Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hardywood Park “Farmhouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Hardywood Park “Farmhouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale comes in at 8.5% ABV.

I poured some of a 750 ml bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: A careful pour gave three fingers of light tan bubbly head that hung on for a few minutes, slowly dissipating to a thin foam with medium lacing. The color is a just-slightly-cloudy bright orange/copper. The carbonation appears medium to heavy in this one.

Smell: I get pumpkin, spices, and some botanical elements. The spices prominent are cinnamon and cloves, with some punchy ginger. The nose is quite yeasty, and definitely has that farmhouse smell. It is citrusy, sort of warm, and inviting.

Taste: There is really strong pumpkin, and a citrusy and yeasty body. The spices are complementing the pumpkin, though not overwhelming it. And the farmhouse elements are not lacking. It is yeasty, citrusy, sweet but not syrupy, and effervescent. It has some light brown sugary sweetness, and a crisp and refreshing finish. The aftertaste has a little of the spices, and some bitter notes.

Feel: Medium bodied, with a lot of carbonation. Even after I take a sip, I can hear it fizzing off of my tongue. It coats the mouth well, and has a dynamic feel. The beginning is punchy and a bit sweet. Towards the end you get some effervescent carbonation, which leaves little dull notes of bitter.

Drinkability: This beer is quite flavorful with a dynamic feel. Because of this, it drinks pretty nicely. Even so, the alcohol noticeably comes through; The 8.5 ABV comes through clearer than one may want.

Overall: I love farmhouse ales, and really like pumpkin beer. So this is something like the best of two worlds for me. I like the citrusy and yeasty notes in this. The pumpkin flavor is powerful, and is accented by the spice. In terms of flavor, this is quite good. And even the feel is dynamic, being smooth with some sugar, and having bitterness and punchiness. I think the alcohol drags a bit much, and detracts from the otherwise really pleasant experience. I think this is a great beer, along the lines of Shipyard’s “Smashed Pumpkin”. Though in comparison, I like the “Smashed Pumpkin” just a little better qua pumpkin beer. “Smashed Pumpkin” does better as a pumpkin beer, in part because of its richness and warmth. The Hardywood could be just as good as a Summer beer. Regardless, if you can get the Hardywood, which runs for about 10 bucks a bottle, I say do it!

Overall Rating: ***3/4

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Heavy Seas “The Great Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2011)


Heavy Seas “The Great Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale sits at 8.0% ABV.

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

Appearance: A liberal pour gave between 2 and 3 fingers of light tan foamy head that dissipated over the course of about 5 minutes. This left pretty thick lacing that clung to the glass during the retreat, and about a dollop of foam at the end. The color on this is a bright burnt orange. This was cloudy, and seemd to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: I noticed a lot of spice up front, with some caramel-like malt and strong yeasty notes. The spices noticeable are cinnamon, nutmeg, and a lot of clove. There is decent pumpkin smell there, though it takes a backseat to the spices. This also had some very clear booziness.

Taste: This is very bready up front, also having lots of malt and spices. The pumpkin comes through pretty well, and isn’t as overwhelmed by spice as the nose might suggest. The spicing has some peppery notes to it, perhaps some ginger thrown in. This also has some caramel sweetness, which does a decent job at combating the booziness. Even so, there is some booziness on the taste. The finish is sweet and malty, which leaves a spicy aftertaste that is more punchy and coarse. This is a strongly flavored pumpkin ale with relatively overt alcohol.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium carbonation. This has some nice warmth to it. The overall feel is candy-like, like sucking on a malty jolly rancher.

Drinkability: This has 8.0% ABV, and comes across as boozy. So I don’t think it gets great marks for drinkability. The strong flavors make it enjoyable to drink. Even so, this is more sluggish for drinkability than many others.

Overall: I like this beer. It is a flavorful pumpkin ale. For the heavy hitters (that is, beers with high flavor and ABV), I think it is a bit low on the totem pole. It isn’t as smooth as say, Dofish Head’s “Punkin” or Hoppin Frog’s “Frog’s Hollow”. Nor is the flavor profile all that unique. Even so, this is nice and warm. It is good, despite it’s booziness.

