Saturday, October 01, 2016

What's Jayme drinking?

I have a confession: I like pumpkin ales. That probably goes along with the fact that I like pumpkin a great deal on its own--pumpkin pie, of course, but stuffed pumpkin, roast pumpkin, pumpkin seeds... I adore squashes in general, and to me, pumpkin is king of the squashes. In fact, when I first started homebrewing 20 years ago now, I got the notion to brew some beer with pumpkin in it. Realize this was before pumpkin-flavored beers flooded the market every October like they do now. It was probably 10 years after that I first saw a commercial pumpkin brew for sale anywhere. I never actually brewed my own pumpkin beer, though. The reason pumpkin beer gets a bad rap, I'm convinced, is the fact that so much of it is, well, shit. There are really, really bad pumpkin beers out there, rushed to market to capitalize on a fad. Finding a good one amidst all the dross just isn't worth the effort most of the time. But I was in the mood today, and decided to take a gamble.

Strange Land Brewery in Austin puts out some interesting brews. I don't always like them, but I appreciate their invention. When I saw "The Headless Gentleman," which purports to be an imperial bourbon pumpkin porter, how could I pass that up? It pours like a deep, dark stout, an opaque brown just this side of black. Well, the part that isn't foamy tan head does. What is it with Strange Land and their insane heads? Their "Old North Road" did the same thing. The head on "Headless" lasted a good five minutes before subsiding enough to pour more, and that was after I stuck my finger in it a couple of times to speed it along. Lacing is more like clinging, with clots of foamy head ringing the mug.

The nose is a little subdued, but along the lines of what you'd expect from a beer this dark--coffee, leather, dark cherries, malt. Mouthfeel is nice and rounded, full but not thick. There's good body here for a porter. Not to be confused with a stout. The taste is bitter dark chocolate with coffee overtones, some vanilla. Bourbon? Yes, I think so, unless I'm projecting that because of the name on the label. There's pumpkin, yes, but it's subdued, more of a tease than anything else. This isn't a sweep beer, and it's not going to be mistaken for a pumpkin pie. It's hoppy--on the high end of bitterness for a porter. Looking at the bottle, is says 41 IBUs, and that seems about right for what I'm tasting. There's a lot going on here, and while the bitterness is off-putting at first, as the beer warms the complexities come out and those hops start making sense. The 8.9 percent alcohol level isn't obvious in the mouth. It doesn't taste "hot."

This is an interesting, complex beer. There's more going on here than with your average porter. It's not something I'd ever drink on a regular basis, but I can see seeking it out on occasion when the mood strikes me. Those who like porters in particular should seek it out. Pumpkin aside, it's a creative interpretation of the style.

Now Playing: Howard Shore The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Chicken Ranch Central

No comments:

Post a Comment