It’s week three of my attempt to write about pumpkin beer for the whole month. I thought I could get there. The Halloween spirit was willing but the pumpkin flesh is weak. I’m just… “gourd” to death, I guess.
I’m not the only one. With these Autumn ales being released as early as late July, people’s palates simply get tired of pumpkin. This is a shame as October and November should be the target months for such beer.
Much like the recent hard root beer trend, pumpkin beer sales took off like a Patriot missile but have since sputtered out like a roadside stand bottle rocket. The way around such burn-out is to cellar your package purchases until such time as you deem fit. Unfortunately, my company deals primarily with draft beer and space constraints prohibit such keg stockpiling.
Here’s a brewery that feels our pain, has empathy for our pumpkin plight. What do you do when you wish to craft an “anti-pumpkin pie” beer? Shoot for another iconic savory/sweet baked offering from the Thanksgiving table, that’s what. This is Funky Buddha Brewing and their Sweet Potato Casserole Ale.
I can hear the groans and derisive questions from here. “Really?! What’s next, Scalloped Potato Saison? Buttered Croissant Bock? Roast Turkey Radler?” Come on, folks. This isn’t like Jones Soda and their – shudder – Green Bean Casserole and Turkey Gravy colas. The sweetness of most malted grain is the perfect vehicle to emulate qualities found in comfort food desserts. Tweak the recipe just a little bit and you have a liquid substitute for an after-dinner treat.
This is a strong beer brewed with sweet potato, the tubers lending an earthy, nutty sweetness to the ale; 18,000 pounds-worth, actually. No word as of yet on the other ingredients usually found bubbling around your Corningware.
This Oakland Park, Florida brewery has made quite the name for themselves in a very short time, so when I heard they finally had state-wide distribution, I jumped at the chance to see how oddball, funky and daring they could get. Sweet Potato Casserole fits those criteria perfectly.
This ale is the color of see-through mahogany with a moderate, frothy cap. Beer such as this usually is as advertised, so the only surprises are either how successfully or unsuccessfully it hits the mark. Success! Brown sugar, sweet potato and marshmallow scents come off of this beer like it’s fresh out of the oven. The flavor allows all that as well plus notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, caramel, vanilla and pecan. All that sweetness would be over the top if it weren’t for the nice carbonation keeping things from being too rich. I’m seeing this marrying well to our Roast Beast Pork Loin & Bacon Sandwich along with some of our Sweet Potato Fries.
Mashed Potato & Gravy Maibock? Oh, knock it off… Funky Buddha has a great antidote to the pumpkin blahs.