Karbach “Krunkin’ Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale (2012)

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Karbach “Krunkin’ Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale is 7.9% ABV.

I poured some of this 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A steady pour gave about a finger or so of light tan head that dwindled to about a dollop after ~2 minutes. This left not quite enough foam to cover the top of the beer, and some medium lacing along the sides of the glass. The color of this is a dark reddish amber. This is mostly clear, but just slightly hazy, and appears to have light to medium carbonation.

Smell: Up front I get roasty and wood-like spicing. There is some pumpkin as well, though it isn’t so strong. This pumpkin adds a bit of mild sourness to the smell. I also get a nice bread-like yeast presence, which pairs well with aromas of dark malt, brown sugar, and gingerbread. As for spices, there seems to be some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and some other earthy spices that impart wood tones. Overall, this smells sort of like a fall hike with some early season gingerbread cookies in hand. I really like the aroma of this.

Taste: To start I get some dark and roasted tones, some earthy and slightly bitter spicing, and some malty and (as my girlfriend rightly noted) almost rum-like sweetness. This has some mild pumpkin to it, but I don’t know that I would think of it as pumpkin were I not specifically looking for it. As the smell suggested, there is a decent bread-like yeast presence, and some spicing of (I think) cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. There also seems to be something else in the spice profile that imparts this smooth wood flavor. As for sweetness, this has a really nice malty and brown sugar sweetness. This finishes to give way to more of the wood notes and the slightly coarse and earthy spicing. The aftertaste lets these wood and spice notes linger for quite a while. From contemplating the sweetness, and really, the whole of the flavor profile of this beer, I think this comes across much more like a winter or Christmas ale than a pumpkin ale. It is malty, spicy, and doesn’t have real forthright or strong pumpkin flavors. Don’t get me wrong, the flavors are really nice, and this is really well balanced. It just don’t seem to form a real clear pumpkin beer.

Feel: This is medium bodied, and has medium carbonation. It is somewhat creamy, and has some real smoothness to it that I think is coming from what I am calling the “wood notes”. There are also some other notes to make the feel more dynamic: slight sourness from the pumpkin, earthy spicing, and a pleasant and strong malty sweetness. This has a really nice feel.

Drinkability: For an almost 8 percent beer, this is really drinkable. The drinkability is also helped by the nice malty sweetness, and the wood notes. As noted, the spices do hang on to the palate a bit, which could certainly detract a bit here. Even so, good marks on this score.

Overall: I really do like this beer. It is smooth and has nice roasty and earthy flavors. The sweetness is again nice and not overwhelming, just all of the flavors in this are. It is well-balanced, and really drinkable for something that is almost 8 percent alcohol. I could go on about the other great aspects in this that I’ve mentioned above. What I would have loved in this is more and clearer pumpkin. I don’t really think of this as a pumpkin beer. Were it not for this, this beer could be a great contender to some of the big and impressive pumpkin beers that top my list.

Overall Rating: **3/4

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