Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week:" New Holland's "Ichabod" Pumpkin Ale
By Jason Baldacci in Food on Oct 19, 2012 8:40PM
Love them or hate them, anyone who works in the beer industry will tell you that Pumpkin Beers are a serious commodity this time of year, and they don't tend to sit on retailer's shelves for very long.
The Ichabod from New Holland Brewing Co is an amber ale from Holland, MI that's brewed with real pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The spices dominate the aroma of the beer, but they're nicely balanced in the flavor. The pumpkin is prevalent, but not overwhelming, and the roasty malts play off of the additional ingredients nicely. At a mere 5.2% alcohol content, this light to medium bodied beer is full flavored and smooth, with the hops shining through on the finish with a lingering, spicy bitterness. It's really easy to overdo it when you're brewing with ingredients like pumpkin and cinnamon, but the brewers at New Holland do a great job of wrapping everything up in a nice, neat package.
When it comes to pairing a beer like Ichabod with food, you'll want to be careful. There are definitely a lot of seasonal ingredients that will play along wonderfully, but with the distinct spices in the beer, the chances of having something work very well or very poorly are about equal. We could see this working with butternut squash soup, roasted turkey with a sweeter style gravy, and (obviously) pumpkin pie. Ichabod is definitely able to stand up to a little sweetness, but we would probably avoid anything too spicy or acidic. A key thing to consider is the cinnamon. If you wouldn't put cinnamon in the food you're eating, you probably wouldn't want to pair it with a beer that's been brewed with cinnamon.
Look for Ichabod on tap at Rockwell's Neighborhood Grill and other fine establishments, but be sure to get some by the end of the month. Pumpkin Beer can be tough to find come November.