October, the best month of the year, is here again! It brings hayrack rides, colorful leaves, scary movie marathons, cool weather — and pumpkin spice up the ass.
From coffee to muffins and even pancakes, pumpkin spicing can border on excessive. Some pumpkin is good, but too much can ruin the appetite for a big slice of pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, it all depends on the person.
The same goes for pumpkin-flavored beer. Some prefer to drink liquefied pieces of pumpkin pie, bursting with nutmeg and cinnamon; others prefer just a hint. October’s beer of the month — Pumpkin Down, brewed by the Ballast Point Brewing Company — provides a happy medium between the two extremes.
A pumpkin-spiced version of Ballast Point’s Piper Down Scottish ale, Pumpkin Down is brewed with “a boatload of roasted pumpkin,” according to the beer’s webpage, and “a subtle amount of spice to complement, but not overwhelm.” The result is a delicious and complex medley of rich malt flavors with a perfect touch of seasonal flavoring.
The color is ruddy amber. A finger of light tan, buttery, bubble-spotted head leaves a ring around the edge. The aroma is malty at first with just a hint of pumpkin pie. As the beer warms, though, all-spice, nutmeg and cinnamon gain prominence, but without overpowering the scents of caramel, toffee, roasted nuts and chocolate. The flavor has even less of a pumpkin pie character than the aroma, though the spices are still present. Flavors of caramel, toffee, chocolate, cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg, a touch of peat (it is a Scottish ale) and brown sugar are noticeable.
Alcohol Content: 5.8 percent ABV.
Food pairings: Recommended on the beer’s webpage are truffle risotto with butternut squash, sage gnocchi and jalapeño cornbread.
Where to buy: Pumpkin Down is available at major beer retailers where Ballast Point beers are sold, including New Pioneer, John’s Grocery, the Bread Garden and Hy-Vee stores.
Price: $10 for a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles, $2 for single 12-ounce bottles.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 207.