“Tapping the Keg” is a weekly review of craft beers brought to you by staff writer Dan Wood.
With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving just around the corner, you might be exhausted by all of the pumpkin products out there. While you should always support seasonal and local practices, and pumpkins are certainly available around the town of Mansfield during this time of year, there are also plenty of imposters, using artificial pumpkin and spice where it doesn’t belong, causing a massive distrust toward anything seasonal.
But fear not; after all of the sugar loaded, unbalanced or funny-tasting pumpkin beer has been thrust upon the masses, New Belgium Brewery has the solution. Without pandering to the trend of crazy consumers who frequent Starbucks for a certain beverage, New Belgium’s Pumpkick keeps seasonality in mind and sensibility of flavor over gimmicks with its new seasonal beer.
Many beer critics have loved Belgium Brewery, and over the years, its beer, seasonal or otherwise, has always scored well. This fall was no exception. The packaging is in the typical style for New Belgium brews but instead of the earth tones that they are known for on their packaging, they went with a highlighter orange this time. Also true to form, the bottle is dressed with an original piece of art. For this brew, you can find a raven putting a cranberry into the eyehole of a sharp-toothed, jack-o-lantern, giving it a pupil behind a small pile of cranberries in the foreground.
This label gives way to this beer’s secret, but still seasonal ingredient: cranberries. This is a “beer brewed with pumpkin, cranberries, and spices,” according to the side of the bottle.
The color of this beer, an orange-amber - that of a fully ripened pumpkin, is very fitting considering its contents. This beer does not have much head retention but does have very fine carbonation, making for a very smooth beer. The nose gives us bright flavors of crisp red apples, roasted pumpkin, ginger, molasses and winter spice. The top of the beer confirms much of the nose, but is dominated by a balance of mild sweetness and spice. The top gives way to a pleasant acidity with the cranberry beginning to shine through as notes of sour, red fruit greet us. The finish of Pumpkick is incredibly mild, with only a slight minerality lingering on the tongue.
This beer does not have much of a body and is almost a perfect balance of sweet, spice and acidity. With the ABV at six percent, this beer is a little too easy to drink, even for those who are not big beer fans, so be careful. That being said: objectively, this is the best pumpkin beer I have had so far this season, and I hope it comes back in a throwback pack.
Because of the balance that Pumpkick has, its pairing potential is less restricted than other types of ales. It would be great with most white meats, including pork but perhaps not fish. The spices and fruit would also pair well with certain Greek foods, or even Thai or Indian curry. However, the most obvious paring for this beer is Thanksgiving dishes. This beer is acidic enough to cut through all the butter you may or may not be aware that you are consuming, but not so strong that it outshines dishes like green beans, stuffing or cranberry sauce. Speaking of stuffing, this beer would really be great with any dish that highlights pine herbs, such as sage, rosemary and thyme.
Pumpkick is not available locally at Price Chopper or Storrs Wine and Spirits, but you are likely to find it at Villa Spirit Shoppe at the end of Discovery Drive.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.