Brewed in Morganton, NC, not far from Asheville is Catawba Valley's annual pumpkin ale, King Don's Original Pumpkin Ale.
Barley's, a popular taproom downtown, and I spotted it on the wall.
If you're not a craft beer drinker I am here to tell you that beer is, in fact, and acquired taste. It took me forever to like any beer and when I did it was a progression from one style to the next. For example, I use to hate the taste of hops but now Pale Ales ad IPAs are some of my go-to beers. Your tastes really do change.
This first time trying Catawba Valley's King Don's Original Pumpkin Ale was...well...traumatizing. I did not like it! However, at the time I found it hard to express what I didn't like about it. It took me a while to develop the "Pumpkin vs. Pumpkin Spice" flavor profile comparison chart (patent pending!). All I knew is that whatever I just put in my mouth was revolting.
There is one other important truth to know about beer. It is subjective. While beer snobs can say that the big name macrobrews are "disgusting," clearly their sales indicate that someone likes the taste of their beers. Not all palates are created equal. For example, there are two beer trends that I am not particularly fond of: smoked beers and sour beers. But both of these are popular for a reason - because someone likes them. The same is clearly true about Catawba's pumpkin ale.
So, to make a long story short, I did not like Catawba Valley's King Don Pumpkin.
Recently, as people are learning that I am attempting to DRINK ALL THE BEER! this fall, they began to ask me about this particular, and popular, pumpkin ale.
When I saw it on tap at our regular Monday night bar, I figured it was a reasonably safe environment to give it a try. The bartender, also a friend, would gladly make fun of me for it but I knew the pain would only be temporary. I asked her for only a half pour so I didn't have to commit to a full pint.
Tenatively, I took a sip.
And it really wasn't as bad as I remembered it.
Here is the third truth of beer drinking: Go ahead and try things you though you didn't like before. If enough time goes by you may find your tastes have changed just enough to let you appreciate this beer.
I certainly wouldn't put the King Don Pumpkin at the top of my list of favorite Pumpkin beers, but it wasn't awful. There was more pumpkin spice flavor than I remembered. It was entirely drinkable. If you really love the pumpkin beers this time of year and are in the Catawba Valley Brewery distribution area, it is worth a try.