It's officially autumn. And with it comes falling leaves, hayrides, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the most important of all, more seasonal beers. Pumpkin ale is one of these seasonal beers that is not only enjoyed in today's society but was also highly appreciated in the 17th century. They liked it so much in fact that someone bothered to write lyrics about brewing with pumpkins in 1643. "If barley be wanting to make into malt / We must be contented and think it no fault / For we can make liqueur, to sweeten our lips / Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips." While many might enjoy these types of beers, there are some who find pumpkin ale to be an insult to their taste buds. Greg Kitsock, wrote this in the Washington Post: "Pumpkin adds some fermentable material to the beer and maybe a little mouthfeel and sweetness, but not much else" and adding later on that pumpkin ale is "a bit too cloying to buy by the sixpack." Despite these gripes, bars and breweries are releasing pumpkin ales for only a limited time (see our list online).
The popularity of pumpkin ales at Rudy's in New Haven forces the staff to constantly update their taps. As bartender and server Kira Plaut goes to check their selection, she realizes that their Blue Point Pumpkin Ale and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale have already run out, leaving Southern Tier Pumking, a local favorite. "We have a tough time keeping Pumking on tap," she says. "A lot of the time, the first thing customers do is ask for it. In fact, we tapped it yesterday and it's already almost gone." The Cask Republic has a similar problem. "Our menu is always fluctuating," says Manager James Mahoney. "Right around this time, our pumpkin ales sell really well."
In addition to serving various pumpkin ales from different breweries, The Southport Brewing Company also provides their own special creation called Mashing Pumpkin. "We have been serving Mashing for 15 years, and it's still extremely popular. In fact, we just ran out of it today," says Managing Partner Harry DeNigras in Milford. "However, it's currently being brewed in one of our breweries and will return to our taps tonight." The beer, made 15 kegs at a time, is a brew which Owner and Brewmaster Mark da Silva considers his specialty. "I'll come first thing in the morning and roast meat from 150 pounds of pumpkin," he says. "I'll then add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and vanilla to the boil but just enough to balance all the flavors." This symmetry between each ingredient defines Mark da Silva's philosophy on pumpkin ale. "I don't let any one of the flavors overpower the other, like some pumpkin ales do," he says. "I want people to appreciate the fact that Mashing is a beer, not just a pumpkin beer."
BARS AND BREW PUBS FEATURING PUMPKIN ALE (GREATER NEW HAVEN)
Buffalo Wild Wings
26 Backus Ave. Danbury, (203) 794-9453, buffalowildwings.com, 1201 Boston Post Road Milford, (203) 877-9453, 74-76 Church St. New Haven, (203) 789-9453, 350 Universal Drive N. North Haven, (203) 234-9453
Featured beers: Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, Wolaver's Pumpkin Ale
The Cask Republic
179 Crown St. New Haven, (475) 238-8335, thecaskrepublic.com
Featured beers (check for availability): Southern Tier Pumking, Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Blue Point Pumpkin Ale, Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider
3000 Whitney Ave. Hamden, (203) 553-7676, mikrobeerbar.com
Featured beer: Dogfish Punkin
The Outer Space
295 Treadwell St. Hamden, (203) 288-6400, thespacect.com
Featured beer: Ithaca Country Pumpkin
172 Temple St. New Haven, (203) 782-1616, prime16.com
Featured beer: Harpoon UFO Pumpkin
1227 Chapel St. New Haven, (203) 865-1242, rudysnewhaven.com
Featured beer: Southern Tier Pumking
Southport Brewing Company Restaurant & Brewery
2600 Post Road Southport, (203) 256-2337, southportbrewing.com, 850 W. Main St. Branford (203) 481-2739, 33 New Haven Ave. Milford (203) 874-2337, 1950 Dixwell Ave. Hamden, (203) 288-4677
Featured beers: Shipyard Pumpkin, Cicso Pumple Drumkin Spiced Ale, Southport Brewing Company's Mashing Pumpkin