Monthly Archives: October 2012

Hardywood Park “Farmhouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Hardywood Park “Farmouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale is 8.5% ABV.

I poured some of this 750 ml bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A somewhat careful pour produced about 1 to 2 fingers of off-white and bubbly foam. This lasted about a minute and a half, before settling into about 1/8 of an inch of denser whipped foam that left medium-thickness lacing along the sides of the glass. The color on this is a bright and quite clear light orange. Many bubbles rising suggest heavy carbonation.

Smell: I get a lot of bready yeast, and some spicing of cinnamon and (I think) nutmeg. There is also some bright vegetal pumpkin fruitiness that balances with the other smells and doesn’t overwhelm. There is also a fairly strong light brown sugar sweetness to this one that also has some rock candy aspects to it. This smells smooth and bright, restrained, and quite inviting.

Taste: The taste in this is bolder than I thought it would be. I get strong, fairly spicy, and somewhat roasty pumpkin that is backed by some complex sweetness and pronounced yeast. This sweetness is like light brown sugar and rock candy. The spices seem to be cinnamon, and something like ginger that gives a sort of punchy fine-grained and pepper like addition to the spices. These spices are forward. The yeast is not as pronounced in the taste as it was in the smell, though it is clearly present and is clearer towards the finish. The finish is decently sweet and has some lemony notes and sugars that take hold. These fade away leaving a peppery, spicy, and bitter aftertaste. Really good and complex flavors in this one.

Feel: This is medium bodied with medium to heavy carbonation. It is warm and dynamic for feel. There is the spice up front that has some movement, which gives way to a smoother sweetness. There is some slight alcohol poking through on the feel.

Drinkability: This beer is alright on this score. It is fairly smooth, warm, and the sugars add a nice feel to it which makes it good for drinking. There is, as I said, a bit of alcohol that pokes through, which detracts from it. The aftertaste also leaves some strong bitter spice on the palate that isn’t that harsh, but isn’t so smooth.

Overall: This beer is nice, restrained, and a good thing to drink on Halloween’s eve. I like the yeastiness, and the spices with the pumpkin. The pumpkin flavor is enjoyable, and isn’t lost in the yeast or spices or sugar. It is well balanced, with the perhaps very small exception of the spices. They are somewhat bold and do linger on the palate a bit. They are stronger than I remember them being last year. Hardywood calls this a “Wallonian style farmhouse ale brewed with pumpkin and spice”. I remember finding out about this beer last year, and was so excited to try it. The same was true of this year, and I haven’t been disappointed drinking it.  It is a yeasty and carefully sweetened pumpkin ale with a firm spice character.  It is definitely worth trying if you can get a bottle of it, especially if you like yeasty beers.

Overall Rating: ***1/2

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Southampton Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Southampton Pumpkin Ale is 5.5% ABV.

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

Appearance: A careful pour produced a small finger’s worth of fizzy and off-white foam. This settled into a thicker and frothier foam that left some thin lacing. The color on this is a mostly clear and bright toasted orange. This seems to have heavy carbonation.

Smell: I get slightly sour vegetal pumpkin along with light spicing and some pleasant sweetness. For spicing I think there is cinnamon and nutmeg, with maybe some other standard pumpkin pie additions as well. There is a light sweetness like from a starchy vegetable that imparts some sugar. This smells like it will be on the pumpkin pie side of pumpkin ales. Overall, the aroma is somewhat pleasant but fairly subdued.

Taste: To begin with I get sour pumpkin, and some coarse and bitter spicing like ginger and white pepper. This sour pumpkin flavor is isn’t so much citrusy, but is a bit funky. The pumpkin flavor also isn’t so clear throughout, and gets overwhelmed by the spices that kick in and take over. There is also sort of an underlying sweetness that has some artificial elements to it. The finish on this has more of the sourness, and makes way for a bitter and acrid aftertaste.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium to heavy carbonation. The feel is not so smooth, and is on the sharp side. The sour pumpkin flavor and the bitter notes add some dynamic features to the feel. Even so, this lacks the richness and warmth that make for a good pumpkin ale. It comes off as sort of cheap and poorly balanced.

Drinkability: This is low enough in ABV to be decently drinkable. Yet the sour notes and the overpowering bitter spicing keeps this one from drinking so nicely. The unrelenting bitter notes in the aftertaste also doesn’t help the drinkability. There are a lot of other pumpkin beers I’d go to if I was mostly concerned with drinkability.

Overall: I don’t have very much to say that is positive about this one. I like the pumpkin flavor being there. That gives this a leg up on others like Shipyard’s “Pumpkinhead” that really lack pumpkin flavor. I also like that there is a spice profile that adds to the pumpkin. Unfortunately, this isn’t so well balanced and the bitter spicing and sour tones really don’t help. It is slightly more appealing to me than Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, in part because (despite the issues with balance) the flavors are more interesting.

Overall Rating: *1/4

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Fegley’s Brew Works “Devious” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Fegley’s Brew Works “Devious” Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 9% ABV.

