America is almost equally split on pumpkin beer, margin of error plus/minus 8 points. Gimmick and gimcrack, some say. Done to death. Every brewery just has to have a pumpkin something or other.
Others feel it’s the perfect fit for the season; a reminder of cool fall days gone by, bringing the sweaters out of storage, strolling through the woods with Mary Lou under the leaves going gold while ol’ Farmer Jenkens brings in the harvest. It’s the gentle, Americana wholesomeness of sipping spiced cider on a hayride. Summertime can keep Mom’s apple pie… I’d like a slice of pumpkin with a dollop of whipped cream, thank you.
When we were children, so many of us looked forward to this time of year; anticipation building into the inevitable sugar rush of a Halloween score. How to choose which costume to get when you get only one? I still stroll past the store-bought costumes, nostalgic for the smell of that flimsy, plastic mask, breath condensation gathering around the nose and mouth, cheap elastic band garroting into skin.
To run around the annual school party dressed as super heroes, ghosts, robots and mummies; to escape into another persona while bothering the neighbors for candy; to decorate the house and carve pumpkins into a stupid face, pulling its gooey, stringy guts out the top of its head… It’s no wonder us grown-ups continue to cleave close to Halloween!
Still, we age and with getting older come new games and activities. Case in point is the German beer hall tradition of Masskrugstemmen. You may know it as Stein Hoisting. Hold a full, glass liter mug of beer out in front of your body at a 45 degree angle without bending your arm, supporting your arm or spilling any beer for as long as you can. Go ahead, try it out. It’s much harder than it looks.
Hopjacks and Sam Adams Brewing hosted this competition last year; one of a few throughout the region. We’re bringing it back tonight for another round downtown at 8 pm. Seeing as how I’m pining for more pumpkin beer and looking for ways to bridge my childhood good times to my adult life and work-related activities, I think I’ll pour myself a Fat Jack.
This is Sam Adams’ double pumpkin ale; status achieved via 28 lbs of pumpkin per barrel and fermenting it up to a hefty 8.5% ABV. The dark, russet-orange color and dense, frothy head give way to sweet scents of pumpkin and pie spice with a touch of Bazooka Joe bubble gum (Halloween candy on the brain, I guess). Its creamy body offers up caramel, pumpkin pie, orange peel and brown sugar flavors with a hint of pepper provided by rye malt plus earthy British hops.
Whether or not you’re joining us for Stein Hoist tonight, you should definitely hoist a glass of this nostalgia-inducing pumpkin beer and reflect fondly upon younger days.