Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale: All trick, no treat
As I plopped down in my friendly, neighborhood hole-in-the-wall the other night, thirsting for some beer-flavored beverage to help bring a dose of reality back to a crazy day, I made a crazy decision instead. Influenced by an attractive and, seemingly, intelligent and tasteful patron, I decided to give the ‘beer-of-the-month’ a go. Normally, I’m suspicious of any beer that needs a promotion like that in order to get people to buy it, but I am susceptible to the charms of sirens, and alarmingly open to whatever they might suggest. Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale is yet another siren call that would have been best avoided.
Anheuser-Busch trotted this stuff out last year, and somehow thought it was such a good idea that they should do it again this year.
I just don’t like pumpkin beer. I can’t imagine why it was ever invented in the first place. Something festive for the fall season, I suppose. Halloween is a big beer-drinking party season, and it needed to be capitalized on. Throw some spices in an otherwise uninteresting beer and maybe even the people who don’t really like beer will be happy.
Well, I happen to like beer. The fewer gimmicks, the better. If the beer happens to have a whiff of citrus, taste of caramel, or any other subtle hint of unusual flavor, I‘m alright with that. But, first and foremost, I want my beer to taste like beer. I want it to be a part of the festivities, not the flavor of them.
To be honest, I haven’t had many pumpkin beers, so I don’t have much idea where Jack’s stands in comparison. I won’t be looking to try many in the future, either.
Jack’s is obviously colored purposely for the effect. It’s a deep orange that reinforces the whole pumpkin idea in case you might have missed it from the name. The spices are evident in the aroma. Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon -- it smells like you can have a cake if you swirl a carrot in it. That’s just what it tastes like, as well. There are no surprises here. All of those spices are predominant, with a little malt mixed in to sweeten it even more. The flavor isn’t really overpowering. It is marketed especially for bland American taste buds, after all. It’s rather thin, and smooth. Nice, for those who don’t really like much flavor, but want to pretend they’re having something interesting. Perfect for some segment of the population that answers taste surveys, no doubt.
I’m just not among that segment.
It’s pointless to suggest any food with this beer. Something might go with it tolerably well, but it is not a food beer. This is a beer cute people can swill at a very particular time of the year and think of it as a novelty. That’s the whole role of this stuff. Drink it at a Halloween party if you must, the middle of the road 5.5% alcohol makes it good for that, and be done with it for the year.
In the fall, I usually prefer a nice, medium-bodied ale. Cellar temperature. Something that tastes of hops and malt. If I want pumpkin pie, I’ll have a piece.