In honor of Cleveland Beer Week, the autumn season, and my love of pumpkin, I present to you the beginning half of my reviews of pumpkin ale. There are still some out there I have yet to try, but seeing as it is Cleveland Beer Week, I figured to blog about the ones I have enjoyed so far. On a side note, for events related to Cleveland Beer Week, check out http://www.clevelandbeerweek.org. If you have found these pumpkin ales at other locations please comment. I can only speak for where I have been and have seen them. I do not want to give false information. So now in no particular order, part one of the Hungry in Cleveland pumpkin beer review.
*Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale (enjoyed at the Winking Lizard Tavern, Lakewood. Available on tap at Winking Lizard and Melt Bar and Grilled Also sold in 4-packs at Giant Eagle, and various other locations): This was my first pumpkin ale of the season, and a perfect start. This was Winking Lizard's September Glass of the Month so I also ended up with a souvenir. The glass was rimmed with brown sugar and cinnamon which added to the strong, yet not overpowering pumpkin flavor. Very easy to drink and on the sweeter side of pumpkin ales. Highly recommended, especially if you are new to pumpkin ales. Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.0%
*Southern Tier Pumking Imperial (sold by the bottle at Little Italy Wines, Giant Eagle in Legacy Village, Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Tremont. Also on tap at Melt Bar and Grilled): So far, this one has been my favorite. I enjoyed this as the perfect kickoff beer to the Browns/Bengals tailgate I was at on October 3. This beer is like pumpkin pie in a glass. It is a heavier beer and quite strong (9.0% ABV). In my opinion, it has the perfect balance of pumpkin and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc). If you are looking for a perfect kickoff to a tailgate, football party, or Halloween celebration, I recommend Southern Tier Pumpking.
*Shipyard Brewing Company Pumpkinhead (enjoyed at Lincoln Park Pub. Also available at Melt Bar and Grilled): Probably the lightest I have enjoyed to date, but still a notable pumpkin flavor. Paired well with my tacos on Taco Tuesdays at Lincoln Park Pub (Tacos $2.50 each). Would recommend if you order a heavier sandwich at Melt and want a good pumpkin ale to drink. Very satisfying on taste and drinkability (sorry Bud Light for stealing your word). ABV: 5.1%
*Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale (enjoyed at Melt Bar and Grilled. Limited availability at Winking Lizard beginning October 25): In this review, I must say pumpkin ales at Melt hold a very special place in my heart after a very memorable third date in September 2009. Very fitting that a pumpkin ale was enjoyed at Melt in October 2010 with the same person. I guess what I am saying is the true way to a girl's heart is pumpkin ale and a huge sandwich. Also, just nothing that she loves pumpkin and incorporating it into an early date...but I will digress from memory lane and talk beer now. Drinks very similar to Dogfish Head and Shipyard. Again, a good pronounced pumpkin flavor and did not fill me up prior to enjoying my sandwich (The Smoky Russian). ABV: 5%.
*Buffalo Bill's America's Original Pumpkin Ale (enjoyed at Lincoln Park Pub, and available at most Giant Eagles in a 6 pack): A classic fall 6 pack. I would not go as far to say this is pumpkin pie in a glass, but there is a good balance of spice and pumpkin. No Halloween party is complete without it. ABV: 5.2%
*Harvest Moon by Blue Moon (available most places where beer is sold): Considering I enjoy most Blue Moon beers, this is not one of my favorite pumpkin ales. It is good, however I prefer a stronger pumpkin flavor. I enjoy it and have no problem buying it, unless there are other options such as those mentioned above. As far as Blue Moon goes, I will stick with the original with an orange. ABV: 5.7%
*Smuttynose Brewing Company Pumpkin Ale (Enjoyed at Reddstone): Wait...I thought I ordered pumpkin ale. The only thing that indicated this was a pumpkin ale, was the label. Very hoppy and no pumpkin or spice. Unless I just had a bad bottle, I do NOT recommend this one. ABV: 5.6%
By mid-Noveber, I hope to have Part 2 finished. I am eagerly awaiting Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale (only available on tap at the Brewpub on Market Street off W. 25th). I also discovered a few others on the menu at Melt that I must try. Overall, for a variety of pumpkin ales, I would recommend Melt. They have three different pumpkin ales on tap and at least 5 bottled varieties. On October 23rd, in celebration of Cleveland Beer Week and Halloween, Wonder Bar on East 4th will be holding a Pumpkin Party.
Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.