Booze and leisure bloggers have no need for calendars, but we do require many of the same ointments, detergents, and jerkies that bring the rest of you into Walgreen’s on a regular basis. That trip is also how I know that Halloween hasn’t passed yet: The salted-pomegranate candy corn has yet to give way to next month’s gravy-flavored gummy bears, and the Tenuously Themed Plastic Crap Aisle is still running black and orange.
I’d typically tell you that beer reviews are for adults and Halloween is for children, and then scoff at the notion of 36-year-old tweens dressing up as Slutty Men’s Rights Activists, or whatever else Instagram demands of you this time around, before moving on to complain about the seasonal creep of Christmas brews. But I’m better now. These days, I’ve come to realize that the only thing sillier than a grown person playing Halloween is a grown person taking offense at it. Not to mention that we’ve recently moved into an apartment that seems to draw trick-or-treaters, so I’ll have to find a way to thematically drink on the front stoop this coming Saturday night. So, hooray for the holiday. Let’s drink the right beer for the occasion.
I don’t care for pumpkin beer in general, which is why we had to bring in a pinch-drinker to compile last year’s official Drunkspin ranking. My aversion to pumpkin isn’t philosophical, however. I don’t think pumpkin beer shows up too early or takes too much shelf space away from all the Märzens that we semi-pro drinkers gamely pretend to like this time of year. And I certainly don’t have a problem with spiced or otherwise adulterated beers. I just happen not to care for cinnamon and nutmeg and that kind of thing.
How to get around it? Well, I have it on high gourd authority that pumpkin stouts and porters are good at masking the pie spice menace, but I don’t want to rush into stout season before the leaves fall. I love the stuff, but there are so many gigantic and expensive imperials coming up over the next several months that I want to hold off a bit. In the ominous “other strong ale” category, Avery’s 18-percent ABV barrel-aged Rumpkin might work, but it costs $17 a bottle, which just isn’t an option until I dig out from under this mini-Snickers debt.
Tröegs Master of Pumpkins, which cheats the dirty pumpkin game by using a saison base, is pretty fantastic, but those bastards didn’t even buy an ad after winning last year’s ranking, and I’m not looking to reward that kind of ethical behavior. All that said, this year’s pick for Official Drunkspin Trick-or-Treating Beer is Boulevard’s Funky Pumpkin, a sour spin on the same old.
First off, a tip of the hair to Boulevard’s website for admitting that “pumpkin flavor [is] scarcely present” because it gets pummeled by the usual cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger dust. This is relevant because the American diet has consisted of 30-percent pumpkin-themed foods for at least the past decade, yet I doubt I’m the only one who still doesn’t have any idea what a fucking pumpkin tastes like.
And second off, the brewery has done a good job of throwing enough brettanomyces in there to tart up the pie flavors and elevate Funky P from “another pumpkin beer, but a little bit better because Boulevard’s good and the barrel-aging couldn’t have hurt” to a damn fine beer that I’d drink (if only one at a time) year-round were it available. Sure, there’s the spice gunk, but it’s muted by an assertive brett influence that leans more toward sour citrus than dirt. Lemon, orange, maybe even apple, who knows. Good, funky fruit, some of the expected warm spice, sure, but just enough to balance the sour notes in a festive sort of way.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse’s adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We’ll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Image by Jim Cooke.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter@WillGordonAgain.