Friday, October 31, 2008

Ding, dong, the Zima's dead, the Zima's dead, the Zima's dead, ding dong, the wicked Zima's dead...

I rarely rejoice in anything dying, but MillerCoors has announced that Zima will no longer be produced. I am pretty sure that Zima was the first malternative to hit the big time market. I so remember making fun of anyone in college drinking this stuff. It was schilled as a clear, light, and refreshing alternative to beer. In reality it was an alcoholic soda pop. I remember trying it once, admittedly after my tastebuds were well shot from some kind of awful keg dispensed American lager and thinking this tastes like Sprite. Unfortunately it has been replaced by the likes of the Smirnoff Ice and Raw Tea, which are pretty much identical to Zima (they contain no vodka - they are just branded with the Smirnoff name).

I completely understand if you don't like beer, but there has to be an alternative to the malternative. Oh well, at least Zima is gone. Maybe Coors Light will go really is a malternative for those that don't like the taste of beer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin beer, not just for dessert anymore...

I have never really been a huge fan of pumpkin beers. I spend most of my fall absorbing as many Oktoberfests beers and autumn ales as possible. I love the rich malty smoothness of Oktoberfest beers...Hacker Pschorr, Sam Adams, Brooklyn, Geary's Autumn Ale and of course der Konig of them all, Ayinger Oktoberfest.

However, over the last couple of years I have dabbled in pumpkin ales and I have to say I am a convert. I don't really go for those super-sweet, over-spiced, run of the mill pumpkins, but I have found a couple of outrageously good ones. Southern Tier Imperial Pumking is truly amazing. I bought one early last fall and it converted me like Saul being struck from his horse with a flying pumpkin. It is a whopping 9% of early fall warming greatness and smells like a fresh pumpkin muffin. I couldn't drink more than one of these 22oz bad boys, but it is extremely enjoyable as a dessert beer. It is much more complex and certainly more drinkable than I had imagined.

On the other hand, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale might just be the only sessionable pumpkin beer I have ever tried. It is not over spiced and has a remarkable earthy kind of raw pumpkin flavor with a super smooth maltiness and a nice touch of hops to boot. This beer looks like autumn too--it pours a beautiful orangish color with a thin white head. Simply put, this beer smells amazing too. I just paired one up with a fresh batch of Trader Joe's pumpkin bread (and I threw in some semi-sweet chocolate chips for good measure--into the bread that is). I am so tempted to go double up on both right now.

Drop a comment and let me know some of your favorite pumpkin beers, I am interested in finding some additional good options. Enjoy the fall weather and cheers.