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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