Monthly Archives: December 2012

Pumpkin Beer Ratings and Rankings in 2012

This table has the ranking list, from my least favorite (in the first row) to my most favorite (in the last row) of the 62 beers I reviewed during the 2012 season! For all of the beers, I wrote full reviews. These reviews can be reached by clicking on the underlined beers in the first column. As can be seen, the overall ratings of the individual beers are in the second column. Click here for the first post of this 2012 season, where I explain the goals for this year. Click here for my first post that kicked of the 2011 season and the beginning of the blog, where I explain the rating system as well as the aim of the blog. Click here for more about me, and the making of this blog.

Overall Rankings in 2012

Shipyard “Pumpkinhead” Pumpkin Ale *
Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale *1/4
Southampton Pumpkin Ale *1/4
Ardmore Brewing (2010) Imperial Pumpkin Porter *1/2
Cisco “Pumple Drumkin” Spiced Ale *3/4
Wild Wolf “Howling Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale *3/4
Shock Top “Pumpkin Wheat” Belgian-style Wheat Ale *3/4
Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale *3/4
Uinta “Punk’n” Harvest Pumpkin Ale *3/4
Starr Hill “Boxcar” Pumpkin Porter **
Blue Point Pumpkin Ale **
Saranac Pumpkin Ale **
Lakefront Pumpkin Lager **
Evolution “Jacques au Lantern” Pumpkin Ale **
Harpoon “UFO” Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale **1/4
Pike “Harlot’s Harvest” Pumpkin Ale **1/4
Wasatch Pumpkin Ale **1/4
Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale **1/4
New Holland “Ichabod” Pumpkin Ale **1/4
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale **1/2
Sweetwater Tavern (Sterling) “Ghost Town” Pumpkin Ale **1/2
Brooklyn “Post Road” Pumpkin Ale **1/2
O’Connor “Punkelweise” Pumpkin Dunkelweisse **1/2
Blue Mountain Pumpkin Oatmeal Porter **1/2
Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale **1/2
Tommyknocker “Small Patch” Pumpkin Harvest Ale **1/2
Elysian “Dark O’ The Moon” Pumpkin Stout **1/2
Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Old Ale **1/2
Mad Fox “Punkinator” Pumpkin Ale **3/4
Ardmore Brewing (2010) Pumpkin Ale **3/4
Karbach “Krunkin’ Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale **3/4
Elysian “The Great Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale **3/4
Long Trail Pumpkin Ale ***
Samuel Adams “Fat Jack” Double Pumpkin Ale ***
Terrapin “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer ***
RJ Rockers “Gruntled” Pumpkin Ale ***
Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Stout ***
Fegley’s Brew Works “Devious” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***
Dogfish Head “Punkin” Pumpkin Ale ***1/4
Flying Dog “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***1/4
Epic/DC Brau “Fermentation Without Representation” Imperial Pumpkin Porter ***1/4
Flying Dog Bourbon Barrel Aged “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***1/4
Ardmore Brewing Pumpkin Porter ***1/2
Uinta “Oak Jacked” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***1/2
Hardywood Park “Farmhouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale ***1/2
Heavy Seas “The Great Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***1/2
Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus ***3/4
Wolaver’s Organic Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Rogue Chatoe Rogue “Pumpkin Patch” Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Shipyard Pugsley’s Signature Series “Smashed Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Hoppin Frog “Frog’s Hollow” Double Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Elysian “Night Owl” Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Bootlegger’s Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale ***3/4
Saint Arnold “Pumpkinator” Imperial Pumpkin Stout ****
Avery “Rumpkin” Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale ****
Heavy Seas “The Great’er Pumpkin” Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale ****
Southern Tier “Pumking” Imperial Pumpkin Ale ****
Williamsburg Alewerks Pumpkin Ale ****1/4
Cigar City “Good Gourd” Pumpkin Ale ****3/4
Schlafly Imperial Pumpkin Ale ****3/4

* = poor
** = decent
*** = good
**** = great
***** = exceptional

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Flying Dog Bourbon Barrel-Aged “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)


Flying Dog Bourbon Barrel-Aged “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 9.0% ABV.

I was served a 5 oz pour on tap at a Flying Dog Tap Takeover.

Appearance: This was served with basically no head, but a bit of thin foam atop it. The color is a molasses red that is slightly opaque with a good bit of light coming through it. (This surprisingly looks lighter in color than the bottle and non-bourbon-aged version of “The Fear” I reviewed a while back.)

Smell: I get pumpkin pie spices, bourbon, and dark roasty malt. It smells strong of bourbon, but also has a little fruit to it. The spices smell like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. I’m so jazzed to taste it.

Taste: This has delicious and wonderful bourbon flavors that aren’t too punchy. It has some pumpkin flavor, though it isn’t so central. I get some pumpkin pie spices, but no particular spices that advertise themselves very clearly. This bursts with dark roasty malt, some molasses sweetness, and the nice fairly smooth bourbon flavor. This finishes bourbony with dark raosted malt, and lets these hang on well for the aftertaste. This has really great flavors that make for a great beer, though the pumpkin aspect ends up being pretty weak.

