Welcome to September!
Although the autumn equinox is still 22 days away, the essence of autumn is all around.
For many, the 1st of September starts the changing of the season.
College football is already in full swing. Many kids have started school or are just about ready to go back. The first apples of the season are ripe and ready for picking. In retail stores, summer clothing has been put on the sales rack to make room for fall lines. The amount of daylight is slowly decreasing and, in the northern hemisphere, nights are getting cooler.
For many beer drinkers, this change is most noticeable on the shelves of retail shops and in the taps of bars. Summer ales are dwindling off the shelves. The vacant holes from the summer seasonal beers are being filled by new releases of autumn seasonal beers. Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales are beginning to saturate the beer market.
If you are like me, seeing all the new releases in the stores and bars is very exciting. But, there is something inside me that is preventing me from drinking them at this time. Everything around me screams fall. College football has invaded my television and I have already gone apple picking. The wine harvest is upon us.
Yet, part of me is not ready to give up summer. I want to savor my special summer beers, crisp acidic white wines, margaritas & BBQ cookouts. I am not ready to give up more minutes of daylight.
Alas, autumn will still come and summer will fade away. SIGH.
Ahh, who am I kidding? I absolutely love autumn. I love the bright colors of the changing leaves and the crisp cool breeze that rips them from the trees. Autumn is the season of apples, pumpkin & corn etc. (Mmm corn chowder!)
I love everything apple. Drinking hot apple cider and going apple picking. I love making apple sauce, apple crisp, apple pie, apple cobbler and even just eating plain old raw apples.
And then there is the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pancakes … aww heck. You can put pumpkin in just about every recipe!
What really makes pumpkin “foods” POP is the traditional blend of spices that typically accompanies pumpkin – aka ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice.
For The Wench, though, the crème de la crème of pumpkin creations is PUMPKIN ALE.
The process of brewing Pumpkin Ale varies from brewer to brewer. Some brewers drop hand-cut pumpkins into the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. As with most pumpkin recipes, Pumpkin Ales are typically spiced with some sort of combination of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice.
Pumpkin Ales typically have little hops presence, with very little bitterness. They are mostly characterized by the flavor of the malt, the pumpkin, and the combination and intensity of the spices used.
Although I have not tasted a Pumpkin Ale yet this season, my favorite Pumpkin Ale in the past has been DogFish Head Punkin Ale. As with every other Dogfish Head ale, Punkin is a super-strong extreme beer with weird ingredients. It is definitely an off-centered ale, and absolutely perfect for off-centered people (like myself). I look forward to reviewing this year’s release in the very near future!
A word to the wise, if you see Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – whether or not you are ready to drink it, scoop it up now!!! There is no telling how long the supplies will last and how frequently the shelves will be replenished.
As always, I encourage you all to send me your tasting notes as well as links to interesting articles & blogs!!!