Archive | October, 2012

7 pumpkin beers for your Halloween festivities

30 Oct

It’s All Hallows’ Eve, and that means the ghosts and goblins will be out in force tomorrow. So whether you are enjoying a fall evening handing out candy to trick or treaters on your front porch or dressing up for a costume party, you will want to celebrate with a pumpkin beer. Here are seven pumpkin beers to try this Halloween.

1) Pumking by Southern Tier is one of the most hallowed (sorry, I couldn’t resist) pumpkin beers available. It is the essence of what a pumpkin beer should be. It pours a hazy orange-copper, and is pumpkin pie in a bottle. Lots of pumpkin and spice to this one, and weighing in at 8.6%, it’s a sipper. If you only try one pumpkin beer this fall, this is it.

Southern Tier Pumking

2) Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head is another autumn favorite by craft beer lovers. This one is a full bodied brown ale with hints of pumpkin, spices and brown sugar. Another one that’s a must-try.

Dogfish Head Punkin

3) Fat Jack by Sam Adams is a dark amber ale brewed with 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel. It’s got a hint of smokiness to it and is chock full of classic pumpkin pie spices. This one was a pleasant surprise for me, and I can gladly recommend it.

Samuel Adams Fat Jack

4) Terrapin Pumpkinfest is actually a lager, not an ale, which is different from most pumpkin beers. It pours a dark orange and has lots of pumpkin spice with a medium body and creamy finish. It’s as if Terrapin married an Oktoberfest and a pumpkin ale, and it actually works.

Terrapin Pumpkinfest

5) Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard is not to be confused with Pumpkinhead by the same brewery. These two beers are very different, with Smashed Pumpkin being a real winner. It pours a light orange and has lots of pumpkin flavor with little of the traditional spice. This one is a big beer, weighing in at 9.0%, and is for the beer drinker who doesn’t want his or her beer overpowered by cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and the like. This one took me by surprise, especially since I didn’t care for their Pumpkinhead brew.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

6) La Parcela by Jolly Pumpkin is not your typical pumpkin beer. It has pumpkin in it, but this is a sour beer aged in oak barrels. This is not liquid pumpkin pie by any stretch. If you’re a fan of sours, give this one a try this fall.

Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela

7) Saint Arnold Pumpkinator is my personal favorite pumpkin beer. Rather than an amber or a brown ale, Pumpkinator is a big imperial stout with lots of pumpkin and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. This one is tough to come by, so if you see it, make sure you get some. It’s also a great beer to age.

Saint Arnold Pumpkinator

I’ve listed seven pumpkin beers for you to try. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comment section.






Ginormous Bottle Share

27 Oct


A ginormous bottle share this afternoon. What a great time.

FORGE Battlefield 10K: Running Trails & Drinking Ales

19 Oct

The 4th and final race in the 2012 FORGE Trail Series took place on Saturday October 13th, and it was a beautiful day for a race. The Battlefield 10K was held at the Port Hudson state historic site just north of Baton Rouge. I got a later start than I’d hoped, but arrived a bit before sunrise to help with setup ahead of the 8:30 start. My two daughters were to run the Kidz one mile race, and defend their titles as 1st and 3rd place girl finishers from last year.

And they’re off!

My youngest was initially determined to run the entire course on her own, but shortly before the start, she decided that she wanted daddy with her as she ran. We got some last minute race instructions about ghosts and R.O.U.S.’s (you know, Rodents of Unusual Size), lined up, and the firing of two muskets signaled the start. My 9 year old took off and it wasn’t long before I lost sight of her while hanging back with my soon to be 6 year old. She ran over half a mile non-stop before we hit a hill and she needed to walk a bit. From then on, we ran the flats and walked the hills. It really was a fun way to warm up for my race and see those little legs churning as we ran through the woods on the trails. Soon enough we popped out of the woods and headed toward the finish. She ran that 1.15 mile course in 14:10, good enough for 3rd place girl. And my oldest finished 1st in 11:32. Talk about a proud dad!

My oldest on her way to victory!

My kids dominated!

After the last kid finished, the rest of us lined up for the 10K. We were off with a loop around the battlefield before heading into the woods.

Getting started

The first mile plus was flat, and my pace was just under 6:30 as I hung back a bit. We then hit a few hills which slowed the pace some as we had to climb a bit, and I was feeling that first fast mile, and by the second mile split, I had slowed to a 7:15 pace. But that would get even slower in the next mile. There was a treacherous section, aptly named Certain Death at a turnaround point. The trail narrowed to a thread, with a big dropoff to the right and tough downhill footing over rocks and a downed tree. We then had to scramble back up a makeshift trail back to the main trail and head back towards the big loop. This was my slowest mile at 7:53.