Overall Rating: ***

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Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is 6.0% ABV.

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

Appearance: A light pour produced about a finger of light tan head that dissipated after about 2 minutes. This left only a small ring around the glass with some thin lacing. The color of this beer was a cloudy orange/amber, which revealed moderate carbonation.

Smell: The nose gives of some vegetal pumpkin, strong pumpkin pie spices, and very clear hops. The spices discernible are nutmeg, allspice, and little cinnamon. This smelled hoppy and inviting.

Taste: This has some bitterness up front as a result of the almost peppery spicing. I also get some bready malt. After this, the hops came through a bit and lasted towards the finish. This added a smoother kind of bitterness than experienced at the beginning. The pumpkin is still noticeable in the taste, though it is certainly more subdued than in the nose. There is also some very timid honey like sweetness that seems to act as a binder. The finish is hoppier with some bitterness, which left a slightly chalky aftertaste. The taste of this beer is nice and balanced. The hops aren’t too aggressive, and the spice is more mellow than the nose would suggest.

Feel: This is medium bodied with medium carbonation. It coats the mouth decently, and feels sort of round. The carbonation makes the feel of this almost fizzy, which is only a good thing here.

Drinkability: I think this is quite a drinkable pumpkin ale. It comes off as well-balanced, with no particular dimension hitting you in the face. It is pretty smooth, and the ABV isn’t too high to work your way through a few of these. I give it good marks here.

Overall: I like this beer. I’ve had it in years past and also liked it then. It seems to be a consistently enjoyable pumpkin ale. The balanced hops and spices are enjoyable, and the pumpkin isn’t completely lost. Even so, I would have liked a bit more pumpkin. I find that this is relatively mellow, and because of the lack of a real powerful pumpkin presence, nothing really exciting or unique. This is a good hoppier alternative to similar beers like Brooklyn’s “Post Road” or Stegmaier’s pumpkin ale.

Overall Rating: **1/2

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Wolaver’s Organic Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Wolaver’s Organic Pumpkin Ale comes in at 5.4% ABV.

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

Appearance: A conservative pour yielded a little bit of off-white head that quickly dissolved. This left just a little bit of thin lacing. The color is a very cloudy orange/copper. Minimal carbonation is visible.

Smell: The smell is faint and citrusy, with a little bit of pumpkin and some nice spicing. My friend R-bone compared this to a strong orange smell. I think this is right. The spicing I notice has ginger and coriander, with some light cinnamon.

Taste: This has a very clean pumpkin taste, with restrained spicing and some solid citrus/orange flavor. The spices are as they were in the nose, getting across ginger, coriander, and light cinnamon. The pumpkin flavor is impressively strong, especially for such a clean tasting ale. This is sweet, though that is balanced by the citrus. It also has some good underlying malt notes. The finish is spicy with lots of ginger. This leaves a very slightly sour aftertaste. This tastes very nice.

Feel: This is medium bodied, and pretty creamy. It coats the mouth nicely, and isn’t coarse because of its spicing (like so many overly-spiced pumpkin ales can be). It has very modest carbonation, which is just enough for the requisite stage setting (though nothing to hog the spotlight).

Drinkability: This is an incredibly drinkable pumpkin ale. The pumpkin and spices work really well with the citrus and sweet notes. The ABV also isn’t too high for having a good number of these.

Overall: I find this to be quite an enjoyable pumpkin ale. It is spicy, but not too heavily spiced. The spices are also crisp, and discernible on their own. They don’t meld together like those spice profiles often slated as having “pumpkin pie spices”. This beer is also quite clean, in a really interesting way. The pumpkin flavor is there, but not obscured or lost in too heavy spicing or flavors. I find this to be the best of the easy drinking pumpkin ales I’ve had. The higher ABVs tend to be the ones that are really flavorful. This one blew me away.

