As we have entered into Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Spice Latte season, it follows that I have had a few of those beers sent to me by the brewers’ reps for my comment. I’ve added a new beer to my style page on Oktoberfests: Shiner Oktobefest beer. And now I have a pumpkin beer to make note of.
New Holland Brewing Co., of Holland, Michigan, has sent me their annual Ichabod Pumpkin Ale. There are generally two ways that brewers do this kind of beer. One is simply with the spices that go into a pumpkin pie: cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe a little vanilla. The other is to use actual pumpkin in the brew. That’s not a new idea, since in colonial times, native pumpkins were plentiful, while brewing barley was not. Only then, pumpkin was a neutral-tasting source of fermentables. Now, the idea is often to create a “pumpkin pie in a glass.”
The beer from the can offers a nice, foamy orangeish pour. The beer beneath is a deeper orange, almost like, yes, a pumpkin in color. The nose brings in some of those pumpkin pie spice, with the cinnamon and nutmeg in equal proportion. The taste has more of that spice, and then there is a little sweetness that could be coming from cooked pumpkin. But still, it’s the spices that make this beer. Toward the middle of the glass, I start to pick up some citrus, likely from the hop load.
A pumpkin beer is a nice way to transition from hoppy IPAs of the summer, into heartier beers for winter. Look for this kind of beer, of course, to go along with dessert, or as a dessert, and pair with chocolate and spicy snacks.