Monthly Archives: September 2011

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale is 6.0% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a pilsner glass.

Appearance: A liberal pour produced two fingers of off-white fluffy head that dissipated after about five minutes to a quarter inch of frothy foam. This left considerable lacing. The color is a clear, light copper. There are some medium-sized carbonation bubbles racing each other to the top. This looks very carbonated.

Smell: The smell is faint with sweet and bready malts, and some light spicing. The spices that come through are cinnamon and nutmeg. There is no real pumpkin aroma here.

Taste: This is pretty sweet with lots of honey and some toasted malt. There are good strong wheaty notes balanced with the honey, malt and light spices. The spices are similar to the smell. I get some nutmeg and even more cinnamon. There is some pumpkin, though it isn’t very strong. The honey and toasted notes are more forthright than the pumpkin. This finishes with more of the spices and an effervescent and very slightly bitter taste which restrains the honey sweet elements. The aftertaste is just slightly bitter.

Feel: This is medium bodied with moderate to heavy carbonation. It coats the mouth nicely, and has a longish finish. This is overall very smooth.

Drinkability: This has a middle of the road ABV for the style. So there are no issues for drinking a good bit of it. It drinks pretty smoothly, especially given all the honey and toasted wheaty malt that it has. The light spices and just very slightly bitter finish makes this a very easy drinking pumpkin ale.

Overall: I like this beer for an easy drinking pumpkin ale. They did a nice job with the spices, and the carbonation makes this beer dance a little. It is well balanced, though not with any super original flavors. While this is a great beer for an easy drinking pumpkin ale, it falls short of some of the others like Terrapin, Cisco, and Elysian that have more interesting flavors. Considering other beers like Blue Point that are flavorful and have average ABV for the style (but are nothing to really make a fuss over), I think of Stegmaier and Brooklyn. I think Blue Point drinks smoother than Brooklyn, and is more interesting flavor-wise than Stegmaier.

Overall Rating: **1/2

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Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale comes in at 5.5% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A liberal pour gave one finger of fluffy off-white head that dissipated after about a minute. This left very minimal lacing. The color is a hazy and bright honey amber. There is medium carbonation rising, which is visible closer to the sides of the glass.

Smell: This has a lot of yeast and bread notes for the smell. I also get moderately spiced pumpkin, and some light brown sugar. The spices discernible are cinnamon and nutmeg.

Taste: This has caramelized pumpkin, spice, and sweetness. And all of this comes across in what my friend R-bone aptly called a “controlled fashion”. There is light toasted maltiness, and just enough spice to work with the pumpkin flavor. I think the flavors work really well in this one. The finish allows the malty notes to come through more pronounced, leaving a wheaty and slightly bitter aftertaste. This is more in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales.

Feel: This is medium bodied, coating the mouth nicely with the brown sugar sweetness and malts. I was surprised by how enjoyable the feel of this beer was. The carbonation is light to medium, and appropriate.

Drinkability: This drinks very smoothly. The light brown sugar sweetness and caramelized pumpkin keep it smooth, with some carbonation giving it movement. Given the not-too-high ABV, I think this would be a good beer to have a couple of. Even so, it seems that over time the flavors get a bit dull and monotonous.

Overall: This was an enjoyable beer, and sort of a cool surprise to find. I was surprised to find it pretty well-balanced and flavorful. The flavors weren’t that unique, but were enjoyable. It was a decent beer in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. Some downsides were that the flavors were a little one-dimensional, not changing or revealing any more than what you get to start with. I think this beer is more flavorful than those of Saranac and Harpoon, but not as interesting as ones like Ichabod, Terrapin, and Elysian’s “Night Owl”. Even more, I think it drinks better than Brooklyn’s “Post Road”, and is more flavorful than Dock Street’s “Great Pumpkin”.

Overall Rating: **1/2

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New Belgium/Elysian Lips of Faith “Kick” Pumpkin-Cranberry Ale (Notes) (2011)

New Belgium/Elysian “Kick” Pumpkin-Cranberry Ale is 8.5% ABV.

I poured a couple of 22 oz bottles into small 2 oz glasses.

Here are the notes I have about the beer.

