Lakefront Pumpkin Lager (2012)

Lakefront Pumpkin Lager is 6.0% ABV.

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

Appearance: A steady pour gave about a finger of thin off-white head. This didn’t last long at all, and left a thin ring around the sides of the glass and very light lacing. The color of this is a moderately cloudy yellow/orange. This looks to have heavy carbonation.

Smell: From immediately pouring this beer, I smell spicing of ginger, almost like I just poured a ginger ale. Upon bringing the beer closer to my nose, I get some sharp vegetal pumpkin that has a sort of acidity to it, along with some punchy spices. For the spices, I get strong ginger, and some standard cinnamon and indistinct pumpkin pie spices. The spicing also has some woodiness to it. There is not much by way of sweetness in the aroma, though there is some light grassy malt. Overall  I’d say this has a smell of a gingery spice with sharp pumpkin.

Taste: My first reaction is that this tastes sweeter than it smelled. It starts with a clean and borderline cidery pumpkin flavor, and then grabs more spices further on. The spices that are involved are cinnamon, (I think) nutmeg, and some clove. I am not really getting the ginger I got in the smell. Well, maybe slightly. There are also some slight sour apple notes here. In the back of all of this there is a light and malty caramel-like sweetness that really binds this beer. Towards the finish there is also a sort of grassiness in the malt that is both refreshing and a good change of pace for the flavors. This finishes with some of that grassy malt, and moves towards a slightly bitter aftertaste that also holds some of the sweetness of the malt.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied with medium to heavy carbonation. The feel is pretty smooth. The spices add some nice character to the feel, but don’t overwhelm or make the finish too bitter or astringent. The light caramel sweetness and grassy malt make for some complexity in the feel. This is definitely different than the pumpkin ales I’ve tried, and has some more acidity and a cleaner and more cider-like feel.

Drinkability: This is pretty easy drinking. It is sweet, fairly clean, and not unbelievably complex such as to overwhelm or wreck the palate. There are no major impediments to working through a few of these without realizing it. For me, I am not so much a fan of the acidic and more cider-like aspects of this. I’ll acknowledge this as more of a personal preference than a note on the success of this beer as a pumpkin beer. I mean, at some point of perspective, all of this that I write is an expression of personal preferences about the beers. Even so, what I mean is that I could see how others who like this more acidic or cider-like feel could be really into this aspect of the beer.

Overall: After taking some notes on this beer, I looked at Lakefront’s website. They tell the story of the brewery owner Russ Klisch finding a recipe in 1989 that was a pumpkin beer Thomas Jefferson brewed at his home in Monticello. I had previously heard this from someone online who mentioned to me that I had not yet tasted the Lakefront. Even though I knew about this, I was still quite surprised to read this story on Lakefront’s site. This mostly stems from my current location being in Charlottesville; and so I would have thought that a beer like this would be hailed and worshiped from the Downtown mall through UVA campus and at all of the major spots in and around the Monticello region. In any case, I was glad to try this one. I like the pumpkin flavor. It is unadulterated, and comes with some nice but not overwhelming spices. This is a fairly simple pumpkin beer, but good in that respect. The one thing I noted that I wasn’t a big fan of was the cider-like quality to it. I like cider, but not so much in this case. I give this one solid marks for what it is: an easy drinking, enjoyable, and not too complex pumpkin beer.

Overall Rating: **

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