PUMPKIN BREW REVIEW – Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

BEER BEING REVIEWED
Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale
The Boston Beer Company (Boston, MA)
“Ale Brewed With Pumpkin and Spices”
5.7% ABV
LABEL
The Sam Adams label you recognize and feel comfortable with – with a few orange and brown touches. They don’t need to mess around with pumpkin pictures. I’d feel weird if they did.
AROMA
The pumpkin is very present in the aroma, with some spices that help the smell edge closer to pumpkin pie instead of pumpkin-can-opened-during-baking (which tends to just smell like the suburban aroma of Devil’s Night – smashed pumpkins).
PUMPKIN
A nice light pumpkin taste (closer to squashy in the taste, versus the quasi pumpkin pie smell), with minimal but present spicing, and Sam Adams beer flavor all mixed in there.
SPICE
LIGHT on the spicing, but just enough to not make it feel like you’re drinking squash beer. This is probably the best balance of pumpkin v. spice I’ve had so far.
THOUGHTS
A lighter Sam Adams beer with squashy pumpkin puree mixed in to keep it at the appropriate power level for a pumpkin beer. Not as bold in taste as their Octoberfest, which I think works here. A nice easy-to-drink pumpkin beer without losing touch with being a beer. Meeting me in the middle, how nice!
RATING
3.75/5 pumpkins. Favorite so far.

Finding a Way.

Sweet God. The Penn State-Illinois game was making me nauseous in a way only sports can. I clenched consciously and unconsciously as neither offense could do ANYTHING (the first points on the board came in the third quarter on an Illinois TD), and both defenses forced turnovers and three-and-outs like crazy. It was frustrating and painful, and I fully felt that Penn State was going to face its first loss since Alabama, and first conference loss altogether. Somehow, they didn’t, giving Joe Paterno his 409th win (now the Division I all-time leader) with an ugly final score of 10-7.

Everything came down to the final minutes of the game. Nittany Lion WR Derek Moye trotted onto the field (likely because despite broken foot, he was tired of seeing the offense look pathetic) and QB Matt McGloin got the ball to him multiple times, moving the chains (for what seemed like the first time all day) and marching the PSU offense down the field to allow for a 3-yard Silas Redd TD run with 1:08 left in regulation. The score was 10-7 Penn State. The Illini offense woke up for its final drive as well, moving all the way from the Illinois 17 yard line to the Penn State 25 to attempt a 42 yard tying field goal as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Illinois K Derek Dimke’s kick was high enough and long enough – and then thwacked the right upright as the clock hit 0:00.

Nope.

Penn State again, eeks out a win and again, the defense carries the team. AGAIN, the quarterbacks looked very bad (Rob Bolden has no vision and his internal time clock is warped. I think he’s done; Matt McGloin can occasionally complete a pass but is not much better – I was shouting at him/my TV for most of the game). Each and every member of the offense (minus Silas Redd, who had ANOTHER +100 yard rushing game) should personally thank the defensive squad for keeping their asses in the game and giving them chance after chance to score. NO style points awarded, but somehow Penn State sits alone at the top of the Big Ten Leaders Division and remains the only unbeaten-in-conference-play Big Ten team.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
-Speaking of Big Ten teams, #11 Michigan State, fresh off their big-time win against Wisconsin last week, falls hard to #14 Nebraska, 24-3.
-#15 Wisconsin, looking to regain its footing after losing to Michigan State on an end-of-game Hail Mary last week (see above), lost for the second straight week on a late TD, but this time to Ohio State, 33-29.
-#9 Oklahoma played with a chip on its collective shoulder after falling from the top spot in the NCAA last week after losing to Texas Tech. They rolled over #8 Kansas State, 58-17.
-Texas Tech must have been all out of juice after that primetime win over Oklahoma last week. They couldn’t do much of anything against Iowa State, losing 41-7.
-Unranked Georgia Tech upset visiting #5 Clemson (who had previously been upsetting teams all over the place and climbing the rankings) 31-17.
-Unranked Missouri took #16 Texas A&M to OT and beat them, 38-31.

Cripes, Football.

