Three Notch’d Brewing “Three Chopt” Pumpkin Ale (2013)

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Three Notch’d “Three Chopt” Pumpkin Ale is 4.8% ABV.

This was served on tap at the brewery in a 16 oz pint glass.

Appearance: The beer had two fingers of light-tan and bubbly head that didn’t last long. It also has a somewhat hazy medium orange/amber color to it. It appears to have light carbonation.

Smell: This smells warm, with spices and citrus on the nose. I get cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as some orange. There is a very mild toasty malt thing going on, in addition to some mild vegetal pumpkin. I get some definite spice to the nose on this; but it is otherwise pretty tame for aroma.

Taste: This has some warmth to it, light spicing, orange, light vegetal pumpkin, and some slightly sour notes. The spices I think I get are clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. There is some fruit-like sweetness to it that, though present, doesn’t advertise itself as sugar. Really, this has flavors like a clove-orange. There is also some grassiness that comes in towards the end. The beer finishes with a little yeast and some bitter notes from the spices. The aftertaste has some slightly dull bitter spicing hanging on.

Feel: This is light bodied, with light carbonation. There is light spicing in this that gives it a bit of texture, and some of the sour notes that give the feel change here and there. A fairly light feel overall.

Drinkability: This is certainly easy drinking. It has a little sweetness, some sour notes here and there, and some slight bitterness that still enables the beer to be round at the end. So it is quite a smooth drink. Great marks here.

Overall: This beer is pretty good. It is certainly quite successful as a sessionable pumpkin ale. The pumpkin is mild, much like the other flavors in the beer. The orange notes are stronger than I’d want them to be; and, given my tastes, I’d like the pumpkin to be a little more prominent. But again, for a sessionable pumpkin ale, this certainly gets good marks.

Overall Rating: **1/4

DSC03431About Three Notch’d and the “Three Chopt” Pumpkin Ale: I ventured to Three Notch’d Brewing, on a night I was planning to not have any beer due to an early morning dentist appt. But then came a tweet from Three Notch’d about their pumpkin on tap. Off I went. They were in the midst of their soft opening, and it was fairly slow, but still steadily moving inside.

Three Notch’d Brewing is the newest brewery inside Charlottesville, VA, and will be having their grand opening on September 28th. I’ve even heard rumors of some future plans of working to have festival-type events at the brewery. But that is another story. Founders George Kastendike, Scott Roth (formerly of McGrady’s Irish Pub) and Derek Naughton sought the help of master brewer, Dave Warwick to open this new brewery alongside McGrady’s Irish Pub in Charlottesville. I spoke with Dave, who showed me the incredible brew set-up, and kindly explained to me some of the beginnings of Three Notch’d.

Kastendike, who is a serious history buff, shared his inspiration and appreciation for revolutionary war history when collaborating with his brewery co-founders. They remind us of the story of Jack Jouett, who took a 40-mile horseback ride to Charlottesville in 1781 to warn Thomas Jefferson about the oncoming British troops. Jouett took a trail through the woods that was marked by three notches in trees that marked the path. Folks from Charlottesville will know Three Notch’d Road (just as folks like me from Richmond will know Three Chopt Road). Well, now we have Three Notch’d Brewery, with their flagship 40-mile IPA.

As Dave walked me into their brewery space, I was blown away. For a starting brewery, their space is incredible. They have a 20 barrel system, with plenty of fermentation room, and some more room to grow. The most unique thing in their brewery, however, is a separate system. This seperate system is a dedicated brew set-up for community brewing. The size of most breweries’ pilot systems, Three Notch’d has a system almost completed for facilitating brewing projects with members of the Charlottesville community: home-brewers, beer-lovers, and otherwise excited beer folks. This is indeed a cool thing to have. Dave was very passionate about wanting to contribute to the beer community in Charlottesville, saying that he hopes to be as good as some of the skilled brewers in the greater Charlottesville area.

For their pumpkin offering, Dave uses pumpkin puree and spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in the boil. He aimed to create a sessionable pumpkin ale, different from the smack-you-in-the-face imperial pumpkin ales, and the pumpkin-pie style pumpkin ales. He noted that he used to use fresh local pumpkins when he previously brewed for Rock Bottom in Arlington, Pittsburgh, and two locations in Colorado. Nevertheless, he said he ultimately felt that puree was just as good for his purposes.

There’s a lot more that could be said about Three Notch’d; but, for those of you near the area, you should check it out for yourself. They’ve got really interesting stories for all of their beers.

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