Love Me Some Pumpkin!

Pumpkin Cold Beverages

Red Robin Spiced Pumpkin Pie Shake

Red Robin Spiced Pumpkin Pie Shake

Wow!: Yum, indeed! Who knew that my latest favorite hamburger joint also dabbled in the fine pumpkin arts around this time of year?! I sure didn’t! 8O

The Narrative: Though I had stopped here yesterday with my wife expecting simply to indulge on their ridiculously delicious burgers and sweet potato fries, a mere 15 seconds into gazing over the menu she announced, “Well, I know what Scott’s getting!” and pointed me towards this seasonal concoction that was just begging to get reviewed. Having been quite pleased with several of Red Robin’s monster shakes in the past, I just didn’t have the heart to tell this one no…

The Shake: Aside from Cold Stone, I think I would argue that this was pretty much the best pumpkin shake I’ve ever had. The ice cream was sweet and flavorful, and good god, did they give me a lot of it! I honestly couldn’t even finish the whole thing after I learned that the mixing cup had enough to not only refill my entire glass from empty, but still had another 1/2 a glass’s worth after that. It’s for this reason that I felt required to designate this one under both the Cold Beverages and Dessert categories here, but either way you slurp it, this is one that’s certainly worth the drive out to try! :)

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Guest Review by: Andy Hayes from Plum Deluxe

Introduction: If you haven’t heard of Elysian Brewing and you like pumpkin beer, then you need to remedy that immediately – the company is so committed to festive autumn brews that they host their own Great Pumpkin Beer Fest. Their site also has a beer locator that can be quite handy if you aren’t up for a flight to their Seattle, their home base.

Elysian has a few pumpkin beers, but one of my favorites is their Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.

What I Love About It: This is one of the few pumpkin beers that truly does give you hints of all the flavors of pumpkin pie: a bit of earthy nutmeg and cinnamon up front, followed by a huge swell of pumpkin-y goodness, and ending with hints of graham cracker. I’m not overselling it, this beer is absolutely delicious. The brewery claims to dump all the pumpkin guts into the brewing process – seeds and all – and I think it makes a difference.

Who this Beer is For: If you haven’t enjoyed some fresh draft beer here in the Pacific Northwest, you should know that we like our beers full-bodied. Now, don’t let me scare you – this beer is 5.9% ABV and considered a “light to medium” brew – but, it isn’t a Corona, so be prepared. If you hate beer, you probably will not love the Night Owl.

Pairings: Personally, I like sweet and salty items with my beers, especially a hearty pumpkin beer like this one. Think cookies, pie, salty seeds. But I don’t mind a pumpkin overload; this would still work nicely with fruit pies, burgers, etc.

For Future Consideration: If you’ve tried the Night Owl and love it, then move on to Elysian’s Great Pumpkin Ale. It’s even bolder and full-bodied – you will be getting hit over the head with pumpkin in this tasty creation.

So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk

Suggested Tagline: Coconut milk … who knew?!

Experience: I’ve never actually had coconut milk before. I was supposed to try it once on the direction of a friend, but the thing ended up sitting in my refrigerator so long that it expired before I actually got around to it! So I figured I was overdue when I came across this pumpkin version at Whole Foods, but I still wasn’t entirely sure what to expect and the whole Dairy Free moniker gave me bad flashbacks to the pumpkin soy milk I tried a couple of years ago and really didn’t like… :(

Results!: Definitely not like soy milk – I was really quite pleasantly surprised with how the flavors blended together … it kind of reminded me of a tropical pumpkin drink, what with how the pumpkin met the coconut flavor. I can’t go so far as to say that it was even better than that amazing Market Pantry Pumpkin Spice Milk that Target had last year (haven’t seen it this year), but if you find yourself in Whole Foods often, I’d still argue that it’s worth giving a try! :mrgreen:

Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Royal Shake

Arrival: I was a little surprised to see my local Dairy Queen completely devoid of promotional materials when I walked through the doors in search of this pumpkin treat yesterday – I wasn’t sure if they’d already moved on to something else or just were horrific pumpkin haters who didn’t want to broadcast the availability of this frozen treat, but thankfully I knew what I wanted and they were able to oblige without protest, and that was that…

Departure: Truth be told, I guess that pumpkin just really isn’t Dairy Queen’s thing. I mean, it’s one thing to mix candy like Reese’s Pieces and Peanut Butter Cups into soft serve to create a wonderful blend of vanilla and chocolate, but the spices that they dump in to make their Pumpkin Pie Blizzard and now also this shake just really don’t do much for me. It’d be like making a pumpkin pie using only the powdered pumpkin pie spice and not actual canned pumpkin – that concoction would likely still technically sorta taste like pumpkin, but it can just be executed so much better that no one in their right mind ever does it that way.

I appreciate the effort, DQ, but I suppose next time maybe I should just stick to the classics.

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

A Toast!: I guess you could say that this pumpkin ale was actually my beverage of choice for ringing in the new year, a last-minute offering by my brother-in-law, who had actually set some aside long ago in anticipation for our Christmastime visit! It really is the little things, isn’t it?

A Non-Beer-Drinkers Beer Review: Surprisingly even to myself, I actually kind of liked this beer! As my brother-in-law noted, Blue Moon is a bit more smooth than other ales, which I appreciated because it allowed me to actually get through the entire glass without feeling like I was just choking it down in obligation! :) The harvest spices were intriguing also, in that they seemed a bit more pronounced than in other alcoholic beverages that I’d sampled in the past.

