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Dave Patterson

Dave Patterson is a writer and musician who is thirsty for craft beer. He's been immersed in the New England beer scene for years as a patron and since 2013 as a beer writer. In his attempt to drink all the great beer America has to offer, Dave has become convinced that the Maine beer scene is among the best in the country. He can be spotted throughout the state at breweries, bars, and backyards imbibing brilliant Maine beers. It is his belief that craft beer plays an integral role in bolstering a vibrant local economy, so he urges you do your part by drinking local beer to support your community. Twitter: @PattersonWriter​

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Posted: October 6, 2015

Dave’s top 5 pumpkin beers available in Maine (he tried a bunch so you don’t have to)

Written by: Dave Patterson

pumpkinbeers As a beer writer in New England, every fall I face the same question: What do you think of pumpkin beer?

I usually give a curmudgeonly answer, saying, “I like my beer to taste like beer.”

But this autumn, as the foliage turns gold and red, it occurs to me that it’s been years since I’ve had a pumpkin beer. My stock answer on this matter, even to me, is starting to feel a little trite.

It’s time I reckon with the pumpkin brews that appear on store shelves around August and stick around well past Halloween. This week I picked up a slew of pumpkin beers available to Mainers and, with my beer colleague Tim, worked through these fall mainstays.

Our top five pumpkin beers:

5. IMPERIAL PUMPKIN ALE, WEYERBACHER BREWING COMPANY

This pumpkin ale tastes like a boozy pumpkin pie. The pumpkin flavor plays nicely with the cinnamon and nutmeg spices. At 8 percent alcohol by volume, however, the alcohol flavor plays the lead role in this beer. If you’re looking for a big pumpkin beer, this is the one for you.

Imperial Pumpkin Ale | Weyerbacher Brewing Company
STYLE: Pumpkin Ale
TASTING NOTES: Big pumpkin pie spice with an alcohol bite
ABV: 8.0 percent
AVAILABILITY: Sold in most beverage stores

4. PUMKING, SOUTHERN TIER BREWING COMPANY

This take on a pumpkin ale is akin to eating a pumpkin cupcake with plenty of frosting dolloped on top. The aroma coming off Pumking is wildly evocative – there’s cinnamon and nutmeg and sweet pumpkin and candy corn. This beer is 8.6 percent alcohol by volume, but it doesn’t taste it. Imbibe with care.

Pumking | Southern Tier Brewing Company
STYLE: Pumpkin Ale
TASTING NOTES: Sweet candy pumpkin flavor
ABV: 8.6 percent
AVAILABILITY: Sold in most beverage stores

3. SMASHED PUMPKIN, SHIPYARD BREWING COMPANY

Smashed Pumpkin is Pumpkinhead’s mightier, more menacing older brother. The aroma is a strong perfume of nutmeg, pumpkin and alcohol. This Portland brewed beer drinks like a dessert wine and would be the perfect digestif to a big harvest feast. If you want your pumpkin beer brewed locally, Smashed Pumpkin is your huckleberry.

Smashed Pumpkin | Shipyard Brewing Company
STYLE: Pumpkin Ale
TASTING NOTES: Big perfume notes of nutmeg and pumpkin
ABV: 9.0 percent
AVAILABILITY: Sold in most beverage stores and grocery stores

2. PUNKIN ALE, DOGFISH HEAD BREWING COMPANY

This brown ale from the legendary Dogfish Head Brewing tastes, first and foremost, like a beer. Which is a big compliment. The pumpkin flavors appear in the aroma and finish along with brown sugar, all spice, nutmeg and cinnamon. The flavors are well balanced, and best of all, the pumpkin flavor here tastes like fresh pumpkin, not synthetic pumpkin flavoring like some pumpkin ales.

Punkin Ale | Dogfish Head Brewing Company
STYLE: Brown Ale made with Pumpkin
TASTING NOTES: Notes of brown sugar, all spice, nutmeg and cinnamon
ABV: 7.0 percent
AVAILABILITY: Sold in most beverage stores

1. PUMPKIN ALE, SMUTTYNOSE BREWING COMPANY

The Pumpkin Ale from Smuttynose Brewing has, by far, the least sexy name and label of all the pumpkin beers we tried. It was, nevertheless, the best beer of the lot. Pumpkin Ale has an orange, copper appearance. The aroma is a balanced interplay between ale malt, pumpkin pie spices and fresh pumpkin pulp. The flavor is subtle – the pumpkin and spices don’t mute the ale flavor of this beer. The finish is clean and crisp, leaving a nuanced pumpkin pie coating on your tongue.

Pumpkin Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Company
STYLE: Pumpkin Ale
TASTING NOTES: Beer malts, pumpkin pie spices, and fresh pumpkin pulp
ABV: 6.5 percent
AVAILABILITY: Sold in most beverage stores

If like me you’ve been avoiding pumpkin beers or you’re simply looking for a new pumpkin brew to whet your fall whistle, pick up one of these beers. Take a moment this fall to embrace the old New England brewing tradition of beer made with the voluptuous orange winter squash that has come to symbolize the fall season.

OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS

Gneiss Brewing Company 2nd Anniversary Party
11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 94 Patterson Road, Limerick. $8.
If you read my piece on Gneiss Brewing Company last month, then you know this brewery has carved out a beer sanctuary for itself in Limerick. There 2nd Anniversary Party on Saturday will take their Zen beer drinking experience to the next level. For the party they’ve brewed Flowstone, a beer brewed with a blend of lager and Brettanomyces yeasts and hopped with Azacca hops. Yes, please. Expect music, corn hole and pigs rolling in the mud. Ticket price gets you a limited edition 2nd Anniversary glass.

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