Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.0% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian-ale glass.
Appearance: An aggressive pour gave over a finger of tan and thick head, that hung on for about 5 minutes, eventually dwindling to a thin layer on top of the beer. The color is a very clear and dark orange/amber. This looks to have moderate carbonation.
Smell: For aroma I get woody and strong spices up front. I think I get clove, allspice, and nutmeg, as well as something else woody. This has some noticeable but not incredibly strong vegetal pumpkin to it, as well as some strong and toasty malt. This also has some caramel and malty sweetness to it, and a bit of breadiness. Overall, the spices really pop out here in the aroma.
Taste: The spices grab hold up front: woody and intense spices of clove, allspice, nutmeg, and I guess, cardamom. (I know they use cardamom in this beer.) The spicing is bold, sort of coarse, and really enjoyable. Behind the spice is a nice thick layer of intense vegetal pumpkin, some sweetness of molasses and brown sugar, as well as some firm toasty and grassy malt notes. The flavors in this one are really nice, and the spices are able to be really bold without totally overpowering. There is also a noticeable alcohol presence with this that does break through some.This has rugged spicing and flavors, a great thing for a fall (whenever we get there) evening. This finishes to let some of the sweetness and spice grab the palate at the end, before a long finish of bold and well-balanced spices. The aftertaste has some toasty malt and more mellow bitter notes hanging around.
Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. The spices give the feel some movement, but do hang a bit as I drink this beer. The alcohol bite also detracts some from the feel. Even so, the feel does have some nice warmth from the strong spices. So that is nice. And the strong spices do make the alcohol bite you do get not as much of a stand-out detraction as it could otherwise be.
Drinkability: This is not the most drinkable, in great part because it is a bold, spice-heavy, imperial ale. The spice and alcohol definitely keep this one from being anything like easy drinking. Even so, this isn’t caustic or burning or anything. It is best to be enjoyed slowly.
Overall: This has great flavor. It has nice bold spices, and good pumpkin flavor. So two serious pluses. It is also impressive how much spice this has without totally overwhelming the palate. It has a decent balance, and a nice malt backbone. Yet I do think that the spices hang a bit too much, and the aftertaste drags some. Were it not for this, and the little alcohol bite, this would be in the top tier no question. Even as it stands, it is very good. It is certainly worth a try, and a good one to enjoy if you don’t want the pumpkin pie style, but still want a warm and bold pumpkin ale.
Overall Rating: ***3/4
About Weyerbacher and this beer: Weyerbacher Brewing Company began in Easton, PA in 1995 with Dan and Sue Weirback. Dan, who was a serious homebrewer, tells the story of his and Sue’s trip to tour the Long Trail brewery, and how it inspired them to start their own. Originally aiming to make “mainstream” brews, Dan and Sue eventually found themselves getting attention for their more full-flavored and higher gravity creations. Some great examples that they eventually landed on include their Blithering Idiot (Barleywine), Heresy (Russian Imperial Stout), and Merry Monk’s (Tripel). A couple of months ago I enjoyed their Quad, while participating in a Skype beer tasting I occasionally am free to join on Friday nights. It was the highlight for me! Anyway, I’ve been encountering Weyerbacher since I was fairly new to craft beer in 2006. And I can say I’ve always looked forward to drinking and trying their beers. They are always big, bold, and rugged. Their history is also something I want to learn more about.
I didn’t get a hold of the folks at Weyerbacher about how exactly they make their pumpkin ale. Of what I’ve found, most of it is printed on the bottle. They use pumpkin as well as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and clove. The cardamom is what I think sets the spice profile apart from some of the other bold and spicy pumpkin ales. Try this if you see it. It is much better than many of the things that might surround it in your beer store.