Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Serving style: Draft
Location: The Scratcher
Cost: $5. Happy Hour!
ABV: 5.35 percent
Appearance: This is probably the most obvious thing I’ve ever written about a beer, but the color of this pumpkin ale is similar to, well, a pumpkin. It pours a nice, inch-size head initially, but that quickly dissolves into nothing. The best part about this beer, or any other pumpkin ale, really, is that if you line it up with a candle at the bar like I did, it’s great for making extremely lame jokes about jack-o-lanterns.
Aroma: The scent is kind of like if you pulled a pumpkin pie out of the oven, set it on the shelf, and then lit a clove cigarette in the same room. However, compared to others — like, for example, Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin — the pumpkin smell is not nearly as in your face.
Taste: Unlike the aroma, the additional spices come out much more in the flavor versus the scent. Many pumpkin beers set out and seem to want to taste exactly like pumpkin pie, and end up overly sweet and, honestly, a bit hokey. When I’m drinking a beer, even if it’s flavored in a special way, I want the ultimate taste to be beer. Wolaver’s does an admirable job not selling out their hops.
Mouthfeel: It’s a bit malty, but not quite as smooth as expected. Often, beers of this style have a consistency that seems closer to milk than a carbonated beverage, but this one thankfully didn’t go down that lactating path.
Overall Experience: Well, it’s October now, so I can officially stop hating that I’m seeing pumpkin ales in the store. This wasn’t the first one I’ve had of the season, and I’m sure it won’t be my last, but, I don’t know man, I just can’t really get on board with ’em. It’s not that I don’t think they’re bad or not enjoyable (and I typically enjoy seasonal brews a lot); I mainly don’t understand people’s obsession with pumpkin ale. At Brooklyn Pour last weekend, I witnessed beer enthusiasts lose their shit for Sixpoint’s Autumnation — which I understand is more of a “fall brew” than a specific pumpkin ale (and a pretty good beer at that), but ultimately the whole “pumpkin” thing feels a little too much like pandering. It’s like how the Internet feels about bacon or puppy cams. Like I said above, Wolaver’s does a good job holding onto the beery-ness of this ale, and that’s probably why I liked it, and it’s one I’ll continue to drink. But if I want something to taste like pumpkin pie, I’ll do what everyone else should do: Bake a goddamn pumpkin pie.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2012