Very few people complain about seasonal creep—the term craft beer fans use for seasonal beers hitting the market earlier and earlier each year—when summer beers hit the shelves in April. No, the complaining is reserved for the time of the year with pumpkin beers start arriving on shelves in the dead heat of early August. “We’re not ready,” they cry to the beer gods. “Let us still have summer.”
Still, when fall beer hits, one of the yearly favorites is St. Louis stalwart Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale. It’s been awarded a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival and consistently finds itself on the annual lists of must-try pumpkin beers. This year, Schlafly added a small wrinkle to their annual release. In some six packs of Pumpkin Ale, there is a bottle of White Pumpkin Ale. Only one thousand of these elusive beers were produced, and with Schlafly distributing their beer into 14 states, finding one might be like locating the proverbial needle in the haystack. It’s worth the pursuit, because the resulting beer, which is lighter in color and lower in ABV, might be even better than the original.
White Pumpkin pours a hazy, golden hue with a full head of foam. It’s unlike most pumpkin beers this way, as most of them produce a color that more mirrors the color of a pumpkin—a burnt orange color that goes well on Halloween decorations.
You may have to get lucky to find a White Pumpkin Ale, but it’s worth the effort.”
Schlafly drinkers will recognize the cocktail of nutmeg and cinnamon in the nose, but what will be missing from White Pumpkin Ale is the sweet booziness of the original version. Rather, it’s a toned-down, subtle nose.
White Pumpkin falls directly in the middle, body-wise. While the notes of clove and nutmeg are present, they don’t dominate, but interact well with the delicacy of the flaked oats and pilsner malts. At 6% ABV, it’s palatable enough for a couple, but big enough to keep an outdoor fall drinking session going, despite the falling temperatures.
Whether it’s the obstinate refusal to accept the inevitability of autumn, the connotation some craft beer drinkers have about drinking something gimmicky or popular, or just a disapproval of the style, pumpkin beers have gotten a bad reputation. Put aside you preconceived notions for this beer. You may have to get lucky to find a White Pumpkin Ale, but it’s worth the effort.