Pumpkin Ale BBQ wings

Buffalo Wild Wings introduced Pumpkin Ale BBQ wings for the fall. 

Watching Buffalo Wild Wings get into the pumpkin game is kind of like watching a linebacker do ballet. It’s not exactly pretty, but just the fact that he’s doing it is worth watching.

Pumpkin Spice, of course, has been the purview of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts and the like for years, between Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Mochas and what not. It’s made for sweater weather, not jersey weather.

And yet Buffalo Wild Wings debuted its Pumpkin Ale BBQ wings this fall. It sort of makes sense, in that BWW really hits its stride during the fall, when seemingly every one of the 87 TVs in the restaurant is tuned to a different football game. But then, on the other hand, it really does not make sense.

Buffalo Wild Wings seems designed for the business traveler in another city who wants to see their team back home play, but the TV in the hotel room only gets the local game. As someone who once spent a Thanksgiving evening alone at a Dave & Buster’s in Buffalo, New York for this very reason, I do not judge.

Buffalo Wild Wings vaguely describes its Pumpkin Ale BBQ sauce as a mix of “ales, BBQ sauce and pumpkin spice,” which we kind of figured out from the name, genius. It would have been more interesting if the sauce had been rooted in a particular pumpkin ale, like Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, but apparently the Sauce Lab (which is totally a real thing) had other ideas.

For $9.99, I got a “small” order of about 10 wings, which was more than enough. Give Buffalo Wild Wings some credit – they deliver a meaty wing. I was expecting the sauce to be orange, of course, or even more of an ale-like golden brown. But the wing sauce was a surprisingly bright red, almost tomato-like.

The smell wafting from the carton had strong notes of pumpkin, but it wasn’t as strong when it came to the actual taste. It was a milder, more savory flavor than I particularly care for – give me a spicy honey BBQ any day of the week – but it wasn’t bad, exactly. Having 10 of them was kind of a lot, but if it was part of a sampler platter with several other flavors shared with a group, I’d be fine with them.

Pumpkin Ale BBQ Wings will only be available at Buffalo Wild Wings for a little while longer, so if you want a last, weird taste of fall, get out there while you can. Until the Christmas season starts in earnest, when I suppose BBW has a cranberry-holly BBQ sauce ready to go.

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Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.