Midnight Sun “Trickster” Belgian-style Pumpkin Ale is 7% ABV.
I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: A pour with a bit of splash gave 2 fingers of thick and frothy off-white foam. This had great retention, and, within the first 5-7 minutes, only dissipated a bit towards the center of the foamy cloud. It maintained strong contact along the sides of the glass. The color of this offering is a fairly hazy, bordering on murky, burnt orange/amber. Carbonation bubbles rising suggest heavy carbonation.
Smell: With this up to my nose, I’m greeted with some earthy and slightly funky Belgian yeast, some nice citrus, as from orange, some vegetal squash, some almost minty hops, some pleasant nicely balanced spicing, and a rounded sweetness as from honey and some light Belgian candi sugar. For spicing, I think I get some ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. This has just a great and complex aroma.
Taste: This bursts with flavor up front: juicy orange, earthy yeast with white pepper, honey, and some vegetal pumpkin. It is a bit sweeter, and has more orange and sweet citrus than I was expecting. This nicely complements the pumpkin and the white-pepper-like earth and Belgian yeast. The spices, as in the nose, seem to have ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. The spices have a distinct nuttiness that I associate with cardamom. The pumpkin is notable and fairly present, and the sweetness gives me more citrus and honey than anything else. As this finishes, the earth and yeast take hold a little more and linger with a pleasant fine-particulate earthy bitterness in the aftertaste, like softer white pepper. Great flavor, nice complexity, and not as funky as it smelled.
Feel: I really like the feel of this one. It has good complexity from the smooth citrus and honey, to the mild sourness of the pumpkin, and then the earth and nuttiness from the yeast and the spices. Smooth on the palate with some some spice and yeast adding structure, and grabbing more of the palate for a semi-dry finish.
Drinkability: For a style with stronger yeast, I think it drinks really well. The strong sweet orange citrus and the smooth honey help this out a bit here. The strong fine-particulate bitterness that hangs a lot on the palate does hold this one back a little bit. Even so, it is pretty darn drinkable.
Overall: This is a successful Belgian pumpkin offering. I love Belgian and Belgian-style offerings. And I enjoy pumpkin beers! Some of my two favorite things. I’ve also known about this beer and it has taken a while for me to finally make it happen to try it. This was worth a try, but not something I’ll work too hard to get. It is also a bit pricey, even before shipping. I have to facilitate getting this beer from CA, as it is not distributed on the east coast. It is made in Anchorage. In any case, it reminds me a bit of Hardywood Park’s Farmhouse Pumpkin. As for comparison, this one is less funky, and not really in the farmhouse style. This doesn’t have as much strong or roasty pumpkin as the Hardywood, but is a bit sweeter and has more smooth honey. If you like the Belgian yeast, and like farmhouse ales, Hardywood Park’s Farmhouse Pumpkin is the way to go (if you can get it- it is an East Coast beer from Richmond, Virginia). If you prefer more of a sweet orange and more sessionable Belgian-style beer with toned down earth and funk, this would be your ticket. But again, it is not something I’ll work for, and in my opinion a bit pricey.
Overall Rating: ***1/2
To make this beer, they use pumpkin, Belgian yeast, and a spice blend of allspice, black pepper, and ginger.