When the leaves turn brown and the chilly breeze rolls in through the hills of South Western PA, it takes on deeper meaning that not only is Autumn season transitioning, but soon I’ll be able to drink up on the many different products that are alternatively flavored with pumpkin spice.
When I’m being sociable in a bar establishment, I usually check to find my favorites. The hunky background in me always sides with the Pilsner beers. I wasn’t much of a variety beer drinker, but it was the Autumn season of 2007 that soon redirected my taste buds to a plentiful palette of specialty and seasonal beers. Here are two of my favorites that I look forward to every year.
This was the first brew that is credited with turning interest to anything pumpkin spice. It was a strange looking concoction that didn’t wedge itself into any beer category. My first experiences worried me if it was even masculine enough to be seen with. Rivertowne’s Pumpkin beer is not quite a lager or ale because of the orange tint to the caramel color. It’s not quite a stout because it’s not a thick dark look. It’s a unique brew that is served out of one of their three nitrous beers which gives it a frothy head like a Guinness.
The first thing that an experienced beer drinker would notice is that it’s served with a cinnamon and brown sugar coated rim like any margarita would. It adds to the flavor making it as sweet as a slice of pie dessert.
The smell is also a very sweet fruity aroma that gives a soothing sensation of fonder memories of hot toddies or warm cider. It does have a grainy appearance.
Since Rivertowne Brewing choose to market their Pumpkin beer in their 3 bar chain properties around the Pittsburgh suburbs in nitrous taps, you can’t take it home with you. It’s a popular beer that’s only growing in demand by all the regulars. I’ve even tried to share it with my family at American Thanksgiving a few years ago, but they’ve consistently reminded me that it will go flat in the matter of hours.
I recommend this beer to anyone who is just starting out to drink customized beers or to any beer swilling veteran just looking for something different.
Three and a half out of 4 stars.
Erie Brewing Company’s Johnny Rails Pumpkin Ale:
Another step in the Pumpkin beer flavored editions comes from the Erie Brewing Company of Erie, PA. Most often, my top beer of choice comes from the growing EBC family of brews so it shouldn’t come as a shock that this Pumpkin Ale will get respectable marks in this post. I’ve already been a big fan by consuming cases of their signature Railbender (a Scottish ale) and the Presque Isle Pilsner.
Unlike the other beer, there is 2 ways you can get to enjoy this (well 3 if you count direct pour in your mouth from the tap). If you’re lucky or if you follow EBC’s social media, you can get notice on where and which bars have it on tap, but for everyone else, you enjoy it straight out of the 12 ounce brown bottle.
The EBC Pumpkin Ale is a heavier and has a crisper bite to it. The pumpkin is more subtle and shows up in the aftertaste. The consistency of the beer doesn’t change from sip to sip. It’s a great taste from the first to the last drop. In the pint glass is where the two drinks get more comparable, where the first beer was sweet and sugary, the Erie beer is a spiced flavor.
The color is a lighter orange with no real grains or other sediment floating around. If the beer is poured from the tap or out from the bottle right, there is very little foamy head to talk about. I’m not a type of guy that thinks that kind of thing is important.
Johnny Rails Pumpkin Ale: A nice smooth ale for the autumn season. It doesn’t stand out and wow you to keep drinking it, but most people who would drink this beer is doing so mostly because they enjoy the brewmasters other flavors.
2.75 out of 4 stars.