“…as if his soul had been extinguished within his lungs at the very moment the sweet pumpkin gave up its incensed ghost.”
― Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree
As pumpkin beers go, we have covered quite a few. The style started as a simple use of a gourd as an adjunct for flavor and sweetness. These days, pumpkin is paired with coffee, huge pumpkin pie spices, and of course bourbon barrels.
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, a special release from the brewery, attempts to toe the line between the the overly spiced, and the original pumpkin beers that were bland and simple. A simply name, a simple label, and an unaffected approach to an autumn classic. This beer should by all rights fall by the wayside, another pumpkin ale with no gimmick. And yet it stands out, a consistently beloved pumpkin beer, considered a standard barer of the style.
Looking at the bottle, this beer looks like so many 1990’s microbrews, orange in color with a pumpkin, but otherwise quite boring. The beer pours a ruddy orange color, with no visible sediments. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale bubbles up with a short, pallid, tan head, that fades with minimal retention. The aromas off the pour are a bouquet of cinnamon, cloves or ginger and nutmeg, with no notes of hops, and mildly sweet malt elements. The tastes are a joyful blend of pumpkin pie, an almost tang of vestigial gourd and sweet malt finish. The body is creamy with good carbonation. Almost no bitterness shows against the spice and sugars, with a dry, clean finish.
More people care for pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, or pumpkin pie spice Pringles, more than they do for actual pumpkin. The spice mixture is a popular blend without question. Within Schlafly Pumpkin Ale that well liked blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg combines with a grounding of pumpkin flavor and light, dry finish. The seasoning is strong, yet not overwhelming. The beer is quite simply a delicious expression of what has become the standard pumpkin ale style. While not rare, the distribution is limited, making this a special treat for those of us outside Schlafly’s range. The 8% ABV is rather high, and yet well hidden here. This is a rewarding beer, one of the best around for anyone that likes pumpkin pie.