Pumpkin Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow
My favorite beer-drinking time of year is "pumpkin." With that truth comes plenty of side-eyed glances, but it also usually comes with delicious flavor and a rabid hunt for whichever bar, beer store or growler shop still has the dark orange brew available by bottle or tap.
What sucks is that this year it was all sucky, and therefore everybody's tastebuds got all jacked up and thrown out of whack. Take, for example, this Paste Magazine pumpkin beer ranking. And hey, Paste represents Atlanta, so I love them. But there are some numbers on this board that are so ridiculous that you remember that whoever wrote it gets drunk off pumpkin beer, if you will. So I wanted to share some trill thoughts on the subject.
With all due respect to my man Josh Jackson, who I don't actually know but always blamed for turning James Van Der Beek into a cuckold (same guy, right?), the first problem with this list is that the bottom 15 includes some that are actually good, like Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin and (WTF?!) Southern Tier Pumking. I don't care what your beer-drinking credentials are, there's no way Pumking should be down there next to Shock Top. Shock Top. Let that marinate, like poop in warm pumpkin beer, because that's basically what you're drinking. Notice it's not linked.
Among the other no-link-given, gas-station-level p'kins (the similarly booty cheek-y Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Anderson Valley's Fall Hornin', which has no excuse because their Summer Solstice is awesome), they've ranked Shipyard's shitty Pumpkinhead not far from it's way better/sweeter/stronger Smashed Pumkin, and insulted Lakefront's Pumkin Lager probably just because the label looks like something those teens in early Friday the 13th films drank before getting slaughtered with machetes.
Perhaps most shilly is that Sam Adams has two beers in the top 10. Now, I'll admit that Fat Jack pleasantly surprised me (and pretty much makes Pacey or Josh or whoever a hypocrite for shunning Southern Tier) with it's bittersweet nutmeg/cinnamon/gingerbread-y taste and high ABV. But the regular Harvest Pumpkin is the same damn thing almost, just not as good, and therefore more like a Sam Adams.
Bottom line, this list saved itself at the end, with the final two picks. Dogfish Head Punkin' is just great, and is always quickly sold out every year. Stupidly, distributors in Georgia like to send it to the State about a month early, and it's usually gone by mid-September. This year they fell behind, and a lot of places didn't get it until it's normally sold out, so you can still find it all over metro ATL. But it seems like everyone agrees that the champ is Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin.
Unlike Dogfish Head, WIP does a delicate dance of balance, sort of like a boozy, pumpkin-fat ballerina, who's tiptoeing across your tongue but getting heavier with each step. And you don't mind, because damn this fat lady can dance. She's just so damn smoooooth! You start hearing R. Kelly's " Step in the Name of Love," or something less weird, and you just go with it. You sip, you sip again, and you finally start sliding over into your seat, feeling like it's finally fall. And that's a fine feeling.
If pumpkin beer is not your think, you're in luck, because the season really only lasts about two months if you care about quality. By December it'll be gone and anybody still talking about it deserves to get slapped with an actual pumpkin. But if you like it, go out and cop some. Take my advice: Sam Adam's Fat Jack, Lakefront's Pumpkin Lager, Southern Tier's Pumking, Dogfish Head's Punkin', and Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin are the best, and none of them will do you wrong if you can't find them all and have to get all choosey.
You might only have a couple more weeks, oh my good people. Drink now, and don't stop until you're fat, orange, and glowing in the night.
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