Can We Please Have Time To Enjoy The Beers Of Summer: A Pumpkin Ale Rant

Memphis, for the record, is hot.

It’s a not-that-dry, Midwestern heat; this is like gargling soup in a steam room. Think India hot – more to the point, think India Pale Ale, which is a great beer for this badly, cleared bayou where I receive my mail. IPA’s are light, pack a lot of flavor and helped build the British Empire.

History always works up a powerful thirst. So, there I was in the grocery story, calmly sweating to myself when I happened upon the first wave of the fall brewery selections looking all autumnal and Ichabod-Crane-like. This year, it seems, Pumpkin Ales are hot. For me, hot is the operative word; as in, I’m entirely too hot and most likely will be until early October. That not ironically happens to be about the time I’ll be inclined to try a beer style that vaguely sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel.

In a business as hipster as Craft Brewing, there is going to be a natural movement to the bleeding edge of any current trend. There is an inborn desire to get there first, and I get that. I just don’t care. Truth be told, I’m something of a Taoist when it comes to drinking: I imbibe with the seasons. When the weather demands tweed, I favor the Stout. After I break out the seersucker, it’s time to pull the Bitters, Kolschs, and Saisons. I don’t stop there, but I do stop at something that makes me think of the Detroit Lions annual Thanksgiving defeat.

There is an undeniable logic to my Tao of Drinking that really should be enshrined in a Tao of Brewing. We may live in an air-conditioned age, but beer is a natural product and that requires some link with nature. Taoism and beer – how hipster is that? Well, not very if its coming from a guy in seersucker.

A chemist friend told me that pumpkin spice is something of an aphrodisiac – making me wish that Starbucks had been selling those lattes when I was in college. Having missed that boat, swilling down Pumpkin Ale when it’s 90 degrees at happy hour to chase the charming Mrs. M around the house seems a bit needy.

To clarify, there will come a time when a nice Pumpkin Ale will seem like a perfectly jolly choice, but it isn’t when “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess is drawling around in my head. American Pale Ale – yes. Biere de Garde – oui. A proper Pilsner – ja. I’m even confident enough to admit (in writing) to drinking the odd shandy. Damn right. Memphis’ own Wiseacre Brewing Co. makes a smoked Helles called Dr. Gibbler that tickles my giblets. I had to be talked into it because, honestly, smoked beer sounds too clever by half. Paired with a slab of ribs you’ll have redefined, good barbeque. And that’s what you do in Summer.

When the time does come to drink Pumpkin Ale, I’ll write a ripping review. You can expect it sometime in late October, when the hep crowd is testing the new spring beers.

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Writer, humorist. Have covered tomfoolery across Hell's half acre and Clarksdale, MS. Former brewer of Murffbrau - then did the world a favor and stopped.


  1. Pingback: It’s Too Damn Hot for This Beer | Richard Murff

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