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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