Starr Hill “Boxcar” Pumpkin Porter (2012)

Starr Hill “Boxcar” Pumpkin Porter is 4.7% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz pour into a porter glass.

Appearance: A steady pour gave about 1.5 fingers of (light) hazelnut frothy foam that had decent retention. This settled into about 1/2 inch of foam that left some medium-bodied lacing. The color is a dark and opaque brown that, under very bright light, has a reddish tint. Very little light is getting through this one.

Smell: Off the bat, I get strong and fresh vegetal pumpkin. It smells like the raw pumpkin before one carves into it or cooks with it. It has a tinge of sour to it, along with some notes of orange. This pumpkin smell is complemented by some spicing of clove and cinnamon, perhaps with a little nutmeg lingering.

Taste: The taste gives the slightly sour vegetal pumpkin first as well, with the spices doing more lingering in the back. I get something like orange in the taste as well. The spices aren’t all that strong, and blend in with the pumpkin flavor nicely. I taste clove most of all for the spices. The malt flavor in this is roasty, but fairly subdued. Maybe I am getting some chocolate malt. There is some slight sweetness, maybe like a touch of molassas. This is not in the sweet pumpkin ales camp. The finish adds a bit of acidity and moves towards the spices which linger in the slightly bitter aftertaste. The flavors in this are nice, though nothing real powerful.

Feel: It is medium bodied, with light carbonation. The beer is on the creamy side, coating the mouth like a very light milk stout would. This creaminess is nice. The vegetal pumpkin does add a sourness which punches through the creaminess a bit, just as the spices punch through (though this is much less pronounced with the spices).

Drinkability: This fairs decently for drinkability. Having the slightly sour notes from the pumpkin, which aren’t as nicely balanced with the roasty malt, detracts a little bit from one’s ability to move through these beers. The ABV is in the right place for not getting weighted down by them, though. This is decently drinkable, though.

Overall:  I always like to taste local beer, and this is no exception. This is the second year that I am trying the Starr Hill pumpkin porter. I like the roasted malt in it, just as I like their lighter take on the dark style of pumpkin ales alright. But I wished that a couple of things were done differently. The vegetal pumpkin is nice, and it of course has a place. Even so, I’m not as big of a fan of sourish pumpkin, especially in a porter. (If the pumpkin beer just was a sour ale, that would be a different story- though, even there I am not a huge fan.) If the roasted flavors from the malt had been a little more prominent, perhaps this would have balanced out more with the somewhat sharp vegetal pumpkin and the orange notes. I do like the flavors in this one, and it is a nice addition to an otherwise certainly less dark group of ales that constitutes the predominant class of pumpkin ales available. If Epic and D.C. Brau do their imperial pumpkin porter collaboration again this year, I will be interested to try that one again, and interested to compare it to this Starr Hill.

Overall Rating**

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