Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Durango Brewing Ghost Train

Perhaps if Charlie Brown (correction: Linus) ever turns 21, he will just sip a Ghost Train instead of waiting all night for the Great Pumpkin to show up.

A new seasonal release from Durango Brewing Co., Ghost Train was brewed with pumpkin spices. A 22-ounce bomber bottle cost me $3.99 at a local liquor store. It’s also on tap at Durango Brewing.

This is the third year Durango Brewing has made Ghost Train, but the first time the brewery has bottled it.

The label is terrifying. A flaming jack o’ lantern forms the head of a train conductor. It’s like something out of a childhood nightmare.

Ghost Train (5.8 percent ABV, 21 IBUs) pours a fair-sized grayish head with a dark body. The carbonation sticks around for a while.

At first taste, Ghost Train has a strong, slightly sweet malt profile. The pumpkin spice kicks in second. Ghost Train is not a hoppy beer. Malt flavors and spice carry this lager.

Ghost Train is based on Durango Dark Lager – in my opinion, the best of DBC’s longtime lineup and among the best year-round beers brewed in Durango. So it’s no surprise that Ghost Train is tasty.

After fermentation, the lager is spiced. “We’re able to dry-pumpkinize it,” said Managing Brewer Scott Bickert, who had some experience brewing pumpkin-spiced beers at Four Peaks Brewing in Arizona.

“No one else I knew was doing one in town,” Bickert said.

Durango Brewing Co. keeps improving, as consecutive years taking home GABF gold medals attests. The brewery’s still-fairly new tap room has given it a visibility and a culture it previously lacked.

Ghost Train is a fine seasonal release, a taste of pumpkin pie in a bottle. It’s too sweet to drink regularly, but that wasn’t the brewery’s intention. Bickert brewed seven barrels of Ghost Train, and only about two barrels remain. Ghost Train ought to go nicely with Thanksgiving dinner - if you can save some. B

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