We’ve reached that time of year again when the kids are back to school, the weather slowly starts to change, and all things are turning up pumpkin! While I look forward to and embrace the pumpkin foods, spices and scents that pop up each fall season (if you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know by now that I enjoy featuring pumpkin-related recipes come the autumn season), one thing that I am a bit overwhelmed by is the early release and wide variety of pumpkin-related beers. It seems that each year, the pumpkin spiced beers are hitting the shelves earlier and earlier. Each year also brings a wider variety of pumpkin, autumn and Octoberfest beers. Because these beers move so quickly off the shelves, I try to stay ahead of the game by stock-piling my favorites as early as possible. This year I found myself purchasing a few bottles as early as late July, storing them in my basement until the cooler weather approaches.
Although I do tend to stick to most of my fall favorites (Souther Tier Pumking, Long Trail Harvest, Hacker Pschorr Original Octoberfest, Sam Adams Octoberfest, Harvest Moon), I do like to sample some of the new seasonals that I come across. This year I found a bottle that really piqued my interest – Harpoon Pumpkin Cider. Described as a combination of their traditional cider and their spicy winter warmer, it sounded like the perfect fall offering. The label is also very clever, depicting an apple carved out like a jack-o-lantern. Being a sucker for all things pumpkin, and also being a fan of most other Harpoon brews, I couldn’t pass up on grabbing a six pack to keep on hand. Since the weather has been a bit more comfortable at nights, I decided to give this one an early seasonal tasting.
Gotta say…this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. While there was a nice aroma of fresh pressed apples, I could hardly pick up any of the traditional pumpkin spices. What shocked me even more was the color of the cider once I poured it. I was expecting a rich, amber-like color, but instead found it to be a very pale golden yellow, almost champagne-like. The taste was also very light and crispy, again almost champagne-like. Not a bad taste, but not what I was expecting. And again, no hints whatsoever of pumpkin spices. Many of the usual pumpkin spices would work well with apple cider (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg), even if ‘pumpkin’ wasn’t part of the equation. Unfortunately, I could’t detect any of it. Instead I was left with the impression that I had a glass of a light and crisp, slightly tart champagne. Not necessarily a bad drink, just not at all what I hoped for.
Each year, I usually come across one dud out of the bunch. Last year was Blue Moon’s Caramel Apple Cider. This year, the dud apparently came right out of the gate. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the remainder of my fall stash. Luckily I have a basement full of fall brews, and an entire season to enjoy them!
If you are interested in trying a Harpoon seasonal, skip this one and go for their Octoberfest or their UFO Pumpkin.