Our Love/Hate Relationship With Pumpkin Beers
Cinnamon. Allspice. Nutmeg. If these words make you think of cool autumn evenings, the changing of leaves, and fresh baked pies, then you're probably a big fan of pumpkin beers. Of course, we don't get much in the way of change for autumn; nothing much more than a slow months-long creep down in temperature into the 70's and maybe 60's, but what we do get to share with the rest of the country is the abundance of seasonal beers.
Generally speaking, the most popular fall beer offerings come in one of two flavors: Oktoberfest and Pumpkin.
Oktoberfest, as a style, is a darker, maltier lager brewed to celebrate festival surrounding the 1811 marriage of Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese of Bavaria. The accompanying festival occurs in Munich for 16 or 17 days in September and October.
On the other hand, there is the ever-popular pumpkin beer: an ale brewed with pumpkins and/or pumpkin pie spices. This sweet and spicy beer has captured the hearts of craft beer drinkers and non-craft drinkers alike. It's probably one of the few styles that almost anyone will partake in... almost.
There is love/hate relationship with pumpkin beers that has been brewing under the skin of beer enthusiasts for some time, and seems to be bubbling up to the surface, at least on Twitter, thanks to the scandalous brothers behind popular beer rating machine BeerAdvocate.
In early September, BA retweeted this unassuming beer joke, which sparked a bit of a controversy in the Twitterverse. (What else is new?)
Pumpkin beer is the modern day equivalent of the mullet. Everybody that brewed one will be ashamed of it in a decade.
— John Bryan (@fancypantsbeer) September 3, 2013
What followed was... well... an ugly mess. Twitter user Mike Wilson summed it up pretty succinctly.
— Mike Wilson (@MikelbcWilson) September 3, 2013
This got me thinking -- is there a great divide among pumpkin drinkers and pumpkin haters? Can there be a beer style that actually causes such a division? I haven't heard of such jokes and derision for IPAs or stouts.
To find out, I did a classic (and very unscientific) poll of people on Facebook. Here's what they had to say about their favorite pumpkin beers:
- "Upslope's Pumpkin Ale. Focuses on the pumpkin and the spices, whereas most pumpkin beers seem more about the traditional pumpkin pie spices. The pumpkins come from a local farm where we get our pumpkins, so that's always a plus. It's a 7.7% and very drinkable."
- "Cigar City Good Gourd!"
- "Shipyard Pumpkin Head. If I'm feeling frisky, I'll dip the rim in honey and then dip that in a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar, then pour the beer in."
- "Shipyard as well. But honestly, anything pumpkin gets me going."
- "Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale"
- "On a shelf. Far away from me."
- "I don't like pumpkin beer. Then someone bribed me into trying a different pumpkin beer at the Lodge, with the honey and cinnamon. It was better, but still pretty terrible."
Well, that seems like a relatively calm mix of emotions. Enjoyment, disdain... I'm sure the same results would come back with questions like 'What's your favorite IPA?'.
As for Twitter, Todd Alstom of BeerAdvocate told BuzzFeed that he "underestimated the passion for pumpkin beer" but that the tweet did what it was supposed to do. "Mission accomplished. Drink a beer. It'll be OK."
Oh, and, of course: "For the record, I dig a good pumpkin beer."
Where do you sit on pumpkin beers? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Or do you just think that everyone needs to shut up and drink some more?
Beer things in your Twitter feed, follow me @DougFairall
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