This balmy September week presents a challenge:
To drink, or not to drink, pumpkin beer?
The challenge is one of conditioning vs. climate. It's this time of year, with fall approaching, that Pumking, Punkin Ale and all the other beers made with that seasonal squash hit store shelves. And, usually, it's this time of year that the temperature drops to the point that the cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices in their profiles sound pretty tasty.
One bitterly cold January afternoon, Joe Shelton and Mark Grimaldi walked into Prison City P…
But lately, the temperature's gone nowhere but up. Sours, session IPAs and other summer crushers still win out. So right now, pumpkin beers are like the friend who insists on wearing their nice fall jacket when it's 80 degrees out because it's fall, damn it, and they just love that jacket. What's a little sweat and discomfort compared to style and seasonal tradition?
It being central New York, the temperature will probably plummet into the 40s by the time I finish typing this column, anyway.
But I will say that I'm excited for the pumpkin and other fall offerings from Cayuga County's breweries. The Good Shepherds Brewing Co. and Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing Co. have previously done pumpkin ales, and both will return for the season (more on that below). Aurora Ale & Lager Co. has not, nor has Prison City Pub & Brewery — though the Auburn brewpub is trying to source local pumpkins for a pumpkin porter that would be released in early October, co-owner Marc Schulz said.
Hopefully, the temperature really does plummet by the time they hit our local taps.
Gallery: Cayuga County's new craft beer scene
Four craft breweries have sprouted up in Cayuga County within the past year, and along with a new craft beer market, they've all seen sales surpass their original projections. Local brewers talk about what they have planned next and the state of the craft brewing industry.
What's on tap
Aurora Ale & Lager Co.
Available now at the King Ferry brewery is its Taste NY award-winning Mango Goseface Killah Gose, a double dry-hopped and hazy version of its The Ruckus IPA and, recently returned, its Fat Pete Smoked Porter With Plums. Brewers Mark Grimaldi and Joe Shelton also have on deck a new version of their session New England-style IPA, It Was All a Dream, as well as a German märzen titled The Hoff, just in time for Oktoberfest. And with all the plums on their lakeview property, the brewers are additionally planning to make a barrel-aged quadrupel with the fruit.
The Good Shepherds Brewing Co.
Work is continuing on brewer Garrett Shepherd's new space at the former PBJ on the Corner building in downtown Auburn. Meanwhile, the brewery's pumpkin beer is available as of Thursday at its current 31 Loop Road space, and it will release an Oktoberfest beer at its First Firkin Friday Oct. 6.
Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing Co.
Fresh off the Tap it Forward event Sept. 8 at the Genesee Brew House in Rochester (where Prison City also poured), as well as TomatoFest in Auburn the next day, Derric and Kristen Slocum will bring their beers to the Crooked Creek Hop Off & Harvest Brew Festival in Addison Sept. 23, the Boathouse Beer Garden's Brew Fest in Romulus Oct. 7, the Woodland Cask Fest in Utica Oct. 14, Dickman Farms Greenhouses & Garden Center in Auburn Oct. 21 and The Apple Farm Stand at Mackquinle Farm in North Rose Oct. 28. Along with Lunkenheimer's pumpkin ale, Pumptoberfest, the Slocums will soon be releasing their Weizenbock, Mile Marker 304 IPA, Peanut Butter Habanero Brown and Raspberry Berliner Weisse. But they're saving the big guns for Lunkenheimer's third anniversary Sept. 28, when they'll tap the Weedsport brewery's first barrel-aged beer, a bourbon barrel-aged version of its Russian Not So Imperial Stout.
Prison City Pub & Brewery
Dawn and Marc Schulz's downtown Auburn brewpub is dropping two new unnamed IPAs in the next week, one with Southern Hemisphere hops and the other with Galaxy, Cascade and Falconer's Flight. Also coming soon is a hefeweizen made by assistant brewer Rob Bowen — the first Prison City beer untouched by brewer Ben Maeso, Marc Schulz said. Meanwhile, the brewpub is preparing to pour its beers at the Great American Beer Festival Oct. 5-7 in Denver. Four of Maeso's beers have been submitted into the competition, the world's largest, in hopes of adding to the silver Prison City won for its Bleek Worden Belgian pale ale there in 2015.
Thirsty Pug Craft Beer Market
Mike Sigona's Genesee Center bottle shop has something better than pumpkin beer (though he has that, too). His iPad register has a new stylus for signing credit card orders is such a thrill to wield, Sigona said, that "people are purposely doing multiple credit transactions so they can use it multiple times." He added, "On top of the cleanest floors in town I can confidently say we have the best stylus in town."