Whole Foods Growlers and Greenport Harbor Brewing Leaf Pile Ale

I take walks through my local Whole Foods and press my nose against the glass of the cheese and cake sections. For obvious reasons, most of what Whole Foods sells is beyond my price-range. But the last time I went, they started offering beer in growlers for decent prices. In particular, they were offering Greenport Harbor Brewing’s Leaf Pile Ale at $7.99 for 64oz.

A weekend before, I found myself in a hotel in Riverhead. Groggy and thirsty, and sitting at the hotel bar, I saw a strange tap handle and asked the bartender what it was. He said, “Greenport Harbor Leaf Pile,” which combination of words made no sense to me, but I wan’t about to not try a new beer on tap. I ordered a pint and was impressed. It was well-spiced with hops, deep ruddy amber in color, and reminded me of an English bitter ale. When I asked the bartender to repeat the name, slowly, so I could peck it down on my phone, I knew I had to look this up whenever I got the hell out of Riverhead.

When I did look it up, I was surprised to find out I had consumed a pumpkin ale. I like pumpkin ales, don’t get me wrong, but they tend to load up on spices that out-weigh the spiciness of the hops. I almost believed that the bartender got it wrong, but in my state, I’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt. None the less, I’d have to say that Leaf Pile Ale is an amazingly tasty pumpkin ale. It was just plain delicious. Whatever spices Greenport Harbor Brewing adds actually add to the entire flavor and body of the beer. In this way, I’d compare it to a Sam Adams Winter Lager, where the spices are so integral to the flavor that it is impossible to make out just what the heck is in there.

So seeing the Leaf Pile at the Whole Foods I was eager to try it again and to bring some home. But in attempting to pour the entire 64oz., the keg tapped-out. Alas. I adapted quickly and asked for a coffee stout, but that too tapped out. While they managed to squeeze 32oz. out of the coffee stout, the nitrogen mix was off. The stout ended up very flat by the time I got it home, so I’m not going to review that. However, a lesson here is to not insist on taking home the bottom of the barrel.

Consider this a standing, extremely positive review of the Greenport Harbor Leaf Pile, and an open opportunity to get a nice local beer on tap from Whole Foods. If I get a chance to get the Greenport elsewhere, I’ll post an update. And the I’ll review the next growler I pick up from Whole Foods, bottom of the barrel or not.