Not to long ago I was talking to an owner of one of our Delaware breweries when the topic of pumpkin beers came up. We conversed on the subject a bit and I comment about another brewery having a beer with pumpkin in it as early as the end of August. When I said that many people were raising a questioning eye brow over the continued earliness of pumpkin beers and that many people were wondering how they get the pumpkins so early I was greeted with a shrug, “They use cans, we use cans, everyone uses cans. Raw pumpkin doesn’t have a lot of flavor and no one is going to drive a truck full of pumpkins up to their brewery.”
That statement holds a lot of truth behind it. Many breweries today get their pumpkin from a Libby’s can. But the problem with using one sided words like “everyone” and “no one” is that sooner or later, someone is going to prove you wrong. And in this case that someone is Rogue Ales. Rogue (who almost seems to have a mission statement of “We Prove People Wrong”) has indeed pulled a truck full of pumpkins up to their brewery in their newest release Chatoe Pumpkin Patch.
THEM: Pumpkin Patch is a Rogue GYO beer, which stands for “Grow Your Own” and designates a series of beers of which ingredients are grown on Rogue’s own farm. The series has included beers that have featured different grains and hops that they’ve grown, and with Pumpkin Patch they have expanded this practice to fresh pumpkins.
The beer starts with a not to assuming grain bill of Great Western 2-Row, Carawheat, and Weyermann Carafe Malts. Rogue Micro Hopyard Rebel Hops (yes, that’s what they’re called) are added to balance the beer out to 25 IBUs. Ginger, Cloves, Vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg are added for spice, but it’s the pumpkin that is the highlighted ingredient in this beer. The pumpkins was harvested fresh (thus explaining why this beer was released so late into the season as compared to other pumpkin beers), driven straight to the brewery where they were roasted and immediately chucked into the brew kettle.
HA! No, i said chucked in, not chunkin. Does the produced beer live up to that level of commitment and effort to freshness? Let’s taste.
ME: The beer pours a cloudy brown. The steady stream of bubbles doesn’t do anything to help keep the head on this beer for very long. The aroma has a nice level of spices, which come across almost like brown sugar, which are prominent but not over powering. The flavor is classic spice pumpkin beer, hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla are mixed with a nice pumpkin flavor. The finish has a light lingering spiciness and a sweetness that at first I thought it wasn’t to much, but by the end of the bottle it had built to the point where I wouldn’t have wanted two of them back-to-back.
As far as the pumpkin beers I’ve tried this season (point of disclosure, there haven’t been many) this ranks pretty high up there. It’s got the requisite flavor profile you’d expect from a spiced pumpkin ale. Does the fresh pumpkin make a difference? Not to me. But then again I’m not a certified Cucurbita tasteologist. It’s a nice though and I give props to Rogue for their efforts to bring farm fresh ingredients into the mix, I just don’t think it elevates this beer to level above other good examples of the style that I’ve had. Still, all in all, a very nice pumpkin beer.
Time for another beer.