New Belgium “Pumpkick” Pumpkin Ale (2013)

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New Belgium “Pumpkick” Pumpkin Ale is 6.0% ABV.

I poured a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: I gave a steady pour, which produced about one finger of bright white thin foam. This fizzed away in about 2 minutes, to leave just a very thin white cap on the top of the beer. The color is a slightly hazy deep orange/amber. Tiny bubbles rising from the center of the base of the glass suggest medium carbonation.

Smell: I notice spicy vegetal pumpkin and a pop of tartness. The spices are warm. I sense cinnamon, and some nutmeg. The more I smell, the more the tartness takes over, making it harder to notice the pumpkin. This also has some bright grassy notes, and a gives off a touch of brown sugar.

Taste: This is sweeter and warmer than the tartness in the smell suggests. I taste definite vegetal pumpkin, some grassiness, some light brown sugar, and a pop of cranberry. The spices, as in the nose, add warmth. Cinnamon and nutmeg are prominent. The pumpkin flavor does get a little crowded by the cranberry; but this is otherwise nicely balanced. The tartness has both lemon and cranberry to it. This has a nice dynamic flavor profile. It finishes slightly bitter and lemony, leaving a tart and lemony aftertaste.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied, with light to medium carbonation. The carbonation is just right with this. The warmth of the spices, along with the sweetness and pumpkin really work with the lemon and cranberry. This makes for a dynamic feel as well, with mellow leading into more of a punch. Good marks here.

Drinkability: The tart pop from the cranberry doesn’t make me want to gulp this. But who would want to gulp good craft beer? Nevertheless, the sweet and warmth of the other flavors keeps this from being caustic or assaulting my palate. The mildly sour aftertaste does hang on for a bit. So this gets ok or decent marks here.

Overall: I liked this beer a lot better than New Belgium/Elysian’s “Kick” collaboration of 2011. This “Pumpkick” has a more balanced flavor, and more of the traditional pumpkin ale elements, especially with the spicing. So this “Pumpkick” is better in this respect. I also really like the interesting and dynamic flavors, and how the cranberry and lemon duel with the other traditional pumpkin pie base layer in this beer. I don’t like the sourness that the aftertaste lets hang on for too long. But I do like the pumpkin in this. I wish it was more pronounced and had more depth. Overall, pretty fun and enjoyable pumpkin ale. Good interesting flavors. Not a top tier, but definitely worth trying.

Overall Rating: **

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About New Belgium and “Pumpkick”: New Belgium now has their first location in Fort Collins, CO, as well as a new location in Asheville, NC. Asheville sure is bustling with big and good craft beer companies. New Belgium tells the story of Jeff Lebesch being inspired to make beer by riding his “fat tire” bike in Europe, to return to Colorado with ideas and ingredients to start a brewery. Even though Jeff moved on from the company in 2009, New Belgium continues to be a pretty big company. So far as I have heard, they are quite wonderful to work for. Employees are said to be treated with a “Fat Tire” Bicycle after 1 year of work, and a trip to Belgium after 5. Who wouldn’t want to work for them? I can say that, though this company has been around for a few decades, they are newer to Virginia. I remember a few years ago when they first started marketing in Virginia. You couldn’t avoid seeing ‘New Belgium’. It was pretty wild.

In any case, I haven’t heard much of the minutia of how “Pumpkick” is brewed. I’m still waiting to hear back from a contact at the company. But, as the season begins, I cannot wait to review! What I do know is that this beer is said to be brewed with pumpkin juice, cranberry, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and lemongrass. Obviously this “Pumpkick” has some relation to “Kick”, both being pumpkin beers with cranberry made by the same brewery that also happen to have ‘kick’ in their name. What I do know is that Kim Jordan (New Belgium) and Dick Cantwell (Elysian) were/are dating. So the name ‘Kick’ was used for the Kim/Dick collaboration in 2011. I suppose that is a bit preferable to “Dim”. Though, for a fall seasonal, something like a dim cave or a dark graveyard could work. In any case, “Pumpkick” is the non-collaborative version from New Belgium, toning down the sourness quite a bit. This is kinda funny, since on the website for the “Kick”, New Belgium notes: “Kim brought sour from New Belgium; Dick brought pumpkin from Elysian”. One may have thought that, since this is a non-collaborative version from New Belgium, it would be all tart! But in any case, its a fun fall pumpkin beer.

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