If you haven’t noticed, I am not posting about the NFL this season. This is because I am in a pool (meaning ca$h is involved) and a Fantasy League, and my inner sports journalist is grumbling about discussing my quasi gambling and competitive ventures. I am still a giant (Steelers) fan, and I still analyze Sunday play each week – I just am not going to share it in a public forum. Been meaning to get that off the proverbial chest for a while. Whew.

College football, however, is not something I am dabbling in, in that way. I am reserving analysis, public shock, and overt expressions of feelings for the Saturday young men.

I PROMISE I’ll be returning to action this weekend with a preview and recap. I was in State College for Penn State’s Homecoming win over Purdue two weeks ago, and I was in a Penn State bar with my parents for (part of) Penn State’s win last weekend over Northwestern. Excuses are like assholes – everyone’s got one. I get it. Sorry. I’ll be better.

PUMPKIN BREW REVIEW – River Horse Hipp-o-lantern Imperial Pumpkin

Hipp-o-lantern Imperial Pumpkin

BEER BEING REVIEWED
River Horse Hipp-o-lantern Imperial Pumpkin
River Horse Brewing Co. (Lambertville, NJ)
“Ale Brewed With Pumpkin Puree and Spices”
8.1% ABV
LABEL
In the River Horse vein but pumpkinized. Marbly orange outline (which I like very much) and the signature label hippo turned into a jack-o-lantern. Distinctive font. Distinctive pumpkin play on their brand. Well done.
AROMA
Wheaty with pumpkin on the end… like opening a beer and a can of pumpkin in close sequence and breathing deeply.
PUMPKIN
Medium pumpkin-ness in taste. As labeled and advertised, this beer is working with pumpkin puree instead of something along the lines of pumpkin pie. It’s not sweet, but it’s there, and not overwhelming – What I feel is unfortunately lacking (please forgive me, seasonal delights) in some of the pumpkin spice lattes I’ve had in my time.
SPICE
The spicier spices of fall are present – this is not sweet in the least. Allspice, nutmeg and the like float in on the darker ale. It’s not burning your tongue or anything near that (gross), but it’s balancing out the booze, which is undeniably present in an 8.1 ABV beer.
THOUGHTS
On my first sip, I thought this was funky, but as I continued and focused I started to really enjoy this. I was expecting sweeter, but this was the opposite, and it turned out to be a good thing. I think that pumpkin beer haters (and their numbers are growing, aren’t they?) need to sip this in their taste testing, because it’s a beer first, with pumpkin and fall accents in the background. A stepping stone between sweet pumpkin treat beer and darker, bolder Octoberfest.
RATING
3.5/5 pumpkins.

PUMPKIN BREW REVIEW – Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Punkin

BEER BEING REVIEWED
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)
“A full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg”
7% ABV

LABEL
Plain. Almost boring.
AROMA
Like beer… maybe a little spice in there too. Pumpkin, where are you?
PUMPKIN
Fake out with the aroma… I tasted pumpkin! Squashy up front. After-taste that I do not love. Just kind of bitter.
SPICE
The spice isn’t really there, for as much as the label is telling you about. I was not finding brown sugar and cinnamon on my tongue, that’s for sure. I wanted a little balance with the spicing. The hoppiness of this beer was breaking through any other flavoring.
THOUGHTS
This is definitely full-bodied as the label states, but not very balanced in its flavoring. I think this would be fairly fantastic with some fall foods, and it makes me want to be sitting on a porch in a sweater. Listening to football on the radio. But back to the beer.. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. The taste was great if I kept up with my sipping, but if I let up, the finish was really not making me happy.
RATING
2.75/5 pumpkins.

Homecoming.

PRETTY.

Tonight I’m hopping into a rental with two other Penn State alums and cruising on 80 West for four odd hours to make the trek from NYC to State College, PA. It’s Homecoming, for the 92nd time in Penn State’s history, and the third “homecoming” in my history (as an alumni). Other friends of mine are converging from different corners of Pennsylvania in the name of coming home – to the place where we met and spent years together, happy in Happy Valley.

