Monthly Archives: September 2012

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is 5.84% ABV.

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

Appearance: A steady pour gave about a finger of thin off-white head that dissipated into almost nothing, leaving some thin lacing along the sides of the glass. The color is a fairly cloudy light orange. This seems to have medium carbonation.

Smell: To start I get forthright hops, some vegetal pumpkin, and some spicing. There are some lemony notes that hang around the hops and the pumpkin. There is a light honey sweetness hanging in the background. The spices, which seem to consist of cinnamon and maybe some allspice, are there but aren’t as forthright as the hops. The hops are the most prominent in the smell. This smells good.

Taste: At the front I get strong vegetal pumpkin, lemony hops, and bitter spicing. The spicing is certainly on the bitter side, and seems to have some cinnamon, clove, and perhaps something else earthy going on. The sweetness is enjoyable and bright with light honey. As I sip this, the fragrance of the hops and the strong vegetal pumpkin balance nicely with each other. This finishes on the sweet side, with some bright citrus notes coming through. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and holds on to some fairly clear pumpkin flavor.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium carbonation. The feel is nice and has some decent complexity to it. The bright citrus, vegetal pumpkin, hops, and spices each do some work to contribute to the feel. This starts out smooth and bright, then allows more of the bitterness to come through towards the end. Enjoyable feel.

Drinkability: This fairs fairly well for drinkability. The flavors are decently well-balanced, and the light-honey sweetness and bright flavors allow smooth easy sipping. The bitterness from the spices hang on some after the taste, but this isn’t a major problem. I could definitely sit down with a few of these.

Overall: This is an enjoyable pumpkin ale. The flavors are well-balanced and bright in parts. I like the hops presence, and that the spicing adds some complexity but doesn’t totally overwhelm. The honey-like sweetness also makes it pretty smooth and drinkable. What I don’t like as much is, as with many others, the lingering bitter notes. This beer, of course, doesn’t have the most original or unique pumpkin flavors. It is pretty solid, though. I’m glad I tried it this year. This would go well with some savory poultry, and for vegetarians, a nice saucy tempeh or seitan dish.

Overall Rating: **1/2

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

New Holland “Ichabod” Pumpkin Ale (2012)

New Holland “Ichabod” Pumpkin Ale is 5.2% ABV.

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

Appearance: A steady pour gave about a finger of off-white and thin head. This dissipated pretty quickly to leave some light lacing and just a touch of head on top of the beer. The color is a medium orange/amber that is fairly cloudy. This appears to have light carbonation.

Smell: Up front I get vegetal pumpkin and some warm spicing of cinnamon and allspice. There is also a caramel-like sweetness which balances well with the spices and some other slightly sour notes. I’m also getting some fragrant hops in the smell. The smells in this work well. I’m now looking forward to tasting it. That is, right now.

Taste: This has vegetal pumpkin up front with some slight sour notes. It also has some warm and slightly coarse spicing of cinnamon, allspice, and maybe some ginger and something a bit woody. The sweetness, which has some light caramel tones, is tame and takes a backseat to the spice and hops. Speaking of hops, this has a nice and well-balanced hops presence. You do get the hops, the pumpkin, and the spices together. This finishes with the slight sour notes giving way to the bitter and ginger-like spicing. The aftertaste holds on to the fine-grained bitter spicing, some of the fragrance of the hops, and some sourness. This has nice flavors and is pretty well-balanced, aside from some maybe too sour notes that draw a bit too much attention.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied, with light to medium carbonation. The feel is decent, with some warm spicing, slight sourness, and somewhat fragrant hops. It is fairly smooth, except for some of the sourness which detracts a bit from the feel. Alright marks here.

Drinkability: This is decently drinkable, and goes down fairly easy. The bitterness from the spicing and the sour notes weigh this one down a bit, and keep it from being so smooth. Even so, it is light enough in ABV to (for the most part) allow one to work through a few of these.

Overall: This is decently well-balanced, and enjoyable. The flavors aren’t so unique or interesting; but they are nice. I like the hops presence, and the warm spicing. One problem, for me at least, was that the sourness in this hangs on after a few sips and drags on the palate. This makes it difficult to make out some of the other flavors  as well when sipping the beer, and covers up some of the pumpkin flavor. This may be a good one for folks that like hops. I like hops, but do wish the pumpkin was not lost in some of the unpleasant residual from the aftertaste.

