Every year, it seems the whole world goes gourd crazy, compulsively putting pumpkin into everything from Jello and cookies to pretzels and even Spam.
Although most of us opt for putting pumpkin in our morning coffee, some brewers in Northern Virginia are kicking it up a notch this season by infusing pumpkin into everything from saisons to stouts. While there are plenty of pumpkin products to pass on, these pumpkin beers aren’t something to let slip through your fingers. Check out the autumnally inspired creations from Northern Virginia’s stellar breweries.
Remember to always drive responsibly, and don’t forget to invite a designated driver.
Punk Monk Pumpkin Ale — The leadoff hitter in this pumpkin powerhouse lineup is the Punk Monk Pumpkin Ale from Barrel Oak Winery and Brewery. Fans will recall Barrel Oak’s recent release of Hail to the Harris, brewed in tribute to billionaire investor Josh Harris, who purchased the Washington Commanders last summer from Dan Snyder. Now, Barrel Oak is shaking up its fall tap list with yet another release: the Punk Monk.
“Punk Monk Pumpkin Ale is the rebellious monk’s answer to fall festivities,” says Robert Grouge, general manager at Barrel Oak. The new brew follows the time-tested tradition of Abbey-style ales typically found in Belgium (which have been brewed since the Middle Ages) but with a punk makeover. The 7 percent alcohol by volume beer artfully pairs a healthy helping of pumpkin puree with clove, cinnamon, and a touch of vanilla for an ale you won’t want to miss. But you won’t have to cloister yourself to get a taste of this pumpkin elixir — Barrel Oak will serve fresh pints in its taproom and sell cans, in case you want to savor the season at home. 3623 Grove Ln., Delaplane
Pumpkin Eater Saison — It’s no secret that the folks over at Chubby Squirrel Brewing Company love fall, and this year, they’re bringing back a fan favorite: the Pumpkin Eater Saison. Before turning your nose up at this peculiar concoction, grab one and give it a good whiff (and maybe even a sip). Not only does this farmhouse-style ale pack quite the punch at 8.6 percent ABV, but it’s also packed to the brim with fall flavors.
“The Pumpkin Eater Saison is a truly modern take on a beer you know and love,” says Joshua Paine, head brewer at the Chubby Squirrel. The process starts by combining Munich and caramel malts with a touch of wheat and brown sugar. Then, fall spices are added to the mixture — lots of fall spices. For every gallon of Pumpkin Eater Saison, Chubby Squirrel adds enough spices to make an entire pumpkin pie. The Chubby Squirrel will serve pints of Pumpkin Eater while supplies last, and cans will be available for purchase. “Now you can have your pie and eat it too,” says Paine. 10382 Willard Way, Fairfax
How Now Brown Cow Pumpkin Spice Milk Stout — Aslin Brewing is renowned in Northern Virginia for its consistently spectacular beer, particularly IPAs. But this fall, Aslin is rebooting its popular milk stout series with a notable pumpkin inclusion: How Now Brown Cow Pumpkin Spice Milk Stout. Past iterations in this series have included sticky flavors, like maple and bacon, or peanut butter and chocolate. But this time around, Aslin went all out for fall.
The 6 percent ABV milk stout, an already sumptuous beer brewed with toasted malts and lactose, adds heaps of pumpkin and vanilla into the mix. The result is a thick, smooth beer that emanates the essence of autumn. Aslin will serve pints of How Now Brown Cow at its Alexandria and Herndon locations while supplies last, as well as cans to go. 847 S. Pickett St., Alexandria; 767 Elden St., Herndon
Sorrow (Maple Bourbon Barrel Aged) Barleywine — Despite the missing pumpkin bona fides, Ocelot Brewing’s Sorrow is worth mentioning. Exhumed from a two-year slumber in retired bourbon barrels, this delectable barleywine perfectly toes the line between substantive and sweet.
Though its name indicates otherwise, barleywine is not, in fact, wine but a high-ABV beer that first appeared in the late 1800s. Ocelot’s barleywine builds on this tradition with an ABV of 13.3 percent and tasting notes of oak, vanilla, and marshmallow, which effortlessly mingle on the palate. At the finish, you’ll identify the brew’s age by its sherry, coffee, and maple notes. Get this one before it’s gone. 23600 Overland Dr., Ste. 180, Dulles
Pumpkin Patches — For the final beer in the lineup, we recommend making the scenic drive out to Bear Chase Brewing Company in Bluemont to get a taste of Pumpkin Patches. Though once obsolete, this style of brew, a 5.5 percent ABV pumpkin beer, has witnessed a noteworthy resurgence in the pumpkin-crazed era.
Located on the western edge of Loudoun County, Bear Chase is perched along a mountain ridge where guests can relax while taking in the stunning views of Virginia’s hunt country. And what better way to do it than with a pint of Pumpkin Patches? Bear Chase takes fresh pumpkins grown at nearby Great Country Farms and roasts them to perfection with brown sugar.
Fans on Untappd are raving: “This may be the best local pumpkin ale all I’ve tried this season,” writes one Untappd user, while another says Pumpkin Patches has the “mouthfeel of an autumn chill.” Get there fast to enjoy this no-frills pumpkin beer. 33665 Bear Chase Ln., Bluemont
Feature image courtesy Barrel Oak Winery and Brewery
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