04 October 2017


I'm stealing a march on the encroaching winter with a couple of seasonal beers from Brooklyn Brewing, designed for the darker end of the year. Both are from last year's crop, found in the bargain bin at the supermarket back in the spring and consumed at the height of summer. It would have been a bit weird to publish this post then, however.

First out is Insulated, a dark lager. It's certainly dark: only when held up to the light does it turn out to be a very deep, clear garnet rather than black. The head on top is creamy and almost stoutlike, and there's a roasted bitter quality to the aroma that adds to that impression. The flavour is quite plain, lager-clean, I guess. There's a touch of autumnal fruit, blackberry in particular, a herbal liquorice bitterness, and then that dry roasted bite to finish. This one is more about the feel than the flavour: it's big-bodied, satisfying and filling, engineered to be comforting without boosting the ABV to an unreasonable, unsessionable, level. At 5.6% it's just big enough to add a little warmth to the drinker's life. Plain and honest dark lagers are too thin on the ground around here so it's great to have this one.

Next it's the inevitable pumpkin beer, the butt of many a beer joke but presumably still the backbone of lots of American breweries' seasonal ranges. Brooklyn's, which has been around for quite a while now, is called Post Road, presumably after the colonial-era highway that ran between New York and Boston.

Top marks, once again, for appearances: it's a perfect crystalline orange-amber shade, looking like a liquid pumpkin in my rounded glass. Pumpkins don't really taste of anything so I can't say there's much of a pumpkin element; the main feature is the nutmeg: front and centre in both the flavour and aroma. Behind this is a suitably autumnal crust of brown sugar, and there may even have been some hops, but they have since gone away. Surprisingly for this sort of seasonal there's very little malt character, giving it a thin and watery finish. The basic requirements of pumpkin ale are met, and I'm sure it does well for the brewery commercially, but it's really not a very interesting beer, nor satisfying to drink.

Dark lager is superior to pumpkin beer: you heard it here first, folks.

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