Bootlegger’s Pumpkin Ale is 6.1% ABV.
I poured some of this 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: A robust pour gave about two fingers of frothy whipped of-white foam. This settled down to about 1/4 of an inch that just barely coated the top of the beer. The color of this is a fairly bright and slightly hazy medium orange. This appears to have medium carbonation.
Smell: Up front this has vegetal pumpkin, strong spices, and a strong bread-like yeastiness. The pumpkin isn’t the most vegetal I’ve come across, but does seem to be more like the raw vegetable than its roasted friends. The spices smell like cinnamon, allspice, and some punchy ginger. There is a nice light toasted malt sweetness that also brings in some light brown sugar and caramel-like malt. This smells on both the sweet side and the pumpkin pie side of pumpkin ales. It also smells complex. I’m excited to taste it now.
Taste: At the front I get strong and clean pumpkin, earthy spices, and a restrained sweetness. The pumpkin is on the vegetal side, though certainly not the paradigm “just sliced open the gourd” vegetal pumpkin flavor. The spices impart an earthiness, and I think consist of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. There is also a sort of woody earthiness that could be from the pumpkin seeds. In fact, it reminds me of some others that I know use pumpkin seeds (most notably, Elysian’s “Night Owl“). This has a nice caramel sweetness that is well-balanced with the rest of the pumpkin and spices. This makes a real great addition flavor-wise as well, resulting in an earthy and not overly sweet pumpkin pie flavor. This finishes with the sweetness dissipating just a little bit to just slightly highlight the woody earthiness. The aftertaste is very slightly bitter with those spices and earth hanging on. Overall, this has bold, quite well-balanced, and delicious flavors. Because of how bold the flavors are, I would have guessed the ABV was in the 7-8 range. Anyway, quite good marks here.
Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium to heavy carbonation. The feel is quite smooth, and has some elements that make it more dynamic. For instance, the strong and clean pumpkin is matched with the woody spices which gain a little prominence here and there. Just as well, the sweetness really adds a nice body to the feel. Good marks here too.
Drinkability: This is really drinkable. Its sweetness really helps here, as does its generally well-balanced demeanor. The flavors, as noted, are fairly bold. This is in part because of the strongish earthy spices. This dimension could hold back some that like to drink pilsners. It also could weight down the palate. Even so, and especially at 6.1%, this gets decent marks here.
Overall: I like this one, and would suggest trying it if you can get one. A good guy named Joe in California helped me to acquire this one (and some awesome other non-pumpkins- Thanks Joe). This one was kind of a sleeper for me. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. I was also impressed by how bold the flavors were, as well as by the fairly well-accomplished pumpkin pie flavor. It’s no Southern Tier “Pumking” in terms of getting across pumpkin pie; but its darn good on this quality. I really like the woodiness and earthiness, which reminds me of the Elysian “Night Owl” I linked to in the taste description above. Compared to that beer, I like this one more. This is in part because, in addition to great balance, nice woodiness, and strong pumpkin, there is also a nod to the pumpkin pie. This adds a richness and complexity that I prefer. I had to do a lot of thinking and revisiting of older posts to find out how I would finally rank this one. It got quite a high standing. Real good pumpkin beer.