Football starts early tomorrow (tailgating breakfast sandwiches.. oh yeah) for 5-1 Penn State and the visiting 3-2 Purdue Boilermakers: kick-off at 12 PM. Penn State has enjoyed plenty of Homecoming-game success over the years, with an overall record of 65-21-5, and a Joe Paterno record of 39-6. The Nittany Lions are looking to keep that winning feeling against Purdue and its noteworthy ground game (specifically RBs Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers, who have combined for seven TDs).

Last week, Penn State dropped Iowa, while Purdue had no trouble with Minnesota, winning 45-17. The obvious match-up to watch for is Penn State’s bruising defense vs. Purdue’s take-care-of-the-football offense. In its five games this season, Purdue has only turned the ball over four times. The nasty Nittany Lion D, on the other hand, has forced 14 turnovers in six games.

Stat that doesn’t really matter: Purdue has not played at Beaver Stadium since 2007.

Non-stat that matters to me: I have not been in Beaver Stadium since September 18, 2010.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
-Big Ten match-up (with new Spartan uniforms), #11 Michigan at #23 Michigan State, 12 PM kick-off
-Offensively explosive #6 Oklahoma State visits #22 Texas, 3:30 PM kick-off
-Can Wake cause another upset? Unranked Wake Forest hosts #19 Virginia Tech for a 6:30 PM ACC battle
-10:15 PM (ET, obv) Pac 12 match-up between #18 Arizona St. at #9 Oregon

Pumpkin Brew Review – Punk’n

I have an obscene hankering (hilarious combo of words) for pumpkin beer this season. I’m going to do my best to sample a wide variety and provide my thoughts. I am in no way a beer aficionado, a beer snob, I don’t have a microbrew degree etc. I just like a good beer, and I am an elitist in life, so I have a lot of opinions. I wish I had a loftier goal for this, but I don’t. Let’s do this!
Punk'n
BEER BEING REVIEWED
Punk’n
Uinta Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City, Utah)
“Ale brewed with pumpkin & spices”
4% ABV

LABEL
Simplistic, straight-forward. Great colors (the orange is a hue I love), and a huge upgrade from its previous label, which was ugly. Sorry.
AROMA
After popping the cap off this short bottle, you get a nice whiff of pumpkin and spice. It smells like pie-baking, and it smells like I’m in for something good.
PUMPKIN
Where the hell is the pumpkin flavor? Fake out with the aroma. It’s incredibly light flavor-wise, not necessarily a bad thing, but if you blindfolded me I’m not sure I’d know I was drinking a designated pumpkin ale.
SPICE
The spice is there, it’s light and enjoyable. Not overpowering whatsoever.
THOUGHTS
This is a very light beer when you actually start sipping. Punk’n is very easy to drink, and it would be easy to have several bottles. Not a lot a body, and I’m kind of wishing for more (which might be why it seems easy to drink). I like where it’s headed, I just want more.
RATING
3/5 pumpkins. A lightweight pumpkin brew contender. Emphasis on the light.

A Defense that Roars.

As I wrote in my previous post, we were due to find out whether Penn State’s defense was as good as it seemed, and whether they had enough to shut down Iowa’s Big-Ten-best passing game.

Crunch.

They were good enough.

Penn State grinded out another win, beating the Hawkeyes 13-3 at Beaver Stadium. Iowa entered Saturday’s game averaging nearly 38 points and 281 passing yards a game, but the Nittany Lion Defense held Iowa to 169 yards in the air and THREE points. Like I said… good enough.

On the other side of the ball, Matt McGloin again seemed to be the stronger QB, though Rob Bolden again got the start. Again (I’m tired of typing again), neither was able to really get the offense going. Instead, the ground game came alive, with sophomore RB Silas Redd rushing for 142 yards on 28 carries. If I were Galen Hall, giving the ball to Silas Redd as much as possible would be my game plan from here on out.

