The U.S. beer world has gone Pumpk-Insane. Nearly every brewery that distributes races to get a pumpkin beer on the shelf, resulting in the gourd-based, spice-infused brews appearing in stores as early as late July. Fans of the style are divided between those who see this “seasonal creep” as a bad thing and those who can’t wait to wrap their hand around a pint of their favorite fall treat.
The flavor profiles of these beers range from subtle hints of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg to full-out liquid pumpkin pies. Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter from Redhook Brewery in Seattle falls toward the first extreme.
Pouring a deep brown, like the hide of a chestnut mare, the porter crawls up the side of the glass to leave a very thin layer of foam, which dissipates faster than you can say “Trick or Treat.”
Sticking my nose into the glass to inhale its aroma, I notice … nothing? Perhaps malt?
Then a wave of maple hits, from the syrup that Redhook’s brewers added during fermentation. Still, no pumpkin pie. Those spices are noted upon first sip, but they are not as predominant as many others in this style. The maple blends with a chocolate flavor, undoubtedly from the roasted malt. Then a hint of another spice comes through—ginger.
Hops do not make a cameo, though at only 20 IBU that comes as little surprise.
About halfway through the glass, as the beer’s temperature rises from the winter of refrigerator to the fall of outside, the cinnamon and nutmeg finally step onto the stage. Still, though their performance is noted, they remain bit players.
For the fan of the less-dominant pumpkin flavors, Out of Your Gourd will be worth tracking down. Those who prefer their pumpkin beers to taste as if they came from the dessert table might be disappointed.
As far as which pilfered-from-your-child’s-bag treat to pair this beer with—I recommend a Fun-Size Butterfinger.
Brewery: Redhook Brewery
Style: Pumpkin Porter
Availability: Nationwide through the end of October.