Abbatacola’s Craft Beer Review: Prickly Pear, Scarlet Fire & Vanilla Pumpkin

By Matt Abbatacola–

(CBS) Hello beer friends. I hope all is well. Let me know which beers you are enjoying lately. Here are three beers for your consideration and as always, I appreciate your feedback.

Follow me @MattAbbatacola on Twitter and friend me on the Untappd app — MattAbbatacola.

As a reminder, here are the criteria that go into the review.

Spoetzl Brewery’s Shiner Prickly Pear — $$

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This beer is brewed with the fruit of the prickly pear and has a 4.9% ABV.

It has a deep amber color with barely any head and had a medium carbonation. The aroma was strong — sweet and fruity. The prickly pear was powerful and reminded me of a prickly pear soda.

It’s light with very little mouthfeel. The taste isn’t as sweet as the aroma might indicate. It’s still juicy and slighty tart but very mild. This would be a solid beer when sitting outside on a hot sunny day. Shiner Prickly Pear is a light, easy-to-drink brew with a bit of fruit flavor.

The Shiner labels are all pretty basic.

Overall score: 6

Tighthead’s Scarlet Fire Red Ale — $$

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Scarlet Fire is an Irish/American style red ale. The name is a reference to two Grateful Dead songs — “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain.” As with all the Tighthead labels, the artwork is outstanding. It has a 5.6% ABV.

It pours with a deep reddish-amber color. It’s clear with low carbonation and has a thin white head that dissipates quickly. It has an aroma of roasted malt.

This beer is delicious and will be added to my regular rotation when I want a red ale in my stock. It’s clean and well-balanced. It has a mild and an easy-to-drink toasty malted and bready flavor. Try this brew, it’s a nice change-of-pace beer.

Overall score: 8

O’Fallon Vanilla Pumpkin — $$

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This is O’Fallon’s pumpkin ale with a vanilla flavor added and has a 5.6% ABV.

It pours a hazy orange-amber color with a white head and medium carbonation. The aroma is delicious — cinnamon, mild sweet vanilla and pumpkin. It smells like pumpkin pie in a glass.

It’s not overly sweet or too pumpkin-y in flavor. It’s balanced and delicious. It finishes slightly spicy with a hint of cinnamon and is clean and crisp.

It has a cool label, and if their other new pumpkin beers are as good as the vanilla pumpkin, this is a variety pack you will need to get this fall.

Overall score: 8

O’Fallon’s other pumpkin beers include apple cinnamon, a pumpkin cream stout and peach pumpkin. Also separate from the variety pack is their Imperial Pumpkin — a wheatwine.

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I also wanted to include a recipe with today’s beer reviews. This is my own recipe inspired by Third Rail Tavern’s pepper soup. Enjoy this easy-to-make soup with a Mexican style lager or even a mild sour beer.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage (mild or spicy — your preference)
5 cloves of garlic – minced
1 medium white or yellow onion – diced
3 green peppers – cored and diced
1 (15oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 (150z) cans of tomato sauce
1 cup of cooked rice
12-18 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano & paprika
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper (to taste)

— Brown the beef and sausage. As they cook, add salt and pepper and 1/2 tablespoon each of the garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and paprika.

— When the meat is cooked through, don’t drain. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened, then add the can of diced tomatoes with the juice — saute a few more minutes.

— Add the chicken broth. For a thicker soup, add 12 cups. For a thinner soup, add 18 cups.

— Add both cans of tomato sauce and stir.

— Add the peppers and rice then the rest of the seasoning. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed.

— Bring to a boil, stirring often so rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, then let simmer for at least an hour.

— For best results, after an hour of simmering, take off the heat and let it cool. Refrigerate overnight, then the next day, skim the fat off the top — it will congeal and will be easy to remove.

— Reheat and serve with shredded cheese (Parmesan cheese is my favorite for this soup and what they used at Third Rail) and a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Give it a try and enjoy.

Matt Abbatacola is a producer, host and update anchor at 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MattAbbatacola and email him at Matt@670thescore.com.

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