The Verdict: And so while it still wasn’t enough to convert me into an actual beer drinker, not only did I appreciate the effort but this also officially becomes the very first pumpkin beer that I’d actually recommend here on this meager, little pumpkin pursuit of mine – bottoms up! 8)

P.S.: Happy New Year!!!

Borden Pumpkin Pie Spice Egg Nog

Quick Review: Thick and smooth, but not overwhelmingly pumpkin.  It’s definitely in there, unlike some other recent reviews, however the flavor wasn’t nearly as awesome and delicious as the pumpkin milk that I discovered through divine intervention earlier this year at Target.

True, it’s a tough act to follow, but hey – we’re looking for the best of the best of the best here! ;)

Market Pantry Pumpkin Spice-Flavored Milk

Proposed Slogan: “Like drinking a pumpkin pie – probably the most divine pumpkin potion your lips will ever meet.”

So You Liked It?: Yeah…

Well-Deserved Praise: Now I don’t want to go too far out on a limb here, but I will say as a man of great pumpkin prowess that not for nothing, but there’s a good chance that this bountiful beverage already has a strong lead towards being the best of 2011!  In a word, I loved it – goes down smooth and creamy, has a wonderful taste that’s sweet, but not too rich, and even has a spot-on color that assures you exactly what you’re getting from the moment that you pour it into your glass!  A+++

The Future: Back when I was growing up, chocolate milk was always sort of a big deal in our house.  I mean, sure, we had Quik around for whenever, but the good stuff that was already made in the jug was sort of reserved for special occasions like Christmas and Easter and stuff.  That said, because I can’t possibly see it happening any other way, I hereby decree that pumpkin milk will be the official special beverage in my house between the months of September and November!  How many holidays do we have in there?!  Halloween, Thanksgiving, the Autumnal Equinox, Talk Like a Pirate Day … Target had better stock up on this stuff because their sales of this delicious nectar from the gods are about to go nuts…

Shock Top Seasonal Collection – Pumpkin Wheat Ale

Exposition: So it’s been a whopping three years since I reviewed my last pumpkin beer, and I like to think that I’ve learned a few things along the way.  Namely, that there are a select few edibles out there that I’m probably best leaving up to my pumpkin-loving fans to provide commentary on, rather than risk alienation by treading into the dark unknown where frankly I just don’t have much experience!  Last year we learned that soymilk is definitely on this list, in addition to coffee, and considering that the last bottle of beer that I drank was most likely that same pumpkin-colored variety that I sampled three years ago, it’s probably safe to say that beer should also be on this particular list as well…

But For What It’s Worth…: I will say that I think I did enjoy this Shock Top ale more than I did its Michelob counterpart from three years prior.  While I can’t say that I specifically picked up a pumpkin aroma upon following the instructions on the bottle “to properly blend the spices and release the aroma and flavor,” it did seem to boast hints of cinnamon and nutmeg (as cited), and seemed to offer somewhat of an autumnal flavor upon the taste test.  It also had a really nice, deep color that reminded me of pumpkin juice, for what that’s worth…

Share Your Thoughts Below!: So that said, from here I open it up to you – the beer aficionados in the crowd to provide your own well-informed feedback about how Shock Top’s Pumpkin Wheat Ale really stacks up against your own personal favorite brews!  I want to hear what you think, America (and beyond!), so crack open a bottle at your local bar or just around the house, and then leave a comment with your thoughts…

P.S. Beer drinker or not, I can’t deny that their mascot does look pretty darned cool!

Post-Workout Pumpkin Smoothie (less banana)

Rambling Excuses: I’ve actually been meaning to blend this one up for a while now, however the last time I went to do so, I realized that I was one ingredient shy of what I needed.  Fast forward to today when I actually started putting things in the blender before I realized that I was still short a completely different ingredient this time!  Still, it was all or nothing at this point, so I tried to make the best with what I did have…

The Missing Link: Bananas … that was the item that I somehow managed to overlook this particular go around, and although it still turned out ok, I have a feeling that tossing a banana into the mix would’ve added the bit of sweetness that I feel like this was missing … and I even tried dumping in another spoonful of brown sugar, but the flavor was still just a little bland.

Instructions: Follow them.  All of them!  *The More You Know…*

Recipe: Pumpkin Smoothie (via VeryBestBaking.com)

Silk Pumpkin Spice Soymilk

Disclaimer: Prior to this review, I’ve never tasted any sort of artificial milk in my life whatsoever.

That Said…: I tried to give it my college best, folks, but after only half  a glass of this lactose-free pseudo-milk, it was pretty clear that soymilk just isn’t for me.  Maybe it’s just habit – I grew up on 2% milk and I can’t even stand skim, meaning that my wife and I have separate bottles in the fridge because that’s all that she drinks, but it just tasted weird to me.  The closest I could compare it to is maybe some sort of light or fat-free yogurt or frozen yogurt … probably because I would assume that maybe they use some of the same ingredients.
Pumpkin Spice?: Frankly, I think I was just too hung up on the soymilk flavor to reasonably discern any pumpkin similarities.  Not really having anything to compare it to, I suppose it might’ve tasted minutely autumnly, but I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to call it “like a scrumptious slice of pumpkin pie in your glass…”

Call to Lactose-Free Arms!: Hey, Pumpkin Lovers – are you vegan, lactose-intolerant, or otherwise just happen to drink stuff like this on a regular basis?  Post a comment with your own thoughts on this Silky beverage – I’m always curious to hear your opinions, especially when we’re looking at the kind of product that clearly just isn’t my cup of tea!