Beer Review: Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

Name: Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale
Brewing Company: Schlafly – The Saint Louis Brewery
Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 8%

From the beer’s description on Schlafly’s Web site:

Our Pumpkin Ale blends the spices of the harvest with full-bodied sweetness for a beer that tastes like pumpkin pie. Pounds of pumpkin form a malty foundation that supports the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

While pumpkin beers were produced in the early days of the American colonies, they were different from the pumpkin beers we know today. Colonists used pumpkin and squash as the fermenting medium, since malted barley was scarce. Once malt became more readily available, it replaced these alternatives to grain. In the 1990’s, American craft brewers reintroduced the style to the delight of pumpkin beer drinkers.

Pumpkin Beers are one of the more looked-down-upon styles in American Craft beer, it seems there are just as many articles in the beer-writing community decrying the style as there are variations on the style. I’ve even written one such article myself, although it was more about the ridiculous and overwhelmingly early placement of the beers in stores and not about the style itself. As I say in that post, I enjoy pumpkin beers as much as I enjoy many other styles. When done well, a pumpkin beer can be a wonderful tasting beer, just like this fine ale from Schlafly in Saint Louis, MO. The best brewery in Saint Louis.

While Schlalfly may be overshadowed in sheer size by a certain Clydesdale wagon-pulling brewery in Saint Louis, the overall quality of Schlafly more than makes up for it. I’ve had a handful of brews from them, over 50 pumpkin beers since joining untappd, and Schlafly’s is probably the most consistent tasting over the years and an example of how the straightforward approach with the relatively standard components of a pumpkin beer can produce a very tasty beer which, ultimately, has set the bar for the style.

The aroma of the pumpkin pie spices wafts from the bottle as it pours into the glass. The beer is a lovely amber-orange, exactly what to expect with a pumpkin ale. A small head atop makes for a nice presentation that is surpassed by the taste.

The spices and pumpkin are upfront and present throughout the beer. What I appreciated most about this specific Pumpkin Ale is the added sweetness. Some pumpkin beers can have a slight bitter aftertaste or (all I can think of) is too much earthiness. The added sweetness in Schlafly’s version balances out and just about removes that aftertaste. The end result is the gold standard for Pumpkin Ales, or in this case Orange-Amber standard.

I’ve had other pumpkin ales (over 50, according to untappd) and for the straight-up Pumpkin Ale, just about all others are in the shadow of what Schlafly has been consistently brewing for years. The recipe seems relatively unchanged and the beer is model of Autumnal consistency.

Only one other pumpkin beer for me hits as many notes as well as this one does and that one is technically not a Pumpkin Ale, but rather a stout with Pumpkins and the associated spices.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

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