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

  2. Brian

    July 20, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    Who cares if it is still summer. Either buy it or don’t. Or buy it now and age it until October. Simple

  3. Dan

    July 21, 2015 at 9:51 PM

    I think I tried enough different pumpkin beers last year that I’ll be skipping them for the most part this year. Another downfall is how much shelf real estate they take since each brewery “needs” a pumpkin beer.

  4. West Coast Beer Geek

    July 22, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    I’ll be skipping all the regular pumpkin beers, however I certainly will pick up some of the more unique ones (we had a wickedly awesome local one infused with pears for example).

    Agree 100% on the pumpkin beers released in summer, that’s BS for two reasons. One it’s way to early and two, perhaps the most important one, is that a lot of them will sit on shelves in the hot weather so you don’t want to bother drinking them by October since they’ll be stale and gross tasting.

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