Hoppin’ Frog “Frog’s Hollow” Double Pumpkin Ale (2011)

Hoppin’ Frog “Frog’s Hollow” Double Pumpkin Ale hits an impressive 8.4% ABV.

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

Appearance: A not too liberal pour yielded hardly any head, which all dissolved. The color of this was a hazy but bright and deep orange with a tint of amber. Some moderate carbonation bubbles were visible. This looked bright and inviting.

Smell: The smell has good crisp spices and strong vegetal pumpkin. I noticed considerable nutmeg, as well as allspice and some cinnamon. This beer also smells very sweet, and has mentionable alcohol notes. I also get some malt (after a few visits).

Taste: This tasted more malty than I would expect, and is considerably buttery. It had good amounts of vegetal pumpkin, with the spices being a bit more subtle than on the nose. There is still the nutmeg which champions over the other spices. There is also quite a bit of vanilla. This beer has a profound brown sugar sweetness that is raisin-like. (I think this sweetness is similar to that of Dogfish Head’s Raison d’Etre.) And, as in the nose, there is some booziness. This finishes  more mellow with that raisiny-sweetness, and leaves a vegetal pumpkin aftertaste with strong spice.

Feel: This is medium bodied, and coats the palate decently. It is a bit buttery, and has some boozy notes. It has minimal carbonation. Overall it feels somewhat warm.

Drinkability: This is both up there for ABV, and for having noticeable alcohol coming through. The fact that there is a ton of flavor here helps that. The strong sweetness also makes this drink a bit smoother. Even so, this is not something I would rate highly for drinkability.

Overall: I like this beer. It has tons of flavor and a lot of spice. I think it may be a bit too heavily spiced. But luckily the pumpkin isn’t completely overwhelmed. I like how the sweetness comes across as more unique than just your standard brown sugar flavored pumpkin ale, as well as the fact that there is strong vanilla thrown in. I also like the (at first) strong malt.  This is enjoyable. Even so, the spices take a bit too much of the stage after repeated sips. The sweetness is also a bit too much. It would have been nice to have something to restrain the sweetness. The booziness is also a noticeable detraction. The flavors in this beer are good, but the sweetness and spices get the better of the other flavors. I think of this one as among the ranks of Heavy Seas’ “The Great Pumpkin” and Dogfish Head’s “Punkin”. In fact, it is more flavorful than those. I like it less than what I think of as the more sophisticated Weyerbacher, which seems to control sweetness a bit better. When I visited this brewery in Akron, they told me that it was difficult to make this beer, and that they use pizza ovens to get the pumpkins baked. This reflects serious commitment. Even so, at 10 bucks per 22 oz, I’d more certainly opt for a Southern Tier “Pumking” 22 oz (which is 3-4 bucks cheaper) or a 22 oz of Shipyard’s “Smashed Pumpkin” (which is similarly priced but much more balanced).

Overall Rating: ***1/4

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