Blue Collar Brew Review – Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

Tonight we’re having the second of two sixpacks transported across the Illinois-Missouri border. This special cargo has been sitting in the beer fridge out in the Manly Garage for a week and I drool at the thought of taking the first sip of this local St. Louis brew that I vaguely remembered sampling last year during our last visit there. Since it was Labor Day and I was in St. Louis, it was my main goal to score this special beer and do an in-depth review on SPT.

As you may have read during yesterday’s review, I had planned on purchasing and drinking local beers during our family’s visit to my sister’s home. We made some time and took a jaunt to the nearby Schnuck’s mart with the explicit purpose of buying beer. My number one priority was Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. I had tasted a sample bottle months ago and I remembered it to be the seasonal autumn beer that most tasted like pumpkin pie.

At the store, my brother-in-law and I were scanning the beer cooler looking for the ale while managing our grocery cart. Apparently a young lady within earshot, also with a cart, overheard us talking about beer and she spoke up. She and I had a brief chitchat about pumpkin ales and the local breweries and she helped us out by pointing to the last sixpack of Schlafly Pumpkin Ale in the cooler. We completely missed it. I thanked her and my brother-in-law offered her an SPT business card. She gladly took it and we bade our goodbyes. I got what I came for. What a nice feeling.

Now here it is, Saturday night, and I’m ready. As usual, many questions went through my pumpkin head: Did they change the recipe? Will it taste the same as I remember it? Has my increased liking of IPAs spoiled my taste buds? Will I ever be the same again? Will this beer taste the inside of freshly carved jack-o-lantern or more like pumpkin pie? Why does my nose itch?

Regardless of the recommended glass for a pumpkin ale (lager glass, tumbler,) I opted for my very own special Schlafly shaker with the emblem etched on it, which I bought, personally, at the Schlafly BottleWorks facility during my tour there last year. With my own money. All by myself.

I grabbed the first bottle out of the fridge and examined the label. Right there, across the main body label was the announcement Special Release. In  circular pattern, around the main logo was a quote from Henry David Thoreau:

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

An image of a pumpkin had within it at the bottom:

Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and clove) The neck band stated:Celebrate the bounty of harvest with this rich, malty ale brewed with pumpkin and flavored with spices to invoke the season of plenty.

The moment of truth had finally come. I popped the top (no twist-off) and began typing a this tale of beer and pumpkins and spices.

The beer poured with a nice, translucent brownish color, sort of like iced tea. The head rose up to about a half-inch and quickly settled down to about an eighth. Lots of large bubbles raced to the top and mixed with what little foam was left. The beer had a somewhat spicy aroma bring to mind scents of nutmeg and cinnamon.

The first sip exploded with a wondrous pumpkiny taste. Rich malts were immediately present as I was swallowing. A very nice sweetness permeated through the taste and made my tongue smile. There’s so much flavor in this beer that I didn’t know immediately how to put the tastes into words.

The spices were quite present but were not overbearing. It was almost as if they were sanded or had their sharp edges files down so that you wouldn’t cut your tongue on them. The malt was robust and  there was a lot of it in this beer and I could sense on the tongue that the liquid itself was slightly beefier than a “normal” beer. This beer tasted almost like a piece of pumpkin pie. All I needed was some whipped cream and Nirvana was sure to arrive.

This is not necessarily a “big beer,” coming in at a measly 8% ABV (pfft!) but, man, this beer had a lot of body to it. The malts were rich and full and the spices blended to make a superb drink very suitable for the Thanksgiving repast. It would be interesting to compare this beer side by side with an actual piece of pumpkin pie. Jeeze, my head would probably explode.

It’s funny that the aroma wasn’t a dead giveaway and reveal the real spicy pumpkin-ness of this beer. Instead, all that could be gathered from the initial whiffs were spice aromatics and maybe some cinnamon. But putting the proper ratios of spices, cinnamon and nutmeg combined with the malts used here, made for an extra special imbibement, yours truly will not soon forget. When this beer is all gone, I’ll be exactly like Oliver in this little video snippet.

The one thing that bums me out about this extra special beer is the fact that it’s not available anywhere around here. Brewed in St. Louis, this beer damn near runs like water in the taps of some homes out there. And since InBev bought out A-B, Schlafley’s market share has risen quite remarkably. But the other side of the coin reveals a that a special treat awaits me each year in St. Louis for our annual sojourn to the city with the stainless steel arch structure thing. And those Schnuck’s stores are everywhere.

Schlafly has shown that it cares about the beer it brews. All of their beer is craft beer and the brewery has survived through the highs and lows of being in Clydesdale country. Now would be the perfect time to drop by somewhere around the big city in Missouri and pick up a couple of sixers (Nay. A case!) of this really fine beverage. Highly recommended.

The SixPackTech ratings for Schlafly Pumpkin Ale are:

Taste: A > A piece o’ pumpkin pie in a glass.
Smoothness: A > Slicker than black ice at night.
Drinkability: A > Yes, all the edges have been sanded down.
Bang for the buck: A > A fair price to pay for what you get.
ABV: 8.0%
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Smells beery…but I’m getting nutmeg? (sip) Wow! Real spicy. I don’t care for it. (sip) Too much nutmeg and nutmeg’s a really heavy spice to begin with. (sip) It’s a real heavy…heavy beer. (Thank you Julia Child for your input on spice weights.)

BeerAdvocate rates
RateBeer rates
BarBEERians rates
Schlafly Brewery website and their Wikipedia entry

Schlafly beer appreciation

Boo loves his Schlafly

And just so you don’t have to search for it, here’s this video again.

Schlafly documentary









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