooked Run's Shadow of Truth, which is a Black Belgian Tripel at 8% ABV and 30 IBU's was perfect for the cool fall day. Next was from Fair Winds out of Lorton. They had their Nautifest which is their Oktoberfest. Delightfully smooth and nicely flavored, with a 5.5% ABV and only 20 IBU's. Lastly was O'Connor Brewing's Great Dismal Black IPA, which is a wonderfully dark, full flavored beer and comes in at 7.5% ABV and 65 IBU's. 

    This was my first time being at the NOVA Brewfest and I had a great time seeing all the different breweries out there braving the cold and wind. Got to meet some new people and talk to some old friends. I heard from some people that the fall one was better than the spring. I don't know if that is true, but I will go next spring and see for myself. As should you.

Battle of the Pumpkin- Hardywood

    Next pumpkin beer we have is from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery out of Richmond. They offer two pumpkin beers. I chose the one from their barrel series, the Rum Pumpkin.

   This pumpkin beer is like no other that I have tasted so far. Hardywood ages this pumpkin beer in Caribbean dark rum barrels(which I am huge fan of when not drinking craft beer). You get a nice familiar pumpkin spice flavor up front and a sweetness from the brown sugar, then a great addition of the spiced dark rum. It has a great kick to it at 10.5% ABV! I think this the perfect beer for those wonderful family Thanksgiving dinners, not only will it taste great with dinner and desert, it will definitely help you sleep along with the food coma. 
     This is in limited release and sells out very quickly. I regret not getting more than one bottle when I purchased it. This is a pumpkin beer you do not want to let slip by. You may just have to take special trip down to Richmond before the holiday and grab yourself some. I might be doing the same thing if I cannot find it at my favorite local beer distributors.

Next up, pumpkin beer NOVA Brewfest edition.

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