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Sunday, 30 October 2016 16:32

October 28, 2016 Beer Pick of the Week

Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale Picmonkey

Pumpkin Ale


Laurelwood Brewery

Portland, Oregon

Style: Pumpkin ale with spices

Alcohol: 7.2%

IBUs: 20

Serving Style: 22-ounce bottles and kegs

Availability: Seasonal in the Northwest

Saturday, 17 October 2015 19:43

October 17, 2015 Beer Pick of the Week

elysian brewery great pumpkin ale Picmonkey

Great Pumpkin


Elysian Brewing Co.


Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Alcohol: 8.1%

IBUs: 20

Serving Style: 22-ounce bottles, kegs (our sample from draft)

Availability: Seasonal throughout the West


Appearance:   “Amber color with a cream-colored head.”

Aroma:   “Pumpkin pie spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and . . . ?”

Taste:   “Lively—good carbonation. Nice mouthfeel, there’s a creaminess offset by all that carbonation. There’s definitely a pumpkiney personality, but not overwhelmingly so. A fun diversion appropriate for the season.”

Food Affinity:   “Baked goods that aren’t too sweet and contain a bit of anise. Meat dishes prepared with cumin.”


  --Guest Reviewer Grant Chang works in California’s Silicon Valley

Friday, 11 October 2013 16:32

Pumpkins Two Ways

by Dan Clarke

Sometimes we discourage publicists from sending products we just don't think sound very interesting. However, in the case of the two interpretations of seasonal beer that arrived recently, we were intrigued.

Two accomplished brewers collaborated on the project not to produce one beer, but to come at the pumpkin-theme from different perspectives: Shaun Sullivan, the brewmaster at San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery and his friend Dick Cantwell of Elysian Brewing in Seattle. Both beers are available in cans labeled “HE SAID,” but sporting different colors and stories of the beers inside them.

Each of these beers contains 8.2% alcohol by volume. Their “recipes,” as included in the information accompanying our two samples, follow:


 HE SAID Tripel can Picmonkey

HE SAID Belgian-Style Tripel

“The story starts in 2010 when Dick Cantwell walked into our San Francisco pub. We'd heard about his little pumpkin fest and wanted to get together to brew a pumpkin beer like no other.: a Belgian-style Tripel brewed with pumpkin, galangal and tarragon. In a dark colored can.

Malts: 2-Row, Aromatic, Belgian Candi Sugar

Special Ingredients: Pumpkin Puree, Pumpkin Juice

Hops: German Northern Brewer, US Golding, Sterling

Spices: Galangal, Tarragon

Yeast: Trappist Ale Yeast”


HE SAID Porter can Picmonkey


HE SAID Baltic-Style Porter

“The story starts in 1999 when Shaun O'Sullivan walked into my Seattle pub. He'd heard about my massive pumpkin fest and wanted to get together and brew a pumpkin beer like no other: a Baltic-style Porter brewed with pumpkin , caraway and cinnamon. In a light colored can.

Malts: 2-Row, Carafa II, Cara-Vienne, Dark Munich, Carafa III

Special Ingredients: Pumpkin Puree, Pumpkin Juice

Hops: German Northern Brewer, Sturian Golding

Spices: Vietnamese Cinnamon, Caraway Seed

Yeast: German Lager Yeast”


The pumpkin beers are being marketed together--two 12-ounce cans of each interpretation in a four-pack. Since they're distributed just during this autumn, tasting and reporting wasn't to be put off. The project seemed like fun and I thought we'd invoke the principle of a jury, rather than just one reviewer, for whatever coverage we might do. With just one can of each beer, we weren't really outfitted for a party, but I decided to convene an ad-hoc tasting panel. The staff and customers at The Shack in Sacramento are among the area's most knowledgeable. And my car knows the way there.


Five people tasted with me. They included one customer and four of the staff (one from the kitchen, three from front of the house). It wasn't a competition, but when you have two different interpretations of the same subject it's only natural that folks would take a “which one's better?” approach. Following are some of the comments:


Sean Montgomery:  (re the Tripel) “Really good because it actually tastes like pumpkin and not just cinnamon and allspice like most pumpkin beer.” (re. the Porter) “Just doesn't work. It's a little medicinal for me. A little cigarette ashy.”Jen Witek PicmonkeyJen Witek


Jen Witek:  (re the Tripel) “Excellent. Absolutely fabulous.” (re. the Porter) “O.K., but I much prefer the other.”

Christopher Fairman Oct 09 2013 PicmonkeyChristopher Fairman

Chris Delgado:  “They were both easy drinking.”


Christopher Fairman:  (re the Tripel) “This really tastes like a pumpkin pie (with whipped cream). I would drink this.” (re the Porter) “It's revolting.”


Dan Clarke:  (re. the Tripel) “Nose seems a little like mentholated cough drops, then more like pumpkin as I get used to it. Taste exhibits much more pumpkin quality.” (re. the Porter) “Not bad taste, but doesn't seem very 'pumpkiney'.”


Charlie Ellis PicmonkeyCharlie EllisCharlie Ellis:  (re. the Tripel) “It tastes like fall, but better because it has alcohol. I taste a little black olive.” (re. the Porter) “Had a little 'ashy' aftertaste. Thought it tasted of cardamom. I'd like to mix something with it (use as an ingredient in creating a dish).”


Editor's note: In addition to links to the websites of thousands of Lodging, Dining and Winery options, Taste California Travel's Resource Directory has links to the website of The Shack, as well as the sites of most of all the other beer centric establishments throughout California.


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