Williamsburg Alewerks Pumpkin Ale (2011)

The Williamsburg Alewerks Pumpkin Ale sits at 7.3% ABV.

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

Appearance: A conservative, liberal-at-the-end pour yielded virtually no head, but a very thin layer of off-white bubbles that turned into a delicate ring around the glass. The color is a relatively bright orange/copper, and it is quite clear. This revealed well the moderate carbonation rising throughout the glass.

Smell: There is a sweet roasted pumpkin malt smell, with caramel characteristics. There is also hearty spicing, but it isn’t so overpowering. The prominent ones are cinnamon and nutmeg, with elements of spiced apple. This smells pretty sweet, also having a pretty strong cidery smell. In fact, this smells much more like apple cider than pumpkin pie.

Taste: The taste is quite distinct from the nose on this one. The beer is sweet, with lots of roasted pumpkin. There is very clear brown sugar in here, and it comes across with sweet malty notes. You also get the cinnamon and nutmeg that come across in the smell. The spices are strong. Even so, they are balanced by the pumpkin flavor, and are more forthright with the aftertaste. The flavor is much more like pumpkin pie. Still this beer isn’t too sweet. The carbonation comes at the end with a tinge of bitterness and something earthy like wheatgrass. It becomes effervescent. This gives a nice semi-dry finish that has a little bite.

Feel: It is medium bodied, again with medium carbonation that exerts itself in a seltzery way. The beer coats the mouth nicely and is very silky and smooth. It is a little syrupy, but quite soothing.

Drinkability: This beer is quite drinkable, with the higher ABV being somewhat of an impediment to polishing off a six-pack. Another factor that may also keep one from… crushing it is sweetness. This could get too heavy over time. Still, this beer goes down very nicely. It tells nothing of it’s high ABV.

Overall: What an impressive beer, and a wonderful experience to drink. It is well balanced with lots of sweetness, and a bitter seltzery finish that restrains the sweetness. The pumpkin is there. Oh the pumpkin! The probably very heavy dose of spice added doesn’t come across as overpowering, I think in part because of the strong caramelized pumpkin taste. I will quite enjoy finishing this beer. It speaks Fall! I think of this as a must try. I’m glad it is a (relatively) local beer. Go Virginia beer!

Overall Rating: ****1/4

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