Next week, I’ll be in State College when Penn State takes on Purdue. I can barely describe how excited I am to be screaming (at noon) in Beaver Stadium. And I hope I’m screaming positive things.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
-#3 Oklahoma finished off its beat-down of #11 Texas, 55-17. Ouch.
-#1 LSU stops #17 Florida easily, winning 41-11 and staying undefeated (and still #1?) in the process.
-#15 Auburn didn’t have it against #10 Arkansas, Razorbacks win 38-14.
-#14 Nebraska comes back from a 21-point deficit to beat Ohio State 34-27. Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez took a lot of flak after the Wisconsin loss (and a lot of boos from the fans in the first half of this game), but Martinez ran for a TD and tossed two others to bring his team to victory. I’m sure he’s thinking something along the lines of “suck it”.
– Upset alert.. Wake Forest downed #23 Florida State 35-30. The Demon Deacons improve to 4-1 and start 3-0 in ACC play for the first time in school history.

Pigskin & Pumpkin Preview.

It’s a gorgeous Saturday in New York City, although a little on the warm side for fall (for me). College Football has already kicked-off today across the country, and there is a semi-full slate of big-time match-ups (see below). As for Penn State, the 4-1 Nittany Lions host the 3-1 Iowa Hawkeyes at 3:30 PM for the Lions’ Big Ten Home Opener. In recent years, Iowa has been notorious for thwarting Penn State’s efforts.

I felt her pain.

But with this being Iowa’s first conference game of the season and with a considerably different defensive roster this year, it’s hard to say just yet where the Hawkeyes stack up. We’ll soon find out if Iowa’s #9-in-conference ranking in total defense is reality, and subsequently a big positive for the (impotent) Penn State offense. We’ll also see if Penn State’s defense is as good as it seems (Devin Still is beastly in a good way), while they try to contain the conference’s top passing offense led by Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and receivers Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis.

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE:
-#3 Oklahoma is currently visting and beating on #11 Texas (48-10 in the 4th quarter)
-#17 Florida attempts to knock off #1 LSU in an SEC match-up at 3:30 PM
-Another big SEC game – #15 Auburn (people are taking note of the Tigers now/again) visits #10 Arkansas, 7 PM kick-off
-Ohio State @ #14 Nebraska for a Big Ten battle at 8 PM. Both are coming off ugly Big Ten opener losses.

PUMPKIN THING TO NOTE:

Plastic cup.. bummer.

I am working on sampling a vast variety of pumpkin beers available this season, and I’m going to be reviewing them. I am not a beerie (foodie… but with beer.. no?), but I have opinions, and I am very pro-beer and pro-pumpkin, respectively. With that said, my rating system is going to be unique. Check out my first review tomorrow.

Lions and Hoosiers, Oh My.

Woof. What a sloppy game. Penn State snuck away with a (somewhat pitiful) 16-10 victory over Indiana in the the Big Ten opener for both teams. Despite starting 1-0 in the Big Ten Leaders Division with another strong defensive showing, Penn State made it clear (again) that the offense is going to struggle (with mediocrity) to put points on the board. For most of the first half, this game was painful to watch. Neither team had anything to speak of in terms of offensive rhythm – it was 3-3 at the half – and turnovers kept things ugly throughout. Penn State gave the ball up three times, including a Rob Bolden tip-turned-interception at the Indiana 1 and a Silas Redd fumble at the Indiana 2. Indiana had two turnovers of their own.

Matt McGloin again looked sharper than Bolden (not a high bar) and was 10 of 22 for 204 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and no sacks. McGloin’s TD was one of the lone scoring highlights from the game, connecting with Derek Moye on a long ball early in the third quarter. Moye hauled in six on the day for 158 yards and the TD, and despite the fumble, Redd rushed for 129 yards on 29 carries.

Next week, Penn State hosts Iowa in what will sure to be a tougher challenge than Indiana. Squeaking by is not going to work for long, especially in Big Ten play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
– Speaking of tough Big Ten play, #8 Nebraska was welcomed to the Big Ten with an ass-kicking from #7 Wisconsin. The Badgers looked like the Big Ten team to beat after the 48-17 win.
-#3 Alabama stays undefeated after a test from #12 Florida, beating the Gators 38-10.
-In a turnover-laden game of their own, Auburn ended #10 South Carolina’s streak, defeating the Gamecocks 16-13.
-#13 Clemson continues to roll, taking down #11 Virginia Tech 23-3.
-#18 Arkansas bounced back from their loss last week to Alabama, edging #14 Texas A&M 42-38.