Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TBG Drinks: Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale

Brewed By: Buffalo Bill's Brewery
Brewed In: Hayward, California
Type: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.2%

What They Say: "It is believed that George Washington brewed beer using this bright orange squash. In modern times, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale is a true original microbrew that uses baked and roasted pumpkins. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are added to create what has been described as 'pumpkin pie in a bottle'."

Website: Beginning with the main page and extending into several of the site's links, there's an excessively busy amount of moving text and pictures that accompany almost every mouse click. This really shouldn't annoy me as much as it does, but the cumulative effect on my tired eyes is similar to the hapless victim in this four-second clip. The "Brewery" section includes profiles of Buffalo Bill's five seasonal brews (including brief specifics on the malts and hops used). The obligatory pub menu is a glorious homage to enormous portions -- Jambalaya pizza? Yes, please! -- but, the site's "About" area seems to WAY overstate the brewpub's impact on the national microbrew movement.

Why I Picked It: Ever since I was a morbidly-obese, yet undeniably adorable That Bootleg Boy, I've had a taste for the ubiquitous flavor of pumpkin (pie mix). Like the rest of you, it started with pumpkin pie, but soon expanded to include additional desserts, such as pumpkin bread, pumpkin pudding and Baskin-Robbins pumpkin ice cream. (Of course, real pumpkins aren't especially appetizing. I don't understand the allure of pumpkin seeds and the gourd's squishy insides are the overriding reason why -- in my house -- pumpkin carving is Mrs. Bootleg's duty.)


Presentation (5): I like the cornball "comic book cover" font used on the label. It fits with the back-patting "America's Original" appellation, even though it might've made more sense to feature the brewery's name a bit more prominently on the bottle. The squiggly label art featuring one pumpkin enveloped within a large, leafy pillow appears to have been drawn by this cult-favorite animator. 3

Originality (5): When America's first president is referenced in your product's promotional material, it's safe to assume pumpkin ale isn't an especially groundbreaking brew. In fact, the one constant among commercial brewers who produce pumpkin ale is to highlight the libation's 200+ year history. You're no
Ra's al Ghul, Pumpkin Ale. Not even close. 1

Body (10): I've long been opposed to the "foods as colors" faction in the world of fashion. (That turtleneck isn't "chocolate", it's "dark brown".) But, in keeping with the seasonal theme, I'll concede that Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale pours a light, uhh…pumpkin color with a very thin head. The heavy carbonation keeps the contents agitated, but lacking in substance without any mouthfeel worth mentioning. 4

Taste (10): There are several pumpkin-based beers on the market this time of year. Buffalo Bill's is distinctive in that much more emphasis is placed on the spice flavors (nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves) than on the pumpkin notes. There's a very mild sweetness that successfully undercuts the more pronounced flavors, allowing the company's "pumpkin pie in a bottle" claims to ring true. Not much complexity in the taste, but if you like pumpkin mix… 9

Efficiency (10): The ABV is only 0.2 points higher than Budweiser, Coors or Miller. As a measuring stick, the comparison is pretty accurate. Anyone not turned off by the oversimplified flavors should be able to take on several 12-ounce bottles at the same rate as any of the traditional domestic brews. 6

Versatility (10): This is a basic beer with specific limits. Those of you into food pairings won't find many entrees to tag team with this. As a casual or social beer, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale is almost certainly going to fall on either side of the love it/hate it fence. There are more nuanced pumpkin brews on the market, but as a starter squash beer, this is plenty acceptable. 5

Grade: 28 (out of 50) -- Good Beer

The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.

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