I liked the “Kick” in terms of originality in pumpkin ales, but don’t have very much positive to say about it past that. The cranberry was almost entirely overwhelming. This didn’t leave a whole lot of room for pumpkin flavor, or much other flavors characteristic of the pumpkin ale styles. It also wasn’t very smooth. I know a lot of people who like sour ales, and two people who really like this beer. Perhaps it is good if you think of it as a sour ale. For me, I think it misses the mark as a pumpkin ale. And being that I’m not yet into the sour ale style, I can’t give it high marks here either.

I did enjoy sharing this beer with some friends one day. Here are some pictures of that.

Overall Rating: *1/4

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Cape Ann “Fisherman’s” Pumpkin Stout (2011)

Cape Ann Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout comes in at 7.0% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A conservative pour yielded two fingers of light brown head that very quickly dissolved to nothing. The color is very dark brown to almost black. Medium carbonation bubbles are visible rising to the top of the glass.

Smell: The smell has some spices, with lots of roasted malt and some notes of chocolate. I sense some nutmeg, as well some spice that is sort of woody. There is a tinge of fruitiness in the background, perhaps pumpkin.

Taste: Off the bat there is lots of roasted malt, with coffee and chocolate notes. The spice is also there, coming across as it did with the nose: nutmeg-y and woody. There is a background that has a hint of pumpkin in it, though this isn’t very strong at all. I also get strong molasses, adding sweetness, in the middle and towards the end. The taste is mostly creamy and subdued. There is just a small bit of hops bitterness on the finish, which was otherwise mostly malty. The aftertaste had lots of roasted malt and a little of the spice.

Feel: This is light bodied for a stout. It is creamy, but doesn’t coat the mouth very well (and doesn’t hang on the palate very long). The carbonation is also very mild. There is something like a change in feel that you get with the slightly bitter finish. Even so, this is pretty underwhelming in terms of feel. It feels quite mellow.

Drinkability: The ABV is up there, but not too high to keep one from working on a six-pack. (In fact, the 7.0% doesn’t announce itself at all.) And the feel doesn’t weigh down the palate much at all. Even so, I think this one could get boring after awhile. The creaminess is nice, but the drinking experience isn’t very dynamic. I think it is too mellow.

Overall: The flavor is alright with this beer. I like it, and I like that it has some interesting elements. The malt, molasses and woody spices go well together. For a stout, I wouldn’t seek it out. For a good beer to pair with dinner, I would think about it around pumpkin beer season. It could be a nice alternative to the very many non-dark pumpkin beers, though the pumpkin definitely seems lacking in this one; You can sense a presence of pumpkin, but a timid one. I’d say decent in terms of flavor, but not complex enough.

Overall Rating: **1/4

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Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale (Notes) (2011)

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale comes in at 5.2% ABV.

I had this beer at one of my friend’s houses. I poured a 12 oz bottle into a tall glass.

It poured into the glass an orange/amber with some initial, but quickly disappearing head. It smelled like the traditional pumpkin pie spices, and had a faint pumpkin aroma. The smell of the spices had an almost cheap quality to them. The taste was not as bad, but didn’t do a whole lot for me. It was borderline weak, and had more of a tart cidery taste than a rich pumpkin ale taste. This is one of the original widely distributed pumpkin ales in the US craft beer market, and so something that I wished was better. A lot of folks speak positively about this beer. That’s cool, but it’s not for me.

Overall Rating: *

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Southern Tier “Pumking” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Southern Tier “Pumking” Imperial Pumpkin Ale joins us at 8.6% ABV.

I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: An easy pour with a bit of gusto at the end produced just 1 finger of frothy almost white head. This quickly dissolved away to what looked like a small dollop of foam, along with medium lacing. The color on this is a pretty clear bright orange/copper, with just a bit of haziness. This has what looks to be medium to heavy carbonation.

Smell: This smells wonderful. It smells sweet, with some very powerful buttery graham cracker. There is also lots of pumpkin, and some moderate spicing of nutmeg and allspice. This smells very much like pumpkin pie (in fact, even better). This smell is the most inviting of all the pumpkin ales I’ve smelled.

