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Monday, October 13, 2014

Slapshot Brewing's Gourd Damn

  • Style: Spiced Pumpkin Ale (yeah, you heard me.  I drank a pumpkin ale.  Stop judging me.)
  • ABV: 7.00%
  • Ease to locate: Slapshot has just begun their distribution. Regular beers will be canned.  I'll pause until your grateful cries of rejoicing have ended.  (We good now?  Awesome.) Special one offs like this will be in bombers. You should be able to locate them around Chicago in craft stores.  I'm also hearing rumors of a Tradewinds Rum barreled entry of Gourd Damn at this year's FOBAB (gourd dayum indeed!)  Here's a link to their Beer Menu Page
  • Color: Amber brown with red & orange highlights
  • Head: Just a half a finger of off white  head that falls fast.  No lacing to speak of.
  • Aroma: Spices up front.  Lots of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg on the nose.  A little pumpkin character layered under.  Pleasant and Fall-like.
  • Mouthfeel: Light to Medium body, without being watery, with a nice bitter dryness
  • Finish: Medium to slightly long.  Begins with the spice to the more savory leaning pumpkin to a little herbal bitterness on the end.  
  • Food friendly?: Hmmm....that's a tough one.  I would prefer to drink a beer like this on it's own.  If I had to pair it with food, I'd try it with a salty snack, such as roasted pumpkin seeds or spiced nuts.  The more adventurous among you should pair it with grilled poultry in a brown sugar barbeque sauce
Apple User's Link: Do you believe in miracles?

                                                                                              The fact that I willingly drank and enjoyed a pumpkin beer is a miracle of  Olympic proportions, indeed.

I am almost ashamed to admit this, but up until to last year, I kind of , sort of, possibly in the nicest way, absolutely hated hockey.  OK. Hate is a very strong word.  Despised, maybe? Desperately avoided, certainly.  I somehow resisted the charms of what is basically rugby on ice for various (read: stupid) reasons for so long.  Until I didn't.  Because I realized that these supposed reasons were really just prejudices that I had made up in my own head.  And all that those idiotic notions really accomplished was to keep me from enjoying something awesome.  So I gave in.  A bit trepidatiously at first.  A period here.  A practice session there. Questions, questions, questions to anyone with any sort of hockey knowledge who was naive enough to answer my texts. It wasn't until I found myself streaming at work the Swedish Olympic team playing the Ukrainian Olympic team that I was fully able to admit that, yes.  Yes.  I am a hockey fan.  Now substitute "Pumpkin beers" for hockey and you'll get some idea of where I'm going with this.  Slapshot Brewery is a relatively new brewery here in Chicago and are just beginning to can/bottle their beers for distribution (you've been able to score their beers on tap here and there for almost a year now.)   They have very cool brewery hockey jerseys.  And I like their beer philosophy of just making solid, balanced, tasty brews (screw the IBU count and ABV percentage.  They care more about how the beer tastes.)  So when they informed the public that they were releasing a pumpkin beer this season, I suspect that you know exactly what my now, hockey enlightened, response was.  "Hell no!  Pumpkin beers are disgusting!" 

 I told you that I was slow to accept the inevitable. 

My Gourd Damn poured a amber brown liquid with with orange red tints towards the edges.  While not exactly hazy, light can be seen through it, it was a solid looking brew.  A slight, half a finger head of just off white foam fell quickly to a spotty surface covering.  I didn't notice any lacing at all, but it did create a ring that lasted most of the drink.  Since my experience with pumpkin beers is somewhat limited, and actually finishing a glass is pretty much zilch, I'm not sure if this lack of lacing is an attribute of this beer style.  I'm happy to say that the nose more than made up for the lack of lace.  I was expecting a sweet, creamy, OK I'll just say it, a wet pumpkin smell.  You know, that aroma of a just carved jack-o-lantern.  I was pleasantly surprised that the very first scent  that I caught was a mixture of baking spices.  I could pick out cinnamon (a lot of cinnamon), ginger, cloves and nutmeg.  There is a slight note of pumpkin  on the nose, but less of the wet variety and more of a pie sort of scent.  Now, I like pumpkin pie.  Come every fourth Thursday in November, I love pumpkin pie.  Suddenly I saw promise in this snifter.  The taste followed the nose.  I found the nicely balanced spice mixture towards the front of the swallow with the brown sugar baked pumpkin character appearing towards the middle.  There was a bitterness that struck me as medicinal herbal bitterness at the very end of the mouthful.  To me this worked to keep the drink from becoming a spicy, sweet, pumpkin novelty.  I recommend letting this beer warm in your glass.  As the Gourd Damn opened, I found that the spice elements really came out to play and that medicinal note blended nicely with the Autumn fruit character.  A light to medium body enhanced the flavor profile (again, I was dreading a creamy, sticky mouthfeel and was relived to find it otherwise.)  I enjoyed the surprising dryness that assured me that Gourd Damn was never intended to be a dessert beer.  This was a very easy drinking anytime ale.  The finish was medium to long.  It began with the baking spice notes, which moved to the brown sugar pumpkin pie character, and ended with the bitter herbal dryness. 

I suspect that most pumpkin beers are difficult to pair with food.  The sweet and still savory mixture of this particular pumpkin beer assists greatly in the decision of what kind of food to serve along side of it.  Personally, I'd rather drink Slapshot Brewing's Gourd Damn all by it's lonesome self.  This isn't a desert beer by any means.  It's not overly sweet nor is it hearty like so many other brews that I consider to be "desert beers."  I would drink this beer with some easy snacks, such as Roasted Spiced Nuts & Pumpkin Seeds.  The balanced spices and herbal bitterness of this beer will compliment the savory nuts in a way that your typical IPA or Stout might not.  Since the sweetness of this beer is only slight, you can also easily pair this pumpkin beer with Chicken Wings Glazed With Brown Sugar Barbeque Sauce.  Quite honestly, both recipes would be just about perfect for your next tailgate hockey game.  Wait.  What do you mean there's no tailgating at hockey games?  

I may have to rethink certain attributes of the puck life.