Halloween already seems like so long ago, so I realise the first part of this post may not seem relevant.
However, I've been trying and failing to get my hands on Trouble Brewing's Pumpkin Brew for the past three years, so I'm not prepared tothroughoutoutis go.
It appeared on tap in the Bierhaus, so off I went. Woody and grainy is the order of the day, with a biscuit malt backbone propping up a light spice character of cinnamon and even a hint of milk chocolate. It's drinkable and surpisingly refreshing, but runs into the same problem you come across in all pumpkin beers; it is, by definition, a pumpkin beer. I know, it's Halloween and all that, but do we need this style of beer to stick around? I mean, pumpkin barely even has a flavour, all we get are poor to decent ales with pumpkin pie allspice chucked in. I think I'm over pumpkin beers, however 'good' some of them are compared to others.
I was eyeing up another tap on the bar, one from Sierra Nevada. Everything they brew is hopped enthusiastically, so the chance to try their take on a Märzen was appealing. Oktoberfest pours mahogany in colour and has plenty of dark malt aroma to match. Sticky syrupy toffee malts appear here and again on the palate, with a light milk chocolate and slightly raisiny detail going on. There's even some of that Tootsie Roll sweetness in there, and absolutely no sign of hops. It's nice enough, but I think I would prefer my Märzen to be more drinkable; the chewiness and weight of this is greater than it should be, and the malts too dark and burnt. Nevertheless, worth a try.
Another American Märzen comes from Sam Adams, their Octoberfest pouring a good few shades lighter than the Sierra Nevada. This is a toffee malt bomb - no - a toffee malt pop, seeing as it lacks the intensity of an explosive doppelbock. Still, it's toffee with grainy biscuit and an uncomplicated sweetness throughout. Definitely more drinkable than the Chico offering, but not half as interesting. And that's saying something.
Finally, to Anchor. The label and name alone is enough to pull me into Big Leaf Maple, not to mention my love for maple syrup. As expected, this amber beer has sweet caramel and toffee malt strong on the nose, but a pleasant surprise is its herbal, floral hoppiness keeping things alive. The taste is the same, with the added syrup making itself known in the sugary toffee backbone, but a very light pithy hop note tries ever so hard to be heard over the sweet noise. It's a drinkable beer, and a nice experience on the whole, but as with the other three, it lacks any real memorable character.
Thanks, October, it's been fun. But now we move swiftly on.