Maybe it was the garlic that I had just finished chopping, or the parsley in the delicious quinoa salad my wife had just made, but my first whiff of New Belgium’s Pumpkick was an instant flash forward to the fourth Thursday in November. This feels a little early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, but who am I to argue with one of my favorite Colorado breweries? This is the first Pumpkin beer on the shelf at the local Trader Joe's, so maybe they're just getting a jump on the competition.
It's Fall, and this year, that means it's time to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon with some pumpkin infused beer tastings. As time goes on, I hope to add to this list, but let's begin with two solid brews: Mendocino's Engine 45 Pumpkin Ale and Anderson Valley's Engine 45 Pumpkin Ale. Both are solidly pumpkin and have a similar lineup of the usual suspects when it comes to spices: Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. The main difference between these two is body and coloring. Fall Hornin is much darker and a little heavier, while Engine 45 is on the lighter side.
Mendocino Brewing Company Engine 45 Pumpkin Ale Nose: Nutmeg, pumpkin and cinnamon over a buttery nose. Taste: Just like it smells, but the emphasis is on the nutmeg. Fairly well balanced, this beer makes me crave a pumpkin pie. Still, it's easy to see why pumpkin flavored drinks are only popular for a season.
Anderson Valley Fall Hornin Nose: Nutmeg, sour ale nose. Taste: Darker, sour, caramel, with more pumpkin and more nutmeg than Engine 45. I find this one to be a little more balanced as well.
About the Breweries Both breweries are located in Northern California. Mendocino Brewing Company was founded in 1983 in Mendocino County California. They are easily recognizable for their use of birds of prey on their labels (Engine 45 would be an exception). They distribute from coast to coast, also brewing at the Old Saratoga brewery in New York state.
Valley Brewing Company has been in existence since 1987, and with Mendocino, was one of the first 20 craft breweries in the country. Today, they are known for their high quality brews, including their Barl series of bourbon aged beers created in partnership with Wild Turkey Bourbon.
Give both of these beers a shot, and then let us know: What do you think? Should these breweries bring them back next year, or abandon the whole "pumpkin beer" project altogether? Or do you have a pumpkin beeer that you can't stop raving about? Review it below, so we can give it a try as well.