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

Appearance: A careful but hearty-at-the-end pour gave about 1/4 of an inch of off-white foam. This pretty quickly dissipated to leave a frothy but thin ring around the sides of the glass. The color is a fairly bright dark orange/amber. This appears to have heavy carbonation.

Smell: To start I get strong dark fruit, strong spice, and some pumpkin that is on the roasty side. The spices I am getting include cinnamon and clove, with perhaps some other pumpkin pie spicing added as well. This smells like it has a strong sweetness of intense dark fruit and malt. This also has something like rum and raisin going on in it. These smells are complex, powerful, and really inviting.

Taste: Up front there are some intense and dark fruit flavors, something like rum, and strong spicing. The darker fruit flavors are really prominent and account for a great bit of the flavor profile. I get maybe some raisins and some fig. These work well with the sweet dark rum that is also prominent throughout. The spices aren’t as strong in the taste as they were in the smell. They fit in better, and seem to consist of cinnamon and clove. I don’t get a ton of clear pumpkin in this, certainly less than in the smell. There is some pumpkin that comes through a bit more on the back end, though it isn’t so clearly undeniable pumpkin. The flavors that I do get are quite nice, though. They are strong and earthy. As I sip this, the finish lets some of the dark fruit notes reveal more slightly bitter and earthy notes; these hang on some for the aftertaste along with some of the strong dark fruit notes. The aftertaste is surprisingly fruity and pleasant. I was, given the spicing and earthiness, expecting a more bitter end to the taste profile. One last thing to note is that there is some definite booziness that comes especially towards the end of the sip (and afterwards).

Feel: This is on the heavy side of medium bodied, with medium carbonation. The feel is rich, warm, and decently complex. It starts out relatively smooth, but makes way for some coarser spicing which breaks up the feel a little bit. This is intense and, though on the sweet side, not syrupy or overly sweet. These are all nice traits. One downside is the prominent booziness which disrupts the feel a bit.

Drinkability: This one is not so drinkable. The flavors this has are pretty great, but they are intense, and somewhat heavy on the palate. There is also a prominent booziness that hangs on. This one wasn’t made for drinkability.

Overall: This has nice and bold flavors. It has some really pleasant earthiness, nice dark fruit, and a decent spice profile that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. I also really like the finish and specifically, how some of the dark fruit comes out. Often with the imperial pumpkin ales that have spicy and earthy profiles (and really, many other pumpkin ales too), you get the spices hanging on at the end. With this, they are clear towards the end, but fight for attention with the dark raisin, fig, and rum flavors. There are a couple of things I didn’t like as much. As may be expected, I would have liked more clear pumpkin, and for that pumpkin to be showcased a little better. I could also do with a little less booziness. By my watch, this beer is better than some of the similarly styled rum and dark fruit pumpkin ales (like Sam Adams “Fat Jack”), in great part because the pumpkin is still there, but also because of the surprisingly pleasant finish. I don’t like this as much as the bigger contenders that really accomplish good clear and pleasant pumpkin flavor in the midst of similar complexity. These include the Uinta “Oaked Jacked” Pumpkin Ale, the Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and Heavy Seas’ Great Pumpkin and Great’er Pumpkin.

Overall Rating: ***

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Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Stout (2012)

Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Stout is about 7% ABV.

I poured some of this 12 oz bottle of homebrew into two plastic cups.

Appearance: A steady pour gives a ring of foam, but no head. The color is a dark ruddy brown. Although this is a stout, the beer is clear and light. There’s light carbonation visible.

Smell: The smell is woody and oaky. My friend Ben and I agree that there’s some licorice or anise notes. I don’t get any serious spice presence. There’s no clear pumpkin, but I do get some slight fruit notes. This is warm, complex, and interesting. It’s almost savory smelling.

Taste: I first get dark fruit, licorice, and oak. I get a hint of toasty or smoky wood, and maybe a little vanilla. The smoke is building as I sip it. The fruitiness becomes less prominent, but the flavors are definitely intense. Out of the four Ardmore Brewing pumpkin beers I’ve tasted so far, the flavors are most intense in this one. The toasted wood lasts into the finish, along with a hint of sweetness. The woodiness is still present in the aftertaste.

Feel: This is medium bodied with heavy carbonation, especially for a stout. The carbonation adds to the dynamism of the flavors.

Drinkability: This beer is decently drinkable, but the complexity makes it less drinkable than it could have otherwise been. It’s a fair trade off, I think. The beer is very woody, and this hangs on the palate some.

Overall: This was the last of the four Ardmore Brewing beers that were tasted tonight. These beer were quite different than many of the pumpkin ales I’ve had, and quite different from each other. This particular pumpkin stout  is really warm, rich, and complex. I love the vanilla, oak, and deep flavors. The pumpkin isn’t too strong. While it is certainly light for a stout, it’s got a great complexity and interesting flavors.