Overall Rating: **1/4

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Saranac Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Saranac Pumpkin Ale is 5.4% ABV.

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

Appearance: A steady pour gave about a finger of off-white head that lasted a minute before dwindling to a very thin fizzy foam that sat atop the beer. Very light lacing is noticeable. The color is a mostly clear, but just slightly hazy, light amber with an orange tint. Lots of bubbles suggest medium to heavy carbonation.

Smell: I get clear vegetal pumpkin and spices to start. The spices seem to be cinnamon and allspice, and they have just a tinge of artificiality to them. This isn’t a huge detractor, but it is there. There is also a light brown sugar sweetness that is clearer towards the end. This smells like it is on the sweet side, more in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales.

Taste: To begin with, I get the vegetal pumpkin and some malty sweetness. This pumpkin flavor has some slight lemony notes to it, and this fades into the toasted malt and the light brown sugar/honey-like sweetness. The spices are clearer towards the finish, and again seem to hold strong with the cinnamon and allspice. The aftertaste has some of the spices hanging on, though it is fairly smooth and not as bitter as it is in many other pumpkin ales. Similar to the smell, there are slight notes of a sort of artificial tasting spice or sweetness. This isn’t terribly overwhelming, but is noticeable.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. It is fairly smooth and decently warm for something this low in ABV. The sweetness really adds a pleasant feel to this.

Drinkability: This beer is quite drinkable. It is on the sweet side for sure, and the pumpkin flavor forms a nice backbone. The spices are clearly there, but don’t overwhelm or bombard the palate. This may be one of the most drinkable pumpkin ales I’ve had. If one was planning on drinking a good number of beers, and wanted a pumpkin ale, this would be a good pick.

Overall: I do like this beer, especially for what it is. It has clear pumpkin flavor, and has an alright balance for sweetness and spice. There are some artificial qualities to it, but they are not such large detractors. This drinks well, and has an alright feel. The price, which is something to consider, is good on this one. It cost me $6.99 for a 6 pack. This is another good quality. This isn’t the most flavorful, unique, or interesting pumpkin ale by far. It is fairly solid, for a middle of the road, cheap, and decently drinkable pumpkin ale that accomplishes having pumpkin flavor.

Overall Rating: **

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Tommyknocker “Small Patch” Pumpkin Harvest Ale (2012)

Tommyknocker “Small Patch” Pumpkin Harvest Ale is 5.0% ABV.

I poured all of this 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer” glass.

Appearance: A steady pour gave a small finger’s worth of frothy light tan head, which settled to a very thin film on top of the beer. The color is a very dark red/amber. If held to a bright light, the red is a lot more prominent. This is slightly hazy, and has small streams of very tiny carbonation bubbles rising against the sides of the glass.

Smell: Up front I get a lot of roasty notes and dark malt. It is incredibly roasty, and seems like it might have some chocolate malt, or some other dark and toasted malt. The roasted notes make you feel like you just put your nose into a bag of freshly roasted coffee. I can sense a little bit of vegetal pumpkin, though this is pretty faint compared to the rich and dark roasted scents. This doesn’t smell too sweet, though I expect it has some dark sugar sweetness in it. There are some spice notes that accompany the intense dark roasted smells. I think I am mostly getting cinnamon and nutmeg. This smells pretty great, more like a porter, really.

Taste: To start I get intense roasted flavors, and then some dark molasses sweetness. The roasted flavors are earthy, chocolatey, and have elements similar to coffee. They are nice and complex flavors. There is some starchy pumpkin flavor in this, though it takes a bit of a backseat to all the roasted and coffee-like flavors. The more I drink this though, the more the pumpkin flavor comes out. For spicing, I maybe get some cinnamon and nutmeg, but I wonder whether I am just searching for spices here. The finish lets some pumpkin flavor impart some pleasant sour notes, but is backed by the dark sugar sweetness and a little bit of acidity. The aftertaste holds onto the strong roasted flavors. The roasted and toasted flavors are quite strong, and are at the center of the stage for flavors. This is certainly a rich, flavorful, and enjoyable beer.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium to heavy carbonation. It has a dark sugar/molasses feel to it, which coats the mouth but isn’t sticky or chewy. The carbonation also is a nice addition, adding some dynamism to the feel. I really think of this beer as akin to a porter for feel.

