13th in the series of 2014 pumpkin beer is Anderson Valley’s Fall Hornin’. A take on their boonting slogan “bahl hornin’,” (meaning “good drinking”) this second pumpkin beer from Anderson Valley is far less extreme than their big, bourbonbarrel ale (Pinchy Jeek Barl). Surprisingly darkhued (21 SRM), this frothy ale has a nice, cushiony head and a spiceforward character. Without much aromatic character to speak of, this may be the most satisfying of the year’s offerings in terms of providing a decent ale with just enough spice and pumpkin to give it a strong “harvest” character without being too far afield from what a decent northweststyle ale flavor profile should deliver on. It comes in cans, and that seems to have served it well to protect it from defects as it pours fresh and crisp, drinkably smooth with definite, but subtle, pumpkin flavors combining with a pleasant amount of hop bitterness edged by clove/cinnamon spice flavors. This would be an excellent beer to serve at a halloween party. Toss the orange, bat-adorned cans into a cooler of ice to show your dedication to seasonal craft brew (while handily dodging any chance of broken glass beer bottles) while you’re helping the kids carve their pumpkins.
Pumpkick from New Belgium Brewing is 14th in the lineup of 2014 pumpkin brews. Aside from the fact that it sounds like a Zumba move, the honeyhued (12 SRM) Pumpkick is a fascinating, drinkable cocktail of a beer. A nutmeg odor greets the nose as you move over the glass and a bright, surprisingly refreshing tart character promotes distinctly pumpkin flavors across your tongue. The source of that tartness? Cranberry juice. Without veering too far off the profile of beer, New Belgium has managed to leverage fruit, squash, and spice in a deft move to achieve something modern brewers often use hops or yeast for to bring out and enhance a beer’s natural malt character. Does it taste like beer? Definitively, yes. But its brightness is almost culinary adding an angle to the beer’s flavor one wouldn’t normally expect from your average pint of suds.
This would be an excellent beer to share with friends who “don’t like beer” to show them what a beer’s palate can sustain without going too far afield from what a beer lover enjoys about barley juice. The tartness and complex flavors at play would make this an excellent drink to pair with fruit, salads, or pudding.