My first post of October comes late, and it's a general catch-up of my notes. I promised myself I'd be doing mini-features on two styles of beer around this time; Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers. For the former, there are still plenty of bottled samples around the place, while I've yet to see much pumpkin beers pop up. I'm not even sure if there will be any, although I am sure that I'll trying a pint of Trouble Brewing's Pumpkin Ór in the Bierhaus soon.
One pumpkin beer that can be found easily is Shipyard's Pumpkinhead. The brewer and their beers aren't very highly considered, but I tried to put that out of my head to give this a fair whack. Also, it was my first pumpkin beer, and I wanted to know what I'd be looking for if I get the chance to try some of the other pumpkins later in the month.
Pumpkinhead pours a clear sparkling orange with a negligible eggshell head. On the nose, I actually got a bit excited - not much pumpkin, but plenty of clove and pepper, and a suspicious amount of cinnamon. The taste opens to more of the same, with cinnamon and clove dominating. Somewhere in the middle there's a kind of fruity sweet taste, which may be the pumpkin I'm expecting. It doesn't so much taste bad, it just doesn't taste very good. The artificial character, watery mouthfeel and overall quality of the beer puts me in mind of the horrid Blue Moon, even though I'd rate it higher than that mess. One thing they certainly have in common is that after half a glass, it gets very tough to finish.
On the nicer, happier place with J.W. Lees Moonraker. Unfortunately there's no photograph for this one, so you'll just have to take my word when I say it poured a very dark yet clear blood red, with a small off-white layer of foam. The nose gives off a touch of metallic hops, but it's not overpowering. There's a lovely deep malt backbone to the aroma, with biscuit notes that remind me of the biscuit in a Malteser. Toffee and chocolate are there too, as well as a Quad-like dark fruit. The taste is more or less the same, with deep and dark chocolate, toffee, biscuit malt and fizzy dark fruit leading into a warm caramel finish. It's complex yet quaffable, and a lovely one to have at this time of year. Certainly recommended.
Staying in England, we move to Cornwall and St Austell, for a taste of their Proper Job. Powerfully hopped, says the bottle. We'll see about that.
It pours a shade or two darker than gold with a foamy white head. It smells lovely, with citrus and resinous hops and a definite biscuit malt character underneath. It's certainly hop driven, but not exactly a hop powerhouse. Either way it's gorgeous. The taste opens with delicious juicy citrus, floral, and zesty hops, followed by smooth, warmer malt in the second half. In the same way, all the beer's bitterness stays to the front, although the lovely refreshing fruit character is retained to the end. A great beer, and another recommendation.
Finally, off to Germany. I'll be returning to this part of the shop soon when I try some of the bottled Oktoberfest beers, but for now I'm going to stick to another favourite style of mine, particularly for this time of year - the doppelbock.
Weisenohe Bonator pours a clear dark red with absolutely no head. It doesn't look totally unlike a glass of cola, but the smells gives the game away. It's very much like the Paulaner Salvator, offering huge malts, dark toffee, marzipan and a slight touch of marker pen/alcohol heat to finish. Some may say it's offensive, but it's just what I wanted. The taste isn't much like the Salvator at all, however. It's much less harsh, with the sugary texture and sweetness staying away til the very end. Until then, it's all toffee, dark chocolate malt and lovely dark fruit. Absolutely perfect for the style. What's less than perfect is the unusual lack of carbonation, as hinted by the failure to produce a head. As such, I'd like to give this another go; first to see if I get more fizz, and second to enjoy those wonderfully warming flavours again. A great beer for autumn and winter, and a third and final recommendation.