Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkinfest at The Institute

Last year, Jo and I attended the pumpkinfest at the Devil's Den which while fun mostly ended up with me trying two and then heading out since the list wasn't super interesting. While I never expected attending a pumpkinfest to be a yearly event, guess we've made it so after this past Saturday. This year we went to The Institute which had a very extensive list of pumpkin beers and a full pumpkin menu. The list numbered around 24 beers but the bar only has 16 taps so it meant that to try everything I wanted to on the list I had to be lucky. And, for the most part, I actually was although I did miss out on a couple. Gives me something to look forward to next year!

I started with a glass of Bavarian Barbarian Grumpy Pumpkin, a pumpkin porter. I've been seeing the brewer tweeting about brewing this and was really excited to try it.
Interesting brown color with a slightly muddy appearance. Smelled slightly sour although I think it was slightly in my imagination. Tasted of vanilla and roast with a small cinnamon finish. As I drank more the cinnamon grew and the vanilla lessened. I really enjoyed this one and was glad it was on tap when we arrived.

Up next was the Flying Dog The Fear, an imperial pumpkin brewed with some chocolate malt which I believe is what gives it the dark appearance.
Smelled of sweet dark fruit. Unfortunately the taste didn't follow at all. I got a dry, slightly odd flavor from it with very little pumpkin or spices. Some cinnamon started to come through as I got used to the other flavors but neither Jo nor I enjoyed it. Ah well.

However, the next totally made up for it and even Jo, who doesn't really like pumpkin beers, enjoyed it. That was the Williamsburg AleWerks Pumpkin.
The first and only of the bunch I drank that was a straight forward pumpkin beer. It smelled like a pumpkin pie and the taste followed. It was pretty sweet with cinnamon, cloves, and a dry pumpkin finish. The spices were present through the whole glass but never became the complete focal point, keeping mostly in balance with the actual beer. Definitely a great pumpkin beer.

Finally we come to the main reason I was excited for pumpkinfest, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Brew Works Devious Imperial Pumpkin.
I was lucky to have been able to try this as two different kegs kicked just before we were planning on heading out leaving a spot for this one. Smelled of sweet bourbon with some of the pumpkin base poking through. No mistaking that it was bourbon aged though. Started with some sweetness and pumpkin flavors, then a huge wave of bourbon followed. Luckily there wasn't any heat in the bourbon, but man it was bourbony. As I drank more of it, I got used to the bourbon flavor a bit which allowed some of the cinnamon and cloves to come out of hiding but for the most part the barrel aging definitely overwhelmed the base beer. Not bad, but I prefer beers like this to be a little more balanced although with something light like a pumpkin beer it can sometimes be difficult.

So that was pumpkinfest at The Institute. There were a ton of people there even by the time we arrived at 1pm but luckily they had blocked off the street and had a large number of tables outside so we didn't have to stand for long. Unluckily, the crowd was much, much larger than they expected so the staff was a little overwhelmed, but they handled it pretty well. Pretty sure the crowds kept up throughout the whole event, too, as I saw a tweet from them the next day that they kicked 24 kegs. Really impressive. Definitely a pumpkin event I would do next year as the selection was great and the pumpkin mac & cheese was really delicious.

No comments:

Post a Comment