9/22/16 (It's Fall Now): Breckenridge Brewery's Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte

4:30 PM

I freely admit this to you here and now: I love pumpkin spice. I love pumpkin spice lattes. Yes, I know that there are those who may poke fun of me for that fact (although, to my knowledge, no one has before). But I don't care. I love pumpkin spice. Not because I'm a huge fan of pumpkins, though. Historically, I was never a pumpkin pie guy (that's changed in recent years--now I am decidedly, most certainly a pumpkin pie guy). No, I love pumpkin spice for what it means: cool air, sweaters, crisp orange and red leaves, longer nights to spend inside with family and friends, bonfires--in short, autumn.

And, golly, what do you know? Today's the first day of autumn 2016. The autumnal equinox. In light of this fact a post about a pumpkin beer is pretty damn timely, as long as you, you know, ignore the fact that the immediate previous post was about a pumpkin beer. But, should you choose not to ignore that fact, be assured that this is different. This isn't just a regular pumpkin beer. No, no. This is a Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte from Breckenridge.

Seeing as how I've never given the John Likes Beer treatment to Breckenridge before, let me start off with this fun fact: Breckenridge Brewery is as old as I am. Yep. 1990. Don't believe me? Here's the brewery's "Our Story" page where you can read about that fact and others. What others? Well, while their original brewpub has remained in Breckenridge, CO since it opened, their secondary one has had three different homes (two in Denver and one in Littleton, its current location). The brewery also distributes to 35 states. Meaning that, as long as you're reading this in the US, there's a 70% chance you can find a nearby Breckenridge brew with (relative) ease.

Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte (clicking the link will take you to its official page) is an offering from the brewery's newly christened nitro series. This fall seasonal is what Breckenridge has dubbed a "Pumpkin Coffee Stout." At 5.5% ABV, it's brewed with roasted malts, coffee beans, pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. The nitrogen in the can serves to give the stout a "...velvety texture...."

So, I'll bet your wondering how well the beer lives up to its description. If the aroma is anything, pretty well. It has that distinctly coffee, stout aura. It also has a strong pumpkiness. But, I'm not picking up much of the spice from the pumpkin spice--i.e. there's no kick from the cinnamon or nutmeg. It's not a bad aroma, however, because the coffee and pumpkin compliment each other nicely. At six whiffs, Purrl would probably try to drink it if she had ever shown interest in actually drinking beer, which she hasn't.

The stout has a very subtle flavor. It has the subdued coffee taste of those famous Irish stouts you may have enjoyed time and again. But, after that, the pumpkin kicks in subtly, as well, but also vegetably. Then, in the aftertaste, you find it: the spice that was lacking in the aroma. It serves to build the initial swig up and prompt you to take the next. And the next. And the next. It's, clearly, a layered beer. But it's layered well and the pumpkin finds a great home sandwiched between the coffee and the spice.

Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte does have a velvety texture. It's like a smooth cup of (iced) coffee.

Before I found work with my current employer, I was desperate to find a job anywhere near me in Cincinnati (I moved here with zero career prospects). It was September when we moved into our first apartment here. Shortly after I got hired on at one of the pop-up Halloween stores. You know the kind. 80% of the year its an empty storefront but during the other 20% it blares "Thriller" and Rob Zombie and sells spooky costumes and creepy animatronics (which double as home décor for the spooky inclined). Anyway, I drove in for an interview and was hired on the spot.

It was a genuinely fun job. I got to wear jeans and sneakers to work. I shot the shit with people while I attempted to find them the perfect Halloween costume. The best part, though, was that Michelle worked in the next store over so she came to visit on her breaks (I never took breaks because they were unpaid) and we got to carpool. Anyway, that job is what Nitro PSL brings to my mind: the cool people I worked with, the fun I had wandering the floor and activating the animatronics just as people walked by them, and, most importantly, the fact that some days it was so cold that I had to wear a sweater.

Breckenridge Brewery's Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte is a nicely subdued stout that will add to anyone's autumnal experience. I'm giving it an 8.0/10. It's pleasant and inviting, and it makes me wish it would actually start to feel like fall.

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