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    Wednesday, 31 October 2007

    Pumpkin Beers - English Style

    We don't have many pumpkin beers in the UK. Indeed when I wrote this article, I thought that the beer from Badger was the only one. As Craig kindly pointed out Bridge Of Allan make one, and as I've discovered, so too do Leek and Wychwood.

    The offerings from Badger and Wychwood are readily available in one major supermarket or another, so as it's Halloween tonight, I decided to taste them one after the other to contrast.

    My previous experiences of pumpkin beers are few and far between. I have had offerings from Brooklyn and Shipyard from USA, and Uberach from France. The American beers were both very spicy whereas the French offering had more of a vegetable feel and less spicing.

    I started off tonight with Wychwood Pumpking. It appears this was last brewed in 2003 and it is unclear why it has taken this long to be reintroduced. It's dark in colour and has fruity malty flavours and vegetable notes. It is apparently brewed with mace although I certanly didn't pick that out, although there was a little spiciness. It's a reasonable enough beer. Not interesting enough to want to drink with any regularity, but worth trying once a year.

    I followed this up with Badger Pumpkin Ale. This is a new beer on the scene and exclusively available in Tescos at the moment. This is much lighter in colour than the Wychwood, and spices hit you quite openly in the nose. The taste reveals some subtle spicing. It's brewed with cloves but there is a definite cinnamon flavour to it. This is much more like the American beers; it is pretty refreshing and quite interesting, and the spices add an extra dimension. I would definitely drink this again over the Wychwood, and hope Badger reproduce it for future Halloweens. If any of you have had either of these, or any pumpkin beers this year, I would be interested to hear what you thought.

    I suppose it is too much to ask for our better brewers to go down this line next year? Thornbridge Hall Pumpkin Ale would definitely be one to savour.


    The Beer Nut said...

    Well as you know I liked the Pumpking. But, fundamentally, pumpkins don't taste of much and pumpkin beer is dreadful American gimmickry.

    You should be having a traditional Guy Fawkes Ale made from gunpowder and Catholics' entrails.

    Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

    I ended up drinking draught guinness at an irish pub for halloween, seemed like a pretty 'terrifing' beer in the scheme of things.

    Anonymous said...

    Badger exclusive to Tescos, but not in Edinburgh, ive tried two now, and no luck. BAH Craig

    knowitall sometimes said...

    They really should not be calling these beers pumpkin beers rather pumpkin pie beers, since it is the spice mix which does all the talking. But these beers are not just simply marketing, they also come from the gonzo homebrewer roots of American microbrewing. Buffalo Bill's out of CA was one of the first 25 years ago. Bill Owens the photographer
    and now microdistiller made that beer famous. Now some companies like shipyard and AB make their and distribute theirs much more widely.

    Stonch said...

    "pumpkin beer is dreadful American gimmickry"

    Yes. Pretty much everything about Halloween fits the same description. The whole things - pumpkins and all - doesn't interest me at all. Why should British brewers be wasting time on this? It's bizarre - arse about face, as my old man would say.

    maeib said...

    Stonch. I think British brewers are brewing pumpkin beers because they can, and a lot of punters do seek something a little out of the ordinary, so they will sell well enough. As knowitall sometimes points out, pumpkin beers have been around in the US for 25 years so it naturally follows that our brewers would bring out their own versions.