Flagstaff Arizona is my state’s secret treasure. Secret, that is, if you have only a passing familiarity with the state of Arizona and picture the whole place as a barren, sunbleached desert wasteland. Which the lower half totally is. But Flagstaff is a mere two hour drive North from Phoenix, is high up in the mountains, and considerably cooler and greener than anywhere else in the state. It ranks in the top ten cities in the entire U.S. for total snowfall. It has a university, a ski resort, lots of hippies, and recently a whole bunch of craft breweries.
I’m no expert on Flagstaff beer, but I do know that I’ve never had a pumpkin beer from any of their breweries until now, when Historic Brewing’s Pumpkin Piehole Porter surfaced at Total Wine.
I actually like the simple, understated can art. A Jack o’ Lantern or two would help, but I like the classy-ness of it. Pumpkin porters are a rare breed – rarer even than pumpkin stouts, the most famous being Four Peaks’. This one has more smokiness than you’d expect from a pumpkin beer. It’s the first thing to hit the tongue. Next is a little semi-sweet chocolate, and if you really squint and focus on it, a hint of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. This one doesn’t go overboard with the pumpkin pie flavor, in spite of its name.
ABV is 6% and it has 18 IBU’s, if those numbers mean anything to you. They don’t to me. I’m only looking for beers that stir up Halloween spirit when I take a sip, and this one just barely does so. It’s subtle, and as I get older I find I prefer the subtler pumpkin beers, but it might need just a bit more tweaking to bring out the pumpkin more and hold back the smoky porter notes a little.
Nevertheless, this is a very good beer, and likely to be a win for anybody that prefers an understated pumpkin beer.