Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.0% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A robust pour gave about two and a half fingers of off-white head that dissipated quickly to a thin foam and thin but sticky lacing. The color is a moderately hazy dark orange/red. Tiny bubbles revealing light to medium carbonation can be seen rising from different places along the bottom of the glass.

Smell: I get roasted pumpkin, heavy spices, and some sweet malt. This smells warm, like a real flavorful and complex pumpkin ale. The spices kick in just after the roasted pumpkin hits, and seem to consist of cinnamon, clove, and something woody. There is also a bit of spice that stings my nostrils a little bit. (I can’t type this without thinking of Anchorman.) I can tell the spices are given in heavy doses in this one. This is pretty inviting.

Taste: I get roasted and sweet pumpkin up front, immediately followed by a troop of coarse, woody, and interesting spices. The spice profile doesn’t just consist of the standard pumpkin pie spices. I get cinnamon and clove, and something else. It is something kind of raw and woody, which I quite like. The flavors of pumpkin and heavy coarse spicing are warm and something that works for a pumpkin ale. This beer has some malt and sweetness, though I wouldn’t place it in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. The malt is relatively subdued, and you get some tame brown sugar sweetness. Towards the finish, this beer reveals its sweetness a bit more, along with some more peppery notes from the spice profile. The aftertaste is more dull with woody spice. This has some of the most interesting spices (that were still successful) out of the pumpkin ales I’ve tried. The flavors are also nicely balanced and quite enjoyable.

FeelThis is medium bodied, with light carbonation. The feel is surprisingly light given how bold the flavors are. It isn’t sticky or syrupy. It is also surprisingly smooth for something with such a hearty dose of spice. Success here.

Drinkability: I think this is definitely on the drinkable side, though there are some caveats.  It is obviously high for ABV, and has a lot of spices. This could certainly weigh one down through the course of a beer or two. Even so, it is pretty smooth given its complexity. It also doesn’t wear its ABV on its sleeve. It is clear that this is stronger than your 5-6% beers. There is some alcohol noticeable, but this doesn’t detract from the drinking of it.

Overall: I like this pumpkin ale. It is not the best I’ve had. But it is up there. The pumpkin is nice and fairly strong, as are the spices. This could make for a busy beer, but that is not what you get. You get a rich, warm, and woody pumpkin ale. It’s sweetness grows as the beer warms up, and as more sips are taken. This is well balanced. As I said, it has some of the most interesting spicing that is still effective in a pumpkin ale I’ve had. I give this beer high marks for the ability to pack this much of a flavor punch without either weighing one down or ruining the palate. I was eager to try this after Weyerbacher rebranded from last year’s pumpkin ale. The joker looking fellow on the bottle neck was a bit strange, and I had to do a double take to realize what this beer was this year. I like the art. (I also liked it last year.) Anyway, try this one if you can.

Overall Rating***3/4

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