Before we get into the beer here, I’d like to make a quick PSA: GET TO KNOW YOUR SERVER. Or your server’s manager/beer ordering person, if possible. (Tip them well, too – they’re bringing you your drinks!)
The reason? As much as I love Old Chicago, I get frustrated sometimes that the beer doesn’t rotate all that often, so that it feels like the selection is fairly stagnant. Here’s the thing, though: it isn’t. Apparently. It’s just that the really good fun stuff is often not mentioned (um, anywhere), so you’ve got to get to know your server/manager/etc. in order to figure out what they’ve got that isn’t being advertised.
Case in point is this effing fantastic Schlafly Pumpkin, whose existence I was sadly unaware of until Mom and I had been talking beer with a manager (Brian, who was awesome) for a solid 15 minutes on a quiet Sunday afternoon. So folks, they have this beer at Old Chicago at 119th and Metcalf. If you do nothing else this week, GO HAVE SOME. It’ll come in a 10 oz pour because this stuff, baby, it’s strong.
Name: Special Release Pumpkin Ale
Origin: St. Louis Brewery/Schlafly Tap Room
Style: Pumpkin Ale
I drank this: on tap at Old Chicago, Overland Park, KS
I have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin ales. When they’re good, they’re really awesome. When they’re bad, they’re heartbreaking because I was hoping for something good. The bad ones tend not to have any real discernible pumpkin flavor and tend to leave a sort of funky quasi-clove-y aftertaste.
This is one of the good ones. The very, very good ones. This beer is a medium amber color with absolutely zero head. It smells like pumpkin pie – all the warm and nommy fall spices with a very strong underlying pumpkin base. I couldn’t even smell the malts they used – this is all pumpkin pie.
It’s lightly carbonated, initially sharp on the tongue but also creamy – it has a nice clove/allspice/nutmeg/cinnamon spice blend and a strong pumpkin flavor. You know, like pumpkin pie. It’s a sweet beer, but not sugary/sticky sweet. There’s something slightly dry about it in the back, not quite hoppy, but enough to keep me from feeling like I’ve just downed a bunch of sugar.
The end of my notes on this sum up the experience nicely: this stuff is stupid awesome. Just drink it – you won’t be disappointed.