Fall is upon us, so brewers are making pumpkin ales. Boston Beer Co. has been offering one for a long time, Samuel Adams Harvest Ale, which is notable for using English hops and both caramel and smoked malts in the mash. And pumpkin, of course. Harvest Ale throws 17 pounds of pumpkin into each barrel.
This year the brewery is trying out a version that punches up the pumpkin. Fat Jack uses 28 pounds per barrel (the pumpkin contributing a little sugar as well as its flavor). Batch No. 1 pours dark red amber, almost mahogany color, with a high yellowish tan head. The nose is mostly suave malt, with noticeable pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice), a lurking pumpkin note and some very subtle smoke. On the palate, it's malty sweet, almost like cider and raisins, with a moderate bitter edge in the finish. It's a little on the heady side, 8.5% alcohol by volume.
All this makes it an interesting beer for sipping, but (no surprise) it comes into its own when paired with food. Pumpkin is an obvious match, but it also has an affinity for roasted flavors — say, roast pork or molasses-type sweets such as spice cake or gingerbread.
Style: An extreme pumpkin ale for the holidays
Price: $7 per 22-ounce bottle
Where to find it: Total Wine, http://www.totalwine.com; and Beverages and More, http://www.bevmo.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times