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It was impossible to not buy a sixer of Wasatch Brewery’s Black O’Lantern Pumpkin Stout when I saw it staring out at me from among a display of autumnal brews. The leering, glowing black jack o’lantern on the label is marketing genius. I want a t-shirt! The label calls out to shoppers whose eyes are already glazed over by the early glut of seasonal brews.
So taken with the label, I didn’t even think about how an imperial pumpkin stout might taste until I got the six-pack home. I’ve had pumpkin in all manner of beer, but I think this is my first pumpkin-imbued stout.
The pumpkin in this case appears to tamp down – or squash – the natural roastiness of a stout. It starts out as an extremely easy-drinking beer. The spicing is so subtle that I don’t detect it, other than a slight heat on the tongue and maybe the lingering dustiness of cinnamon. The mouthfeel is so soft it seems more like a highly flavored water than a stout.
And then I find the pumpkin, hanging in at the very end of each sip, taking over from the initial taste of dark chocolate, and becoming more apparent as the beer warms, of course. In trying to think of a single word to sum up the pumpkin flavor, I note a grimace on my face and the word “cloying” comes to mind, almost like too much candy corn at one sitting.
Yes, I guess I’ll leave it at that – Black O’Lantern Pumpkin Stout reminds me of liquid candy corn, and what that means really depends on how you feel about candy corn.
Still jonesing for a stout, I reached into the magic fridge and pulled out a Dubious Ruffian, a chocolate oatmeal stout from Badger State Brewing of Green Bay.
Oh, yeah! Big, big, big dark chocolate taste with an espresso backbite. The oats provide a silky mouthfeel and the maltiness oif Dubious Ruffian will make your lips stick together.