Taste: The pumpkin pie taste is powerful and wonderful, just as the nose suggests. I also get a good amount of vanilla, along with the sweet pumpkin pie flavor. The graham cracker and gingerbread crust is also prominent in the taste. This beer begins gingerbready-sweet, and finishes dryer with nutmeg and allspice. The aftertaste has a tinge of bitterness, which helps to balance out the sweetness and invite one towards another sip. This tastes more like pumpkin pie than I thought possible in a beer.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with a sugary sweetness that isn’t too heavy or syrupy. It feels quite silky (and even sort of buttery) on the palate. The tame dry finish also helps a lot with keeping this relatively light on the palate (in terms of feel). The carbonation is medium to high, but not distracting. While the powerful pumpkin pie flavors are working, the carbonation dances a bit on the tongue. (Did I just type that?)

Drinkability: This is quite drinkable, buttery, and (again) not draining on the palate.The only impediment to really working through it is the higher ABV, coming in at 8.6%. Last year, this beer was 9%. I’m not sure what changed. Regardless, you wouldn’t know about the high ABV of this beer from the experience of sipping it (to start with). I will have no problem finishing this 22 (other than missing it when it is gone).

Overall: I quite enjoy this beer. I looked forward to tasting it again this year, and bought it minutes after it was delivered at one of my local beer stores. It is one that I always recommend to folks that want an outrageoesuly flavorful pumpkin beer that is like pumpkin pie. It is smooth and buttery, unbelievably flavorful- the pumpkin doesn’t get hidden or lose its courage, and dynamic in terms of feel. It is certainly sweet, but I don’t think too sweet. The little bit of the spicy dry finish really restrains the sweetness. I don’t really know how to criticize this beer. Some don’t like it, which I think may mostly stem from whether they like the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ale to begin with. I love enjoying this beer with people for their first time. What a pumpkin beer!

Overall Rating: ****3/4

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Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale comes in at 8.0% ABV.

I poured most of a 12 oz bottle into a stemless wine glass.

Appearance: A hearty pour yielded two fingers of light tan head that very quickly dissipated, leaving some more foamy lacing on the side of the glass. The color was a deep red-amber, with some light haziness. Moderate carbonation bubbles are visible upon close inspection.

Smell: The smell gives strong spices, then pumpkin. The spices that come across are nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon, and something sort of peppery. There is also some graham cracker and toasted malt. The smell also has a sort of boozy dimension. Overall, this is warm and inviting.

Taste: This has strong flavor. I first get a peppery and spicy pumpkin flavor, and then some malt and a nice sweet graham cracker taste. The spices are assertive, and similar to how they were in the nose (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves). The… peppery element was more prounounced. Perhaps this was Weyerbacher’s addition of coriander. This adds a nice element to cut the malty sweet pumpkin flavor that many pumpkin beers boast. This is a lot like pumpkin pie with an after dinner drink. And it is complex. The finish is light-brown-sugar-sweet and tingly, with some carbonation dancing a bit. This is quite flavorful, complex, warm, and slightly boozy.

Feel: This is medium bodied, and pretty smooth and clean for the alcohol and sugar in it. It doesn’t come across as too alcohol-forward, or too syrupy. There is something sort of sticky with the aftertaste that appears related to the sugar. The carbonation is nice, and certainly prominent. This adds an enjoyable dimension to the drinking of the beer.

Drinkability: This beer drinks well. It is not too heavy on the pallate. More than likely, the ABV will catch up to you. But this is an impressive one, especially given the high ABV. Even so, the booziness that does come across is a slight drawback.

Overall: This beer is very good. The flavor is there with spices and pumpkin, and the coriander adds a nice dimension that accents the standard pumpkin pie spices. This keeps things from being boring. You then get malty elements, sweet elements, and a final tingling with the sugary carbonation. This is really enjoyable, and a must try. The booziness is a clear drawback, as is the somewhat sticky quality that comes with the aftertaste. Even so, this is impressive. I think this is in the same league as Shipyard’s “Smashed Pumpkin”, but not quite as good. “Smashed Pumpkin” is also a bit boozy, but it isn’t as heavy on the spices. This allows the pumpkin to be more prominent and the flavors to be, so I think, a bit more pumpkiny and enjoyable.

Overall Rating: ***3/4

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