The Slop and Prison Wine and Pumpkin Beers

When I was in high school, obviously, alcohol was a bit harder for us to come by.

Obviously, we had our opportunities, when a friend’s older brother maybe was in town, or when we were clued in to some party in the woods somewhere where someone had procured a precious keg.

But, also, sometimes we took matters into our own hands.

I had a buddy Matt, who had a recipe on a yellowed sheet of loose leaf paper.  The end product of that recipe was a concoction that was fondly referred to as “the Slop.”  While I can’t recount the full ingredients list, it involved juice, and sugar, and yeast, and a cooler that was left alone in the forest somewhere to ferment for a bunch of weeks and do its thing.  And we drank the Slop and it was good.

Well, let’s redefine the term “good.”  It was alcohol and we made it and it was ours to drink.  And perhaps that was what was truly good about it.  Not the mouthfeel, or the hints or nuances.  We’d mix it with iced tea, or apple juice, or something to make it taste less like embalming fluid mixed with gummy bears, and then voila!  We was a drinkin’.

(What does this have to do with pumpkin beers and seasonal ales?  Bear with me, faithful readers).

The Slop was, in a certain parlance, our high school forest equivalent of prison wine.  Maybe a bit more elegant than a sock filled with yeast and orange slices hidden behind a toilet tank, but, yet, also maybe not so much.

To me, pumpkin beer is the craft equivalent of prison wine.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing but fond memories of my time slugging down the Slop in the wee hours of the night, in dark places with my friends.  And to me, pumpkin beer is the beer that tastes most like it was cooked up by enterprising and thirsty young kids trying to turn no-beer-nights into a fall festival.

This week, I’m drinking the Brooklyn Brewery’s “Post Road” Pumpkin Ale.

Not brewed in the woods by delinquent teens, to my knowledge


From those fine folks, ITBMCBB*, comes a drink that “use[s] a touch of spices and pounds of real pumpkins to create a warm but surprisingly crisp spin on the traditional pumpkin ales made by American colonists.”

This is a fine fall beer, with the right amount of pumpkinery. And like so many other products offered by the Brooklyn Brewing Company, this beer hits all the points you’d expect it to. I got to meet some of these folks when they had a table set up at the Great New York State Fair and I gushed about my love for their Brown Ale, their Bel Air Sour, and their various IPAs. I’ve yet to have a beer that these folks put out there that I wouldn’t buy again.

But here’s the thing. I’ll also go about 10 months without drinking a pumpkin beer and I will miss it about as much as I miss the Slop. Nothing against these guys, or anyone who puts out a pumpkin beer. But sometimes prison wine is best left out in the woods in that cooler.

I’m going to blow the dust of the ol’ Proseinator and let it bring this review home.

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