Drinkability: This beer is quite drinkable. The dark roasted notes really invite sip after sip. The ABV is not too high, and the spices don’t overwhelm. The roasted notes do hang on a bit, and would be the only thing I think would hold one back from having a few of these. Decent marks here.

Overall: I enjoy this beer, and really enjoy the roasted flavors. The pumpkin is nice, but isn’t quite as strong as might be preferable. Really, that is the main complaint. For pluses, what pumpkin flavor it does have is matched with some somewhat complex and intense roasted flavors. This is a great one for roasted flavors, even if the pumpkin is a bit lacking. It is somewhat surprising how rich the flavors are, especially given that it isn’t really heavy bodied or super sweet. This had nice balance. It’s worth buying a six pack.

Overall Rating: **1/2

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Samuel Adams “Fat Jack” Double Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Samuel Adams “Fat Jack” Double Pumpkin Ale is 8.5% ABV.

I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A hearty pour gave about 2 fingers of off-white head that lasted for a few minutes, dissolving to about 1/8th of an inch and leaving some medium and decently sticky lacing. The color is a very clear dark red/amber. There is medium carbonation visible.

Smell: Off the bat I get very strong malt, with scents of dark fruit and rum. This smells fairly sweet, and quite strong. I’m not getting pumpkin in the scent. I do get some faint cinnamon in the spicing, though the spices take a backseat to the malty and fruity flavors.

Taste: I get strong flavors up front: pumpkin and dark fruit. This has a clear rum-like quality to it. This is pretty sweet, with molasses and the dark rum flavors. The malt is quite strong, and adds earthy flavors like one might get from the seeds and stems of some dark fruits. I am somewhat surprised by these flavors. They are very nice, interesting, and strong, but they aren’t that strong in the pumpkin domain. (This was called a double pumpkin ale, remember.) The pumpkin is clearly there, though it is much stronger up front. As the taste progresses, the dark fruit flavors take hold, the molasses and rum-like sweetness grab you, and some earthy tones come out. The finish gets past the heavy sweetness to provide some earthy seed and stem flavors, leaving an aftertaste of dark fruit with slightly bitter notes. Overall, this has some wonderful flavors that get even more pronounced as the beer warms, but it lacks strong pumpkin flavor.

Feel: This is medium to heavy bodied, with moderate carbonation. This is on the chewy side, being pretty sticky. The beer has a nice warm and velvety texture to it. The finish adds some bitter tones, but this doesn’t hurt the lingering feel. This is quite warm, and intense.

Drinkability: This drinks nicely, but is both potent and high in ABV. I don’t think it is easy drinking, for it is heavy and really vibrant. Even so, the flavors that are there are fairly smooth and inviting. It doesn’t completely fail for drinkability, but isn’t something you could have a whole lot of. Clearly the beer’s “being drinkable” wasn’t high on the agenda when this was brewed.

Overall: I really like the flavors in this one. It reminds me of my tasting of last year’s Avery “Rumpkin”. The “Rumpkin” was a lot more complex, and had notes of banana and clove. Even so, the Avery is similar because it was intense, had dark fruit and rum flavors, and didn’t so much have clear strong pumpkin flavor. I like the “Fat Jack”, though wish the pumpkin was more central. It gets high marks for good, strong, and interesting flavors, but doesn’t quite hit the upper echelons of pumpkin ales because it lacks the strong pumpkin flavors. I was really glad when my girlfriend found the “Fat Jack” in the store. I had it on my agenda last year, but didn’t get the opportunity to taste it. I’m glad to have the opportunity this year.

Overall Rating***

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin (2012)

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.0% ABV.

I poured some of a a 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A slow pour produced no head but a little ring of foam with very light lacing. The color is a fairly hazy but bright red/orange. It appears to have light to moderate carbonation.

Smell: Up front this is malty and spicy. The spices are something like cinnamon, nutmeg, and perhaps some punchy ginger. My girlfriend noticed, and I agreed, that there is a sort of nuttiness to the smell that seems to be over and above a nutmeg smell. There is also clear pumpkin in the smell. The pumpkin has vegetal qualities, and is backed by a lot of caramel-sweet malt. Really, it smells quite sweet. It also smells intense and rich, and quite different from the Long Trail Pumpkin Ale (the non-imperial version).

