Thursday, 20 October 2016

Can we establish "squashed" as slang for "drunk on something pumpkin-flavoured", please?

Ah, pumpkin beer season – that golden few weeks between hefeweissen and winter spiced ales filling the temporary slots at the LCBO, when it's a truly great (or at least weird, and in the realm of microbrewing you can't deny the reasonable fungibility or at least considerable overlap of the two concepts) time to be a craft beer dork. A few new flavours showed up this year, and most of the old standards at least got some updated packaging. I'm starting off with the new arrival (at least to the Blasted Wastes) that stood out the most, if not entirely for positive reasons – Central City Brewing Company's Red Racer Pumpkin Ale.

It never occurred to me to do a blind taste-test or similar until afterward, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm possibly prejudiced against British Columbia pumpkin beers. Just like Steamworks Pumpkin Ale (nowhere to be found at local stores this year), the first aspect of the flavour I noticed was a distinct suggestion of soap. This gives way to a lingering aftertaste of ginger (and in my opinion, suggests the overuse of same) I have to wonder; am I projecting my frustration over the whole wine rivalry situation, or is this an actual characteristic – at least subtrend - of this genre in B.C., like the copper tint and excessive allspice of so many of its Ontario-brewed cousins? In the interest of getting some small piece of actual content up before Hallowe'en, I'll leave that as a question for the philosophers. No psychologists, please - I want weird answers, not ones that make me feel bad.

In another sharp contrast to current Ontario trends, Red Racer Pumpkin Ale is an immediately appealing brick colour, standing out among the numerous variations on orange (or, less often black - I still haven't cracked into this year's Stack Last Bite yet). It's strongly carbonated and forms a thick cartoon-beer head, which makes for an impressive presentation, but unfortunately also serves to visually reinforce the impression of soap on the first mouthful.

While Red Racer doesn't start particularly strong, it certainly has interesting depths. One area where it unquestionably delivers is pumpkin flavour - the initial waxy overtones, while not welcome, become more understandable given the strong squash aspects of the brew proper. The ever-dominant ginger cuts through this taste well, and at this moment the subtler spice flavours in the body of the brew become more evident. Central City deserves full credit for actually delivering a pumpkin beer, rather than simply one with pie spices and/or a too-sweet sodalike concoction – while the nose and aftertaste are overwhelmed in ginger, the beer proper is well-balanced and succeeds in presenting the fusion of ale and classic pumpkin pie.

In terms of pairing, I was pretty satisfied matching a bottle of Red Racer Pumpkin Ale with a pancake supper of buttermilk cakes, sausages and peach syrup. Partnered with this scope of flavours, the lead-in and finish were definitely more forgivable, if still less than desirable overall.

No comments:

Post a Comment