A Lusty Pumpkin Wheat and Volcanic Stout

This beer called to me for weeks before I finally broke down and bought a sixer. It just seemed a little too forward for my tastes – Pumpkin Pie Lust? Really?

Perhaps because I spent most of my childhood Thanksgivings at my maternal grandparents, and because I was fascinated by the amazing quality and quantity of food my grandmother turned out almost singlehandedly for our large family, and so would offer my meager services, and rolled many a pie crust out, equating pumpkin pie and lust initiated a gag reflex in me. Or maybe I was taking the concept too seriously.

Whatever the case, my curiosity about this beer finally overcame my gut reaction, largely because my brain took over. After all, this is from the New Glarus Brewing Co., which usually means something special.

Mad scientist/Brewmaster Dan Carey decided to see how pumpkin and traditional pumpkin pie spices would fare in a wheat beer, and, voila, Pumpkin Weiss was born!

I love this beer in so many ways. It does have all those pumpkin pie flavors, but wrapped inside of the dominant wheaty tang of a Weiss. All of the exotic flavors that any kid who helped his grandmother bake pumpkin pies for the family gathering would know – the heady aromas and the palate-stinging and puckering dryness of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and a whiff of ginger – but here contained by the Weiss character.

And so now I know if I don’t feel like baking a pie for the upcoming feast, I can always finish with this lovely, lusty liquid pumpkin pie Weiss from New Glarus.

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Obsidian Stout from the Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Ore., seemed like a good choice of beer on a recent chilly night. I think it might be my first beer from Deschutes, but probably not. Deschutes is one of the West Coast pioneers, started in 1988, and their Black Butte Porter was legendary long before it made it to these parts. I must have had one or two of those at some point.

But this is definitely my first Obsidian Stout. I learned after picking up a sixer that it won best American stout at the 2014 World Beer Awards.

I didn’t care for the first bottle. It seemed to come on too strong – too much roasted malt, too much hops. It tasted bitter, burnt, sharp and awkward, kind of like sucking on a piece of obsidian, which is just glassine charcoal, isn’t it?

I was ready to start lambasting the West Coast breweries and all the acolytes who bow in their general direction for overdoing beers, but, then, I had a second bottle and it didn’t seem as extreme as the first one. The third bottle was even better than the first two.

Obsidian Stout is a great name, but I am still deciding where it fits in the pantheon of stout beers. Maybe I’ll make this a stout winter, and revisit all stouts as well as tracking down the untried. Just a thought. We’ll see…