Taste: There is a sort of dark/dark fruit sweetness, and some clear and rich pumpkin. This has a much different flavor than some of the other dark fruit-like pumpkin ales I’ve had. I would liken this one to a more woody ale, tasting like it may have had some seeds and stems of fruit thrown in. The malty sweetness is nicely paired with some slightly bitter spicing of cinnamon and (perhaps) ginger. This adds more movement to the taste. I also get fairly strong notes of vanilla in this beer. The finish on this lets the vanilla come through with some sour fruit notes. This leaves a fairly sweet and vanilla-like aftertaste with some slight lingering bitterness. A nicely complex and pumpkin-heavy beer! This one was interesting, and more difficult to describe than usual.

FeelThis is medium to heavy bodied, with medium to heavy carbonation. It is fairly smooth, and quite warm. The way it coats the mouth is nice, just as the way the sweet, woody, and slightly sour notes move around each other is nice. Dynamic and interesting feel. I keep taking sips of this and finding that I’m not sure how to put these descriptions.

Drinkability: This is nice to drink, but I don’t think of it as drinkable. It is fairly heavy, with a good amount of different flavors moving around in it. It is also 8 percent ABV, and has some noticeable but not overwhelming or terribly problematic alcohol notes. So one can’t go through much of this without getting weighed down. This wasn’t made to drink like lemonade.

Overall: I sat down tonight with a few hours to rate and compare the Long Trail Pumpkin Ale with this one, the imperial version. I found that they were quite different, and both certainly good. This imperial version was very tasty, and quite difficult to describe. It has some woodiness, some strong pumpkin flavor, and some sour notes that really do complement the other flavors well. It is one of the more interesting pumpkin ales I’ve tried, especially of the ones that don’t trade strong pumpkin for other interesting flavors. This beer is rich, and has a really unique flavor. I definitely suggest trying this one if you can, it was quite enjoyable.

Overall Rating***3/4

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Long Trail Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Long Trail Pumpkin Ale is 5.5% ABV.

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

Appearance: A steady pour gave just a small amount of foam that quickly dissolved leaving a thin ring of foam around the edge of the glass and even thinner lacing. The color on this is a bright copper/orange. This beer is quite clear and appears to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: I get vegetal pumpkin up front, followed by some pumpkin pie spices. The spices, which are fairly prominent in the smell, seem to consist of cinnamon, nutmeg, and perhaps some allspice. This also has a light brown sugar sweetness to it, and a very light malt presence . The aroma is fairly warm, and seems to be in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales.

Taste: This has fairly intense flavors, certainly more intense than I was expecting from the smell. I get sweet brown sugar, and caramelized pumpkin flavor up front. There is also some vanilla flavor in this, which pairs well with the sweetness. The sweetness also has elements of rock candy. This beer has a nice but not overwhelming spice presence, with cinnamon and nutmeg. They pop fairly close to the beginning but disappear rather quickly. The quick finish lets go of the spices and favors the sweet and roasty pumpkin. This leaves a caramel and light brown sugar aftertaste. The flavors in this are strong, and really showcase the pumpkin.

FeelThis is medium bodied, with medium carbonation. It has quite a smooth feel that is made more complex, and I think better, by the not very long lived spice profile. The caramelized pumpkin flavor makes this silky and quite nice.

DrinkabilityThis is quite drinkable. The caramel sweetness and roasted pumpkin invite one to take sip after sip; and the spices, which add a little dynamism to the flavor and feel, make the sips more interesting without losing the smooth qualities that make it drinkable. Decent marks here.

Overall: I have to say, I was surprised by how good this beer was. Having not had the Long Trail Pumpkin Ale before, I didn’t have much by way of expectations. Still, from the pour and aroma, I thought it to be a sort of middle of the road pumpkin ale, with some heavy spice and nothing too complex going on. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised. This wasn’t incredibly complex. The flavors were quite good though. The roasted pumpkin is strong. And this is sweet and smooth. I do think that it is perhaps a bit too sweet, though. The spices also add a nice pop, that is, before they head out with the early finish. This is a really good tasting beer, though. It might be the little (less mature, and not as strong)  brother to the Williamsburg Alewerks Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Overall Rating***

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews