Sixpoint “Autumnation” Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Sixpoint “Autumnation” Pumpkin Ale is 6.7% ABV.

I poured some of a 16 oz can into a stemless wine glass.

Appearance: A conservative but liberal at the end pour gave two fingers of off white frothy head. This dissipated after about two minutes leaving thick and beautifully patterned lacing on the glass. The color of this is a cloudy rusty light amber. There is light carbonation visible.

Smell: This has an earthy and very grassy hop smell. This dominates most of the smell. There is noticeable spicing, which seems to be mostly ginger as well as some faint pumpkin. (Though I wonder whether this is deluded “I want it to have pumpkin” wish fulfillment.)

Taste: This is a wonderfully earthy and grassy beer. The flavor is dominated by this earthy hops taste, as well as some bitter spices that are peppery. This is like ginger and/or white pepper. There is some light sweetness that the beer imparts towards the middle that has hints of honey. The pumpkin flavor is nothing to speak of. After about a half dozen sips I notice the pumpkin more, but it is certainly not prominent. The finish is very slightly sweet, mildly fizzy, and again, earthy. You get the grassy hops and some of that bitter gingery white peppery spice. The long aftertaste is bitter, and has the spices lingering.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with just enough carbonation for stage setting. The beer also teeters between being coarse (due to the spices and grassy hops) and getting smoother in parts (though the spices eventually drag a bit on the palate).

Drinkability: This isn’t too high in ABV, so there are no major problems there for having a few. (Although with 16 oz cans and 6.8%, it could catch up to you quickly.)  The hops in this beer are sort of course (as is some of the spicing), and so that keeps this from being very drinkable. One good think for its drinkability is that the alcohol doesn’t come through very strong.

Overall: I like this beer, though don’t really think of it as a pumpkin beer. As I noted above, the pumpkin flavor does come through better after some sipping. This also doesn’t have the warm feeling that other (in my view, more successful) pumpkin ales have. This is probably because of the non-standard spicing (that is, not using a lot of pumpkin pie spice). Even so, I like the earthy hops and the peppery spice in this. It is not a super warm feels like fall pumpkin ale. It is textured, and dynamic, and a good alternative to the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. For that it gets good marks.

Overall Rating: ***

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