Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

It’s been so long since my last beer review that I should be ashamed.  I mean, I was doing so well there for a while

Ah, life.  Something we can’t get away from and still keep writing.

I was at the local supermarket earlier this week when I found myself unable to leave without a bit of beer.  This particular store only carries one beer from a craft brewery, and for some reason I wasn’t in the mood for Sweetwater 420.  It just wasn’t that kind of a night.  Instead I settled for a seasonal Harvest Pumpkin Ale from Blue Moon Brewing Company, which we all should know (or should know) is owned by MillerCoors.  No matter how you look at it, MillerCoors influences the feel and taste of this beer.

It also explains why I found it at a grocery store in Adel, Georgia.

With flash, so you can see the label

Without flash, so you can see the color of the beer.

From the neck label:

A pumpkin ale crafted with autumn’s bounty of vine-ripened pumpkin and flavors of cloves, allspice, and nutmeg.  Then brewed with a touch of wheat for a smooth, lightly spiced finish.

The average brewer with experience in spiced ales knows immediately that this is bullshit.  That aside, it’s a drinkable ale.  When I twisted off the top and poured the first one, I put it to my untainted nose and could detect the nutmeg and allspice flavors.  It’s a clear reddish-brown ale, and a bit fizzy with little head retention.

First taste is a bit astringent, but held in the mouth one can get the “wheat” and liken it to Blue Moon’s Belgian White.  The two have a strikingly similar finish.  It could be the water out there in Golden, or an addition of corn sugar to push up the alcohol by volume to 5.7%. The carbonation is the same level as an American lager, another tell-tale sign of large-brewery influence.  You cannot bottle-condition with twist-off caps.

Aside from the aroma that I sometimes have to close my eyes and breathe in very slowly to really get in, I’m not impressed with this brew.  Drinkability was an obvious factor when this was created.

My wife brought me some Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (8%) and Terrapin’s Pumpkinfest (6.1%) tonight.  It’s my birthday tomorrow and I hope to have good quality beer in the evening.  Until then,

Cheers!

Ben on Beer Episode 6 – Victory Brewing Company

In this episode, Donovan and I continue to get comfortable with the new setup as we discuss the awesomeness of Victory Brewing Company and the friendly culture of craft beer and home brewing.  Cheers!

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Ben on Beer Episode 5 – Publix Knows The Way

In this episode, we chose a new format and had some technical difficulties.  It was an interesting show and we talked about the new grocery store in our small town that somehow provides the most diverse selection of craft beer within 50 miles.  We also discussed Oskar Blues and their new Brevard, NC brewery and restaurant.

Cheers!

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Ben on Beer Show 4

In this episode we continue to discuss the brewery of the month, Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado.  Their farm-to-plate philosophy includes raising cattle and growing hops right there on their farm in Longmont.  We tasted Deviant Dale’s IPA from there and discovered just how diverse one beer can be.

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End of Summer Drawing – Plastic Beer Steins

Hey Folks!  The end of summer is upon us, and I’ve been propositioned by a promotional products company to hold a drawing.  The lucky winner will receive a set of 10 PlastPlastic Beer Steinic Beer Steins absolutely free.  I imagine they’re an assortment of different types/shapes of mugs; I’m not sure.  We all could use something more to drink out of, whether it’s beer, water, kool-aid, or soda (not that I recommend anything other than beer and water).

So if you don’t have enough plastic mugs around the house, enter the drawing to win 10 new vessels.  Again, the actual product may vary from the photo in this post.

To enter, send an e-mail to steins@benonbeer.com with at least the text “2012” in the subject line.  Open to residents of the United States. The drawing will be done by computer on September 28 during the Ben on Beer show.  Duplicate entries won’t count.

The winner will be contacted for shipping information via e-mail after the drawing.  Good luck!

Almost All About Hops

Hop Flower ConeIt has taken me a long time to write an article on hops for many reasons. I’m not going to tell you anything here that you can’t find or read about anywhere else, but there’s so much to this plant and about its use that no single source seems to capture it all. I think it answers most of the questions about hops that I originally had, plus some lesser-known trivia I found along the way.

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Ben on Beer Episode 3

In this episode we introduce the brewery of the month for August, Oskar Blues Brewing of Lyons, Colorado.  I also divulge everything I have learned recently about hops, the wonderful plant that gives craft beer its bitterness.

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Hoppy IPA Day!

I must admit I’d never heard of IPA Day until this year, but in my defense it’s not a national pastime yet.  Today is the 2nd Annual IPA Day according to the official site of the celebration, so get to your local craft beer retailer and pick some up!

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#mycraftbeerepiphany Newcastle Brown Ale

Some might not consider Newcastle Brown Ale to be craft beer, but it’s what did it for me. On my 21st birthday, my mom went to Colorado Springs to celebrate since I was in the Army and couldn’t make it home. I chose to go out to Red Hot & Blue for dinner, and that particular place was a brewpub. I ordered a beer as I explored my newfound legality, but whatever I ordered was simply too much for my palate. Heavy, dark, and hoppy is all I remember. A convert that night I was not.

Years later I found myself in a hole-in-the-wall pub in another area in Colorado Springs with a friend who was brought up in England.  He ordered me a Newcastle Brown Ale (Nukey) and I think I drank it from the bottle.  It wasn’t overbearing, and it didn’t smell like vomit.  It was served at a temperature somewhere in the 60s Fahrenheit, and it was so surprising that it wasn’t rancid.  I was hooked.

I still drink industrial beer every once in a while (on a hot day), but less and less often every year.  I just learned the other day that hop extract is in use more often now at the big breweries than real hops.  A beer made with hop extract, corn, and rice isn’t a beer at all, so I really should find a craft alternative to AB-InBev and MillerCoors, like the no-adjunct Bomb Lager (Helles) from Bomb Beer Company.

Quantities Abound

This project is finally coming to an end.  This isn’t intended to be a full-on review of the beers mentioned in the article but to illustrate a point: the mega-breweries do not produce a unique product.  I took nine different cans and compared them visually and by taste to see if any one of them stood out in any way.  Read on to learn what I did and didn’t do.

I don’t have a whole lot of notes; I didn’t really take any.  I tasted the Natural Light first, as it was simply the first in line.  The next, Coors Light, has a distinctly different taste to it than Natural Light, though that difference cannot be described in terms of ingredients.  I believe I could only tell this because I tasted them together.  The next, Coors, had just the slightest bit more body than the two light beers before, but still had that same old smell that American lagers have.

When I got down to the Bud Light, that familiar yet still indescribable taste was found, right where I left it in 1996.

 

Old Milwaukee somehow comparatively tasted like some cleaning solvent found in a motorcycle repair shop.  Seriously.

After my tasting that included spillage down my beard and onto my shirt, I concluded that the smell of bile is something they all have in common once they begin to get warm (I’m talking low 60s F warm, not room temperature).  That is simply something I cannot get over, and was not able to drink them all during the video/photo shoot in my back yard.

I must admit I wasted beer, but it wasn’t really beer to begin with.  I’m sure that at some point in the 19th and 20th centuries these breweries, while still separately owned and producing for quality, made something worth drinking.  I do not believe that to be the case today.  Enjoy craft beer and know where it comes from.  Get to know or read about the people who make it and make sure it’s good.  If you don’t know where to start, just ask me!