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.
Feel: This 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.