As cool weather approaches and we start to crave warmer foods and drinks, our taste for beer transitions, too.
This is the time for beer with less hoppy character and a little more malt sweetness to reflect the cooling temperature, said Andrew Johnson, co-owner of Columbia’s Craft and Draft
“Now that the fall season’s here, ambers and brown ales are popular, along with the Oktoberfest. But then there are pumpkin beers. Pumpkin spice is really popular in all aspects, whether it’s cereal or with your coffee lovers, but it’s in beer too. It’s been that way for a while, but just here lately, I think it’s hitting the pumpkin spice trend.”
Here are five beers Johnson says are “squashing” it right now.
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Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale: “Most of your pumpkin beers use pumpkin to a varying degree,” Johnson said. “Fall Hornin’ from Anderson Valley uses pumpkin. What it does is it gives it an even more malty sweet backbone so that those spices can bounce off of it. There’s no hop character to it; there’s no bitterness, really. It’s very popular. I also think the can helps, because it looks like a little pumpkin.” $1.99 a can (12 oz.)
Southern Tater: “The Southern Tater by Benford Brewing is a sweet potato ale,” Johnson said. “Similar to a pumpkin beer, they’re actually going to be in the same category: yam beers. Sweet potato and pumpkin beers have similar characteristics. They’re both medium in body. This one has a little bit of a sweeter, malty character but not as much spice. This is what I recommend for our customers that want a fall beer that don’t really like pumpkin spice.” $1.66 a can (12 oz.)
Bell’s Best Brown Ale: “Bell’s Best Brown Ale from Bell’s Brewing is not a pumpkin beer – it’s just a traditional American-style brown ale,” Johnson said. “It’s got a slight hop character on the end, but mostly malty and sweet and perfect. It’s appropriately named; it’s one of my favorite go-to fall beers.” $1.99 a can (16 oz.)
Southern Tier’s Warlock: “Southern Tier’s Warlock is a pumpkin stout,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the most popular pumpkin beers. When it lands, it’s usually gone pretty soon. It’s the stout version of the Southern Tier Pumking, another favorite.” $4.99 a bottle (12 oz.)
Southern Tier’s Pumking Beer: “Pumking is a pumpkin ale,” Johnson said. “It’s a medium-bodied amber ale brewed with fall spices and pumpkin. It has a very strong nutmeg flavor and a hint of cinnamon and orange peel. The pumpkin flavor is sweet and slight, with the spices doing the majority of the talking.” $3.99 a bottle (12 oz.)
How to drink pumpkin beer
From Andrew Johnson, co-owner of Craft and Draft:
“You don’t want a pumpkin beer to be ice cold because there are a lot of flavors that don’t come out until it’s warmer,” he said. “Your nose, your palate just can’t pick it up. I would pour it and go drink something else and come back to it so that it’s fairly warm. By the time you get to the last sip, it’s almost room temperature. That may sound a little odd, but you’ll pick up a lot of different flavors as it heats up.”