Star Hill’s “Boxcar” Pumpkin Porter is 5.2% ABV.
I poured the entirety of a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance: A conservative-at-the-beginning, very liberal-at-the-end pour gave a light brown 1-finger head that after five minutes shrank to a third of its size. This left a thin and creamy barely-there head that hung on to the side of the glass, which continued to dissipate. The color is very dark brown to almost black. This beer is opaque, looking much more like a stout than a porter. Just a few tiny carbonation bubbles are visible at the bottom of the glass, touching the side of the glass. There isn’t much carbonation here.
Smell: There is heavy spice upfront, with some sour-ish pumpkin notes. The smell is mostly dominated by clove and nutmeg, as well as some very clearly discernible pumpkin. It doesn’t smell much like a porter.
Taste: Roasted coffee-ish malt upfront, followed by prominent spicing (mainly clove) with the pumpkin flavor. You can identify the pumpkin in this, which hangs on for a bit with the clove in the finish. The pumpkin is more difficult to focus on upfront, especially with the first couple sips, when compared to the finish. It does eventually come through, though. The taste is a bit light on the palate for a porter.
Feel: It is light to medium bodied for a porter, with a small amount of carbonation. The beer has some creamy quality to it that coats the mouth, but this is too thin to hang on for long.
Drinkability: This beer is not difficult to drink, but I’m not inclined to have very many. It is low enough in ABV, but exhibits a kind of flatness both in flavor and feel that seems like it could get boring after awhile (even compared to drinking something in the style of a PBR). It is dark, but doesn’t have the feel or flavor of a dark beer. It also doesn’t have the refreshing quality one gets with a much lighter pilsner. Seems like it is in a kind of no man’s land.
Overall: I don’t see anything particularly wrong with this beer, but it is not a favorite of mine. It is certainly a fine beer to have with a meal, or while watching a game. I wouldn’t want many, and I really wouldn’t seek it out. It could be a good middle-of-the-road pumpkin beer if one wanted something a little darker than the standard light pumpkin ales, like Buffalo Bill’s or Saranac’s. Though if you put the darkness/lightness elements to the side, this may not be preferable to Saranac. Saranac is about 3 bucks cheaper than the 9-10 bucks this goes for per six-pack. For a middle-of-the-road beer that is a little flat in terms of flavor, this is priced a bit high.