October 4, 2013

What Ales You: In October, pumpkin beers compete for attention

Pumpkinhead is Shipyard’s most profitable beer, and other companies have jumped into the market.

By Tom Atwell

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Harpoon’s Pumpkin UFO is one of four seasonal brews given a taste test.

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It is 4.2 percent alcohol and made with organic sugar pumpkins and fairly light on the spices, and is $8.99 for a 22-ounce bottle.

NANCY’S SISTER, Martha, who lives in Tampa, sent two 750-milliliter bottles of Cigar City beer ahead of her when she came to visit last month. Cigar City has developed a superb reputation, and is not available in Maine.

Marshal Zukhov’s Imperial Stout, at 11 percent alcohol, is black and thick. When son-in-law Christian first tasted it he said, “Motor oil.” For me and most of the other tasters, it was too intense for a relaxed kind of party. It grew on Christian, and he ended up slowly sipping his glass for a couple of hours. It is a beer you have to take your time with.

The Last Spike is a collaboration between Cigar City and Coronado Brewing Company in California, brewed to recognize the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. This was another big beer, a mix of California Common Ale – think Anchor Steam – and an American IPA, at 7.4 percent alcohol. It is quite hoppy, but still easy drinking, and we all enjoyed it.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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