Overall Rating: ***

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Ardmore Brewing 2010 Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Ardmore Brewing 2010 Pumpkin Ale is about 8% ABV.

I poured some of this 12 oz bottle of homebrew into two plastic cups.

Appearance: A careful pour gave no head. The color is a red/amber. The beer is quite clear with very light carbonation visible.

Smell: The smell is very smoky up front, with some oak and vanilla. There’s a warmness to it, but no real pumpkin.

Taste: In the taste there is also smoke at the front, along with clear oak and vanilla. There is some pumpkin in the taste. This is different than the “Pumpkin Old Ale,” which was coarser with bolder spices. I could go for some more pumpkin in this, but I really like the interesting flavors. The oak gives way to a smooth smoky finish.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied, with very light carbonation. It’s warm and has a smooth feel.

Drinkability: This beer is fairly easy to drink. It’s smooth, especially for its complexity, and nicely balanced. The smoke could hang on the palate too long for some drinkers, which could be unpleasant.

Overall: This was the third of four beers I will try tonight that are from Tyler Flynn of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. What a cool thing to taste so many interesting homebrews. I was so jazzed to see my friend Ben bring them all in. A huge thank you to Ardmore Brewing.

This beer has really great flavors – the oak and smoke are intriguing. As Ben says, Tyler seems to like the smoky/peaty elements in his beers. Maybe this is scotch inspired? I like how smooth this is, and how dynamic the flavors are. I could go for some more pumpkin, but this is interesting and fun as is.

Overall Rating: **3/4

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Ardmore Brewing 2010 Imperial Pumpkin Porter (2012)

Ardmore Brewing  2010 Imperial Pumpkin Porter is about 8% ABV.

I poured some of this 12 oz bottle of homebrew into two plastic cups.

Appearance: A steady pour gave a 1/8 of an inch thin, very light tan head. The color is a dark reddish brown, maybe a little lighter than a cola, and more red. It looks light for a porter.

Smell: First, I’m getting sour notes. I’m also getting some rum notes and dark fruit. There’s a definite yeast presence. The pumpkin is not very clear in the smell – I don’t think I would be able to tell it’s a pumpkin beer from smell alone.

Taste: There are sourish notes upfront, but they’re not unpleasant. I can taste the yeast pretty clearly too, and some woody notes. There’s something a little strange about the taste, maybe from the yeast. I’m not getting a dominant pumpkin flavor, but this may be hidden by the yeasty taste. There’s not much sweetness, and no real spices. The finish is tart and sour, extending into the aftertaste.

Feel: This is medium bodied with heavy carbonation. The finish is a little chalky. Not great here for feel.

Drinkability: This beer is not greatly drinkable, but the fruity yeast is kind of nice. The sourness creates some acidity. The ABV is higher too, so this makes it a little less drinkable.

Overall: This was the second beer I am trying tonight that my friend Ben brought me. He got them from Tyler Flynn in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. I was very excited to try this one, as I was about all of the beers Tyler gave Ben to share. Ben and I were with some other folks at the state arboretum in Virginia. So the experience of sitting down to try some of these beers was really quite nice. As far as overall thoughts go, I think this beer is kind of odd. There’s not a lot of pumpkin or clear spicing. The sour yeast and wood could be more balanced. It’s definitely a little funky. I think it is interesting to try, but not really a contender qua pumpkin beer.

Overall Rating: *1/2

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Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Old Ale (2012)

Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Old Ale is (?)% ABV.

I poured some of this 22 oz bottle of homebrew into two plastic cups.

Appearance: A steady pour gave no head and a thin ring of off-white foam. It is medium amber in color with an orange tint. It appears to have light carbonation.

Smell: I get spices and malt up front, with some caramel-like pumpkin. The spices seem to be cinnamon and clove.

Taste: The taste has a rich malty sweet pumpkin flavor with a robust earthy feel. The spices are a lot less noticeable in the taste than in the smell. It has a sort of a woody taste, with maybe some oak, smokiness, and light vanilla on the finish. The spices come through more in the finish. The aftertaste has some slight bitter notes. The clove adds coarseness.

Feel: This beer is medium bodied with little to medium carbonation. It has a warmness to it. The spices add some rough complexity.

Drinkability: The drinking experience is dynamic, moving from the malt to the woodiness to the spices, but still smooth. It could be too heavy and woody for some.

Overall: My friend Ben brought me this homebrew, which was made by Tyler Flynn outside of Philadelphia. I met Tyler at a pumpkin beer tap takeover last year in Philly, at which he generously shared a pumpkin homebrew with me. Ben and his wife have kept up with Tyler, so I was very excited to learn that he had made several pumpkin homebrews this year. There’s a complex flavor to this beer; it’s got an oaky, rich vanilla, malted pumpkin flavor that’s got a kick of clove. The oak/wood/vanilla combination is nice, as is the clove. I could go for some more pumpkin. But it was cool. Real glad to taste this, it was very interesting and complex.

Overall Rating: **1/2

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