Evolution “Jacques Au Lantern” Pumpkin Ale is 6.3% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian Ale glass.
Appearance: A relatively easy pour gave about 1 finger of white frothy head that dissolved in about 1 minute. This left a ring of foam, and some noticeable and thin lacing. The color is a clear and very bright orange/light amber. Bubbles rising suggest moderate to heavy carbonation.
Smell: The smell is quite bready and yeasty. This is complemented by some gentle spicing of cinnamon and nutmeg. The smell is nice and inviting. As I take more smells, I get some nice mellow pumpkin, and raw sugar sweetness. This smells like a bready pumpkin mousse.
Taste: To begin, the spices are heavier than the smell suggested. They come in up front, and seem to consist in strong ginger, cinnamon and some nutmeg. This has peppery and earthy characteristics. It also come with a nice dose of yeast. I’m almost wondering whether white pepper was thrown in. This pepperiness dominates the spice profile, giving some bitterness as well. The pumpkin flavor is there, noticeable after the spices kick in. It isn’t super roasty, or malty, or sweet. There is something like a rock sugar flavor, like you get in some Belgian beers, which is somewhat faint. There is a clear and clean pumpkin flavor, though. The finish lets the pumpkin dissipate and holds on to the coarse and peppery spicing for the aftertaste. This taste is somewhat surprising, given the smell.
Feel: It is medium bodied, with medium to heavy carbonation. The feel starts out a bit punchy and pretty sharp from the carbonation and spices. This fades a little bit to mellow out into something more smooth, though the aftertaste brings back some bitter spicing. These are nice transitions, but nothing to write home about for the feel.
Drinkability: This beer drinks decently, but isn’t something I think of as a paradigm example of a drinkable beer. The spicing can be a little coarse on the palate, especially as it lingers through the aftertaste. It isn’t too high in ABV for that to pose any restrictions to bringing a six-pack to a… six-pack party, and having a few. It doesn’t flow like honey, though.
Overall: I like this beer, but I think I like the way it smelled a whole lot more. I wasn’t expecting the spices to work the way they did, and thought the flavors would be smoother. This is no real criticism, though. Who cares what I expected? I’ve got some triple-creme cheese that I bought on serious discount (which is perhaps a bad idea). I think that will pair nicely with the sharpness of this beer. It will also pair well because of the bready and yeasty notes in this, which I really like. As for things I didn’t like as much, I don’t think the pumpkin was given enough of the stage. I also think that the spices make it difficult to notice some probably very nice subtleties that the yeast imparts. Anyway, I’m glad I tried this, but will enjoy it more with cheese.