Our 11th and 12th pumpkin beer of the 2014 Autumnal season come from two different breweries, in two different cans, and one single boxed set of 4: He Said, He Said.
If the box is to be believed, San Francisco’s 21st Amendment and Seattle’s Elysium breweries have differing stories about who approached whom in coming up with these two cobrewed pumpkin beers. Not in dispute is that one is a darkcolored pumpkin beer (25 SRM) in a lightcolored can and the other is a lightcolored pumpkin beer (12 SRM) in a darkcolored can.
Elysium is known for their obsession with pumpkin beer, having brewed at least 30 different pumpkin beer. Sadly, they are hard to get down here in the bay area. 21st Amendment are known for starting the “microcanning revolution,” producing craft beer in cans before anyone else thought such a thing was viable.
The “he said, he said” thing seems to be contagious. A fellow brewer and friend trying this beer alongside me admitted he was unfamiliar with the Baltic Porter style (which the first of these beers is brewed in).“What makes a porter ‘Baltic’ he said, scanning the label text.“It’s lagered,” I replied. Screwing his eyebrows together, he said, “a lagered dark beer cannot be a porter. If you lager a beer, it’s a lager. If you use darker malt, that’s a schwarzbier.” “Schwartzbier,” I countered, “eschews roast characteristics the ’schwartz’ is about the color, not the flavor.” “Exactly!” he said, “which is why it’s a lager. You just can’t lager a porter.” “You can,” I said, “it’s called a ‘Baltic Porter’” and handed him the BJCP style guidelines.“Well, hell,” he said, reading the description. As I said, the he said he said thing is contagious. Drink this package with caution.
Of the two, I have to say the Baltic Porter is a tasty beer. There’s a nice aroma and it’s a creamy sip, balancing roast against a smooth lager character. Unfortunately, one of the two porter cans had a strong diacetyl odor as it warmed accompanied by a harsh pineapple flavor. It was difficult to discern pumpkin or spice flavor.
Not a fan of Belgian yeasts (nor their generally highgravity beer), I concede that if any type of beer would compliment the sweet, highgravity Belgian tripel with its estery yeast notes, it might be a spice beer. This was a sweet, gently spiced beer. As I said, I’m not a fan of the style, but it wasn’t the worst Belgianstyle beer I’ve ever had. The baltic porter He Said would be a refreshing accompaniment to an appetizer platter of mild cured meat and cheeses. The Belgian tripel would be good with spicy dishes.