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- Brewery: Wild Onion Brewing Company
- Website: onionpub.com
- Country: United States
- State: Illinois
- Style: Pumpkin Ale Spiced / Herbed / Vegetable Beers
- Malts: North American 2-Row, Maris Otter, Caramel Munich
- Hops: Cascade, Northern Brewer
- ABV: 5.4%
- IBUs: 20
- Tasting Notes: Spiced, malty, pumpkin
- Preferred Glass: English Pint
- Food Pairing: Hearty foods like stews, shepherd's pie, Thanksgiving dinner
- PHM Grade: A
Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale
Written by Team
Taylor: Last weekend Michael, Tom, Barry and I went to a beer tasting at Binny’s in St. Charles, Illinois. We anticipated a bunch of Oktoberfest/Marzen/Pumpkin brews, and were not incorrect in our anticipations. We sampled from serious, well-established brewers like Spaten, Southern Tier, Goose Island, Bell’s, Two Brothers, Ommegang, Summit and more. There was a festive spirit in the air. But the best beer I tasted that day was a local Pumpkin Ale brewed by Wild Onion Brewing Company in South Barrington, Illinois … not to far from where I live.
I’d never even heard of Wild Onion before last weekend. In the great lake that is craft brewing, they are a relatively small minnow. Just a brewpub and brewery in Chicago’s northwest burbs. I know little about their operation, staff, history, beer selection, or food … but I do know one thing, and that is that their Pumpkin Ale tasted better than all of the others at the beer tasting. So there’s that.
Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale pours a nice reddish brown out of this seriously awesome can. Yes, that’s right, this pumpkin ale comes in a can. It’s bright orange (surprise!), with a devilish Jack-0-lantern. If Wild Onion betrays anything by enclosing their concoctions in aluminum, it’s that they are unashamed … and maybe trying to keep costs down. Either way, cans are on the rise in the beer packaging world.
The nose of the brew is aromatic and smells like a host of fall flavors … cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, and … pumpkin. Holy pumpkin baby! You get a great waft of sweet pumpkin right on the sniff. Made me long for some pie. After taking a sip, I was sold. This is a serious session ale at 5.4% ABV. Mouthfeel is crisp: well carbonated with a great mix of sweet malt, pumpkin spice, and tempering hops. I am a total believer in this beer. Grade: A
Michael: With the simple can and a simple name, my hopes were not high for this local, seasonal brew. The Binny’s table on which I first found it, was stocked with many much more well-known Octoberfest brews and pumpkin concoctions. And yet, in hopes of finding that hidden gem and also in attempts to get my five bucks worth of beer, I indulged. And boy am I glad I did. A diamond in the rough, I dare say. In my quest for the finest pumpkin brew, I’ve come across the spectrum. Too sweet, not sweet enough. Too much spice, too little. But this beaut has trumped them all.
With the minimalist description from Wild Onion “Crisp malt flavor blends smoothly with a hint of spicy pumpkin,” I was left almost entirely to my own devices. It was up to me to determine the spices, the malts and the all-important level of pumpkininess.
The pour seemed typical. The opaque orange was nice, but nothing too overly special and the head bright and buoyant, but not shockingly so. The scent was of rich, bready pumpkin, just slightly less sweet than a pie. Perhaps slight hints of malt, but very little spice or other bold fragrance. The flavor was where this one takes the cake. Or pie. It is pure pumpkiny goodness. With bookends of beer-like flavor, the bulk of this beer’s taste is straight up pumpkin. Even the aftertaste, at first dry with earthy, pleasant malts, melts into a fading pumpkin on the back of my mouth. This is as much liquid pumpkin as I’ve tasted.
Now, for the beer snob, this very well may not be your cup of…well, beer. It is unabashedly pumpkin and may be less beer-like than you would like. But for me, I like change and I love bold tastes and for a beer to taste as close to a pie as I’ve ever had, now that’s something to toast to. Well done, Wild Onion, you have topped my Pumpkin Ale list! Grade: AWild Onion Pumpkin Ale,