10/22/21: Stein Brewing Company's Knoxtoberfest

1:52 PM

Michelle and I drove up to my old stomping grounds last weekend to visit my parents. While we were there, the four of us swung by Stein Brewing Company for dinner and (obviously) some beer. When I saw they had a beer on tap called Knoxtoberfest, I asked for it--I'd assumed, incorrectly, that it was a Märzen- or festbier-style brew. 

Imagine my surprise when I got a dark colored ale brewed with pumpkin and yam! Apart from being a phenomenal pairing for the bowl of chili I'd ordered, I knew that I had to slot it into the blog's Spooky Finger Puppet Ghost Month lineup. So, I grabbed a crowler of it on the way out and here we are. 

It's a chilly, overcast day. The trees are wearing their autumn best, and I have Spooktober's Puketober cued up on my MacBook. Now, a little over a week out from the day itself, it's finally starting to be spooky season proper.  Let's see if Knoxtoberfest pairs as well to all of this as it does to chili.

From 1878 to 2017, there wasn't a brewery in Knox County, OH that was legally allowed to sell its beer for on-site consumption (if there was one at all). Stein Brewery Company changed that. Located in Mount Vernon, the county seat, the brewery began life in 2016 as an idea in David Stein's head. A year later, Stein's doors opened to a full brewery/taproom/restaurant combination. 

Like I said, Knoxtoberfest is a (dark) pumpkin/yam ale that rings in at 5.7% ABV. There's no better description of it online; not even the official Untappd listing for it (which provides an incorrect ABV measurement) gives further details than what I've already stated.

I'm finding some hearty dark, roasted malt notes in the ale's bouquet: some mild coffee and chocolate notes, with a touch of caramel. The pumpkin and a bit of yam kick around with a dash of cinnamon. It's a nose that perfectly aligns with what the ale's billing reads. Purrl, who gave my crowler three meager whiffs, doesn't seem to care for it.

There's a certain homebrew quality to the ale's flavor that's delightful. It's kind of a washy, hoppy flavor that accent's the dark malt characteristics I noted above. The gourd, yam, and cinnamon hit just before the finish and linger long with it, bolstered by some hoppy bitterness before giving up the ghost.

Knoxtoberfest's mouthfeel has a little less oomph, a little less bite that I'd like from an ale. It's serviceable, sure, but a tad thin and not the beer's main selling point. 

During my senior year of college, my roomies and I threw a huge Halloween house party. Okay, let me preface this: You know that Halloween at Ohio University is a big deal, right? A bunch of college kids uptown in Athens, dressed up however they best see fit, usually drunk as skunks and getting into trouble? Yeah, the house party we had was an afterparty for that big, uptown affiar.

Not that it was bad, or even that sloppy really. It was mostly just people my housemates and I knew and liked. I think the worst of it was that I ate a KFC Double Down. Pretty tame, but a blast all the while. Somehow, that's what drinking a crowler of Knoxtoberfest on this dreary October afternoon's bringing to my mind, neon lights and all.

Let's rip of that Band-Aid I applied at the start of this post: Yes, Stein's Knoxtoberfest pairs beautifully with a chilly, dreary, late-October day. It's a good beer, definitely deserving of the 8.5/10 I'm giving it. Not a lot of pumpkin beers go down the dark route, but I'm glad Stein gave it a go. 

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