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Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Where Spotted: Wine Specialist, 2115 M St. NW

Price: $10.99/4-pack

It all comes out in the SQUASH: October is a national holiday for the food press, which celebrates the unofficial pumpkin season with recipes for pies and tarts, soups and curries, invariably spiced into oblivion. But just as Jeffrey Steingarten harrumphs that “promiscuous use of cinnamon has made us forget the true taste of apples” in The Man Who Ate Everything, so, I put forth, has the omnipresent spice obscured from our palates the true taste of pumpkin.

PUNKIN brewster: For those willing to stand up for a pumpkin’s right to choose, Dogfish Head offers its Punkin Ale, a balanced, prismatic interpretation of the vegetable. Yes, the beer is brewed with brown sugar, nutmeg, and even cinnamon, and all these flavors are detectable. But whereas most pumpkin beers are Manischewitz-sweet, Punkin is merlot; where others are spiked like gingerbread, this one is a soothing chai. So if you can keep a case of it around until Thanksgiving, let its mellow, vegetal sweetness compliment the turkey and stuffing, and save the sweet stuff for last.

Seen an interesting quaff lately? E-mail beerspotter@washingtoncitypaper.com