There's a lot of pumpkin beer backlash in the beer community. But that doesn't bother me. I like this trend. Whether the beer is driven by spice, actual pumpkin or a combination of the two, the flavors of seasonal pumpkin beers get me in the mood for fall, even if we don't yet have the weather to match.
Largo's Barley Mow Brewing Company is hopping two trends with this year's annual release of Lord of the Gourd. It's a rich, pumpkin-spiced porter brewed with 600 pounds of pumpkin, and it's available in cans.
The two most common gripes regarding pumpkin ales are that they taste too sweet and artificial or, ironically, that they don't possess enough "pumpkin" flavor (usually meaning pumpkin spice, rather than actual pumpkin, which has a fairly mild flavor when added to beer). Lord of the Gourd falls squarely in the middle, with a smooth balance of nutty gourd flavor and notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and vanilla: a slice of pumpkin pie in every can.
The dark porter base provides a somewhat dry, roasty background for the pumpkin treatment, preventing the beer from becoming overwhelmed with the spices. Personally, I love the sickly sweet vanilla bombs that some purists turns their noses up at, but Lord of the Gourd is much more dialed back, which will please those who prefer a modicum of subtlety.
There are a lot of these kinds of beers on the shelves at the end of September, so why not pick up a local option, one that conveniently comes in a can? Barley Mow's Lord of the Gourd can sit with the best of them.
Justin Grant, Times correspondent