Welcome back October- you were dearly missed.
Between apple cider, Halloween, fall foliage, and bad Vincent Price horror movies, what is there not to love about October!
What used to mark the beginning of sweater weather for me was the famed Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte but in recent years, my $6 beverage investment has been geared towards autumnal beers. Thankfully, my seasonal anticipation was satiated this year by a
recent visit to New York City’s only brewery- Chelsea Brewing Company.
This year, I rang in the new month with a tour and tasting at Chelsea
Brewing Company on October 1, with the spotlight on their Pumpkin Pie beer. I
collected a bundle of friends and headed to 18th street and 11th Avenue to the famed Chelsea Piers overlooking the Hudson River. CBC has survived over the decades to now be New York City’s lone brewery- and with good reason. While they do boast georgous views and a delicious restaurant, clearly their sweet spot is their craft beers.
To dig into CBC’s brewing secrets, we took one of their hourly tours offered on Saturdays with Brewmaster Mark. While we sipped our samples of their Checkered Cab Blonde Ale (which as their most widely distributed beer, makes up 60% of their sales), Brewmaster Mark walked us through the 2 week process of beer making in amazing (and sometimes
While I have had CBC beers all over bars in New York City, they do limit their distribution to specific bars in the tri-state area. With only 6 brewing tanks on premise and no bottling facilities, they only brew when they need to, which ends up being about twice a week. Their current tap offerings for the fall are Checkered Cab Blonde Ale,
Sunset Red Ale, Hop Angle IPA, Black Hole XXX Stout, Autumn Wheat, Fruited Wheat Beers, Chelsea Pumpkin Pie, and New York State of Mind. While CBC has 6 staple beers and only tends to switch out 2 taps for their seasonal offerings, they have been known to brew up to 25 different beers per year- so pleantly of variety to look forward to.
While our group, like the good recent college grads we are, bombarded Mark with questions, what I wanted to know most was HOW DO YOU MAKE PUMPKIN PIE BEER?! Mark told us that CBC brewers mix on premise in the restaurants kitchen a delicate batch of organic all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pureed butternut squash from Chelsea Market into a one of a kind syrup added to their already well crafted wheat beer. Due to the especially precise process of making their Pumpkin Pie
beer, these batches tend to take much longer to brew and are only made
in individual kegs.
Luckily we had the privlige to taste their Pumpkin Pie beer and as soon as the pint hit the table, the aroma of warm pumpkin pie filled the air. Saying this beer smelled exactly like an oven fresh desert is an understatement. The perfectly balanced spicy and fruity flavors did not over power the wheat base like so many seasonal beers do. The
beer is very smooth and while some flavored beers can leave the imitation flavor aftertaste, CBC’s Pumpkin Pie leaves a true aftertaste of, well, pie-which everyone loves. Another point to make about CBC’s Pumpkin Pie beer is that while many desert beers are not easily paired with food, our group chose to eat dinner at the brewery and the Pumpkin Pie beer melded perfectly whether we were eating burritos or french onion soup (I did say they had an excellent restaurant!). All in all, I can not say enough good things about this beer, and while I have been sampling pumpkin brews whenever I
encounter one, none can compare.
So thank you Brewmaster Mark and the whole Chelsea Brewing Company team- your hard work and dedication makes for a stupendious beer and a one hell of an experience. And for all of the local New Yorkers or visitors wondering what to do on these upcoming autumnal Saturdays- pull on your boots and visit this New York relic and try the most
perfect Pumpkin Pie beer for yourself.
Amy Wadyka is a freelance (and by freelance we mean unpaid) beer lover, writing from the newly created News and Brews satellite office in New York City. Want to write a review of a local beer? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!