Overall Rating: ***1/2

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Shock Top “Pumpkin Wheat” Belgian-style Wheat Ale (2011)

Shock Top “Pumpkin Wheat” Belgian-style Wheat Ale comes in at 5.2% ABV.

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

Appearance: A hearty pour left a half-finger of cream colored head that quickly dissipated to leave no noticeable lacing. The color is a very hazy orange/amber. There is also moderate to heavy carbonation visible.

Smell: I smell heavy roasted malt, and some punchy fall spices up front. The spices I get are cinnamon and allspice doing a lot of work, as well as some nutmeg and clove that are not as prominent. This gives the more traditional pumpkin pie spice aroma, but in a more punchy way- like fresh ginger does. (“It stings the nostrils”.) There is also some pumpkin in the aroma, but it takes a backseat to the malt and spices.

Taste:  Up front I get vegetal pumpkin (certainly more than the nose suggested), along with the spices. The spices have a sort of white-pepper character, similar to the smell. The malt comes across as strong, but less roasty than the smell hinted at. There is also a tame hops presence, which adds a little bit of character to this beer.

Feel: This beer is light to medium bodied, and has medium carbonation. It, like other wheat ales, was sort of crisp, and had a dry finish.

Drinkability: The wheat ale elements in this pumpkin ale add a little bit (though not a lot) to an otherwise uninteresting beer. Drinking it allows a light and refreshing experience. It is also low in ABV, which enables one to have a few and not get too weighed down.

Overall: I found this beer to be alright, but nothing much to talk about. The wheat-ale style adds something that sets this beer apart from others in the same camp (i.e., the low-abv, traditionally spiced, not super rich pumpkin ales camp). This is effervescent and sort of fun, but not a stand up pumpkin ale.

Overall Rating: *1/2

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Uinta “Punk’n” Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Notes) (2011)

Uinta “Punk’n” Harvest Pumpkin Ale comes in at 4.0% ABV.

I had this beer when I was not expecting to drink any pumpkin beer in Richmond. I poured a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

This beer was a difficult one for me to not like, especially since people tend to have good things to say about Uinta. I found this beer to be quite boring and bland. The vegetal pumpkin taste was barely there, as was the spicing. I thought there may be some minute amount of cinnamon put in. The very weak flavors were not bad, though. Suprisingly, even the carbonation seemed to be lacking in this beer. The main plus here, so I say, is that it is sessionable.

Overall Rating: *

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Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale hits the ground at 5.7% ABV.

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

Appearance: A conservative pour yielded 1 finger of light brown head that very quickly dissolved. This left a little bit of very thin lacing. The color is a dark reddish amber. There were some small bubbles visible, revealing light to moderate carbonation.

Smell: The smell has sweet and breaty malt, and moderate spicing. The spices that come through are cinnamon, nutmeg, and strong allspice. There is also some light brown sugar, but no real discernible pumpkin.

Taste: I taste bready malt up front, followed by some pumpkin flavor combined with considerable brown sugar sweetness. The spices come closer to the finish and hit pretty strong, bringing some nutmeg and a lot of allspice. The finish is heavy on the spice, and this brings a very dulled spicy aftertaste. The flavors are overall pretty malty, with brown sugar and dense spicing.

Feel: This is a medium bodied ale with light to medium carbonation. It doesn’t coat the mouth very much, but comes across in the finish as slightly sticky and dry.

Drinkability: This is not an undrinkable pumpkin beer, but it is not smooth or a mentionably good drink. It is sort of chalky, with the spices becoming monotonous and heavy. The ABV is middle of the road for the style, providing no impediments to having a few. Even so, it doesn’t drink very smoothly.

Overall: I’m not big on this beer. The spices are montonous, and too heavy. They hang on the palate, and create an unpleasant experience over time. The pumpkin flavor also gets lost in this, especially since there isn’t much else going on in terms of taste. I think this beer is overly-spiced, and sort of boring. It isn’t so much an offensive flavor as it is just not anything to speak of.

Overall Rating: *1/2

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