The toughest section

After heading back to the main trail, I was able to pick the pace back up and settle in for a 6:50 mile on a relatively flat section. By this point, I was able to pass several people and the lead female and I played leapfrog a bit from midway through the 4th mile until the end of the race. The 5th mile featured a lot of uphill sections that slowed me down a good bit and had my lungs screaming as I was determined not to get passed at such a late point in the race. But I felt good going up those hills and concentrated on my breathing, which really seems to help me in that stage of a tough run. I tend to naturally revert to short shallow breaths, and by focusing on slow deep breaths, I’m able to ignore some of the pain of the uphills and gain ground. After what seemed like an eternity of uphill sections, we finally made it to the familiar section I had run during the Kidz mile, so I knew the end was near. We broke out from the woods, and I sprinted to the finish in a time of 41:03, good enough for 7th overall and 1st place in my age group. The course was a bit short, at 5.8 miles, but that’s to be expected in a trail race, and I was very happy with my average pace of 7:05 on a hilly trail.

It really is amazing how many runners, especially trail runners, are also craft beer fans. One of them brought a 5 gallon keg of homebrewed ESB, which we made short work of. There were no fewer than 9 runners there that also homebrew, and it we had a great discussion about what we are brewing, what we are drinking, and our future homebrew plans. The age group winners all took home a plaque as well as a six pack of Bayou Teche Biere Pale, a locally brewed pale ale.

Official results are here.

It was a great day for a race and a fantastic setting. Thanks to Jeff Beck for putting it on and all the volunteers and sponsors that made it happen. This was truly a race for “running trails and drinking ales!”

FORGE Racing ambassadors are full of awesome

A successful day

Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout

17 Oct

Primary fermentation has finished on my homebrewed stout, and this evening I transferred it to secondary along with a pound (yes, a pound) of powdered peanut butter and 4 ounces of cocoa nibs. 4 more ounces of cocoa will be added this weekend, then I’ll bottle the following weekend.

The hydrometer sample was pretty tasty, I must say. And that’s without the peanut butter or cocoa. Really excited to see how this turns out.



15 Oct


It’s Saint Arnold Pumpkinator release day. October 15th is the day the highly anticipated (and limited) Pumpkinator is released. Many a mad dash are made to secure this imperial pumpkin stout.

Go get some now, before it’s gone. I’ve got a few.


Beer of the Week: NOLA Hopitoulas

12 Oct


In honor of the release this week of NOLA Hopitoulas in tallboy cans, this West Coast style IPA is the Beer of the Week. NOLA Brewing combines 6 malts and 6 hops to create this hoppy, yet wonderfully balanced India Pale Ale. With notes of citrus and pine, this is a great example of the style and is a great introduction to those who are looking to try their first IPA.

Look for these in 16 ounce cans at your favorite grocer or on draft at your local restaurant or watering hole. It made my week to finally be able to get Hopitoulas in cans to enjoy at home, or while tailgating.

Hoppy Friday, and enjoy your weekend.

Nice touch on the race bib, no?

10 Oct


The Gulf Coast Half Marathon is Sunday morning in Mandeville and I picked up my race shirt and bib today. I like the name on it. Appropriate, don’t you think?

Coming in December: Parish Grand Reserve

4 Oct

Parish Brewing is known in south Louisiana for their Canebrake wheat ale. But in December, fans will get a taste of a different kind. That’s when their Grand Reserve, a barleywine weighing in around 10-11% ABV, is scheduled to be released.

I’ve had the opportunity to taste this at the brewery when it was about 2 months old. It was really tasty then, despite being a young beer at the time. It should be even better come December, and will only get better with age.

Every market they are distributed in will get some of these 750 ml bottles, but quantities will be limited, as only 1,300 bottles were produced. There will be some limited draft offerings as well.

Be sure to grab a bottle for now and a bottle to age when you see this in December!


October means pumpkin beer!

1 Oct

Today is October 1st, and fittingly, the mercury didn’t even reach 70 degrees here in south Louisiana. So what better way to celebrate the turning of the calendar than with a pumpkin beer?

Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin is an ale brewed with 28 pounds of pumpkin per barrel. It pours a deep ruby color and cinnamon and allspice are detected on the nose. It has a nice pumpkin taste that isn’t overpowered by the spices and has a hint of smokiness to it. The finish is warming, but not boozy, despite the 8.5% ABV.

It’s a good effort from them, as I’m typically underwhelmed by most Sam Adams offerings. I’ll call this a 3 1/2 out of 5 bottle caps. I’m enjoying this one on the front porch as my wife cooks the first gumbo of the season. Aaahhh…fall.


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