Feel: This is pretty smooth for a 9 percent bourbon-barrel-aged beer. It is medium to heavy bodied with medium carbonation. It also has a nice warmth to it. The alcohol does give sort of a bite at the end. Otherwise, impressively smooth.

Drinkability: This beer wasn’t really made for drinkability it seems. The bourbon flavors and the dark malt keep this one from being a paradigm drinkable ale. Even so, the smoothness it does have helps out some here. Still not a good choice if you hold drinkability high.

Overall: I tried this beer as the last pumpkin ale of the season and at one of the largest tap takeovers in the US, and the largest tap takeover ever on the East Coast. Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore Maryland had 56 different Flying Dog offerings. There were then some decisions to make about what was important to try. Given my blog, trying this was a no brainer. The more I drank this pumpkin ale, the more I did get more noticeable pumpkin, though it is nothing compared to the real big bodied pumpkin flavor ales like Schlafly’s and Cigar City’s. Overall, the flavors in this were really nice, even given the lack of strong pumpkin. I do like this better then the non-bourbon “The Fear”, though not by much more. The flavors are more interesting in this, but the pumpkin takes a hit. There are tradeoffs of pumpkin flavor to get the bourbon flavors. Even so, I was pressed to figure out whether I wanted more of this delicious beer, even with 55 other Flying Dog beers to consider a 5 oz sample of. So that says something too. Anyway, this was a great way to end the reviews for the year. Even though this wasn’t a top tier winner for me, it was still quite an enjoyable beer.

Overall Rating: ***1/4


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Sweetwater Tavern (Sterling) Ghost Town Pumpkin Ale (2012)


Sweetwater Tavern (Sterling) “Ghost Town” Pumpkin Ale is 5.7% ABV.

I was served a 16 oz glass from the brewery’s tap, which was rimmed with some ground up seeds and spices. (I also tried this without the rimmed glass. All of what follows the notes on the appearance are about the non-rimmed beer.)

Appearance: This was served to me with basically no head, but a glass rimmed with toasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and light and dark brown sugar. The color was a bright but light orange that appeared to have light carbonation. The beer was also served in a chilled glass, however I also had a small pour of this without the seeds and spices on the rim, and without a chill. This appeared to have light to medium carbonation.

Smell: I get light spicing of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. There is not much by way of pumpkin in the scent. This does smell quite light and sessionable. It also smells like it would be on the sweet side with some caramel tones to it. Overall I’d say it smells light and inviting, like the kind of pumpkin beer you actually could drink in July when some of the first ones start to roll out to market.

Taste: I get a light flavor of pumpkin and some subtle spicing, which adds a nice touch. The spicing has cinnamon, allspice, and some notable ginger. I am not getting anything else as clear as those, but think there is probably also some nutmeg in this. This also has a caramel-like sweetness, some light flavor of vanilla, and a touch of bitterness and slight fruitiness. This finishes slightly fruity with a touch of ginger and a some sour notes. The aftertaste gives some of the light bitter, white-pepper-like ginger and some slightly sour notes. The flavors in this are fairly smooth and are well-balanced.

Feel: This is light bodied with light to medium carbonation.This is very smooth, with just some slight bitterness that adds a change to the otherwise smooth and mellow feel. Overall, this gives across a feel that, though certainly on the dry side, is not completely dry. The finish is also fairly dry and clean.

Drinkability: This is really one of the most drinkable pumpkin ales I’ve had. It is smooth, and has some sweetness with some slight sour, bitter, and fruit notes. One could have quite a few of these without it dragging on the palate or becoming too heavy.

Overall: Though nearing the very end of the pumpkin beer season, I was excited to hear of this brewery/restaurant in Virginia that made a pumpkin ale. I had never been to a Sweetwater brewery/restaurant before, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. I was already planning on being near Dulles today, so this worked out quite well. One of the main brewers there, Joe Schineller, was incredibly helpful and informative. I couldn’t have asked for someone more welcoming, or willing to help me and answer my questions about the brewery. He even showed me the whole brewery setup, down to seeing how they ran their growler operation. (I ended up buying a counter-pressure filled growler of the pumpkin ale to bring back with me!) Thanks so much, Joe! With respect to this pumpkin ale, I have a lot of positive things to say. It is very clean, with clear pumpkin flavor and a few other subtle flavors. It is quite smooth, and incredibly drinkable. Certainly, it is one of the best sessionable pumpkin ale I’ve had. My girlfriend and I both independently thought of it as an entirely more successful beer than Shipyard’s “Pumpkinhead”, which is light and in the same kind of sessionable style, though no where near as smooth, clean, or flavorful. I am more partial to the fuller-bodied pumpkin beers that hit you a little harder with intense flavors. So this beer isn’t a must try for me, though it is great for a sessionable pumpkin ale. I look forward to sharing this growler with some friends who aren’t as in to heavy hitting craft beers. (Also, a side note on the rim: the seeds, sugar, and spices on the rim really add a nice touch that enables those interested in sweeter pumpkin pie style pumpkin ales to have their fix, but still allows others to opt out.)

Overall Rating: **1/2


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