Lakefront Pumpkin Lager (2013)

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Lakefront Pumpkin Lager is 5.8% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a pilsner glass.

Appearance: I poured this carefully into the glass. This produced a half-inch of off-white foam, which was gone before it came, leaving no head. This is quite clear with a bright orange/amber color. It looks to have very heavy carbonation.

Smell: I get very crisp vegetal pumpkin up front, along with some earthy and smooth spices. I get some cinnamon and nutmeg, and something else almost oaky. This has some sweetness of honey and light brown sugar, some light toasty malt that has some biscuit to it. The smell is very fresh inviting.

Taste: The flavors are really good in this one. This is much better than I remember it being last year. Maybe I got a fresher bottle this time around. This has some nice vegetal pumpkin, which contributes good flavor. It has some smooth and enjoyable spicing, which I take to have some cinnamon, nutmeg, and some ginger too. There is some nice light, toasty, and biscuity malt contributing to the smooth flavors. Finally it has great and well-balanced sweetness of honey with a touch of darker sweetness as well. This finishes with the honey-sweetness, to give way to the nice smooth spicing. There is a little bit of pleasant spice in the aftertaste, but not a whole lot that hangs on. Other than the tinge of artificiality in spicing that comes with the finish and a little into the aftertaste, these flavors are really nice here.

Feel: This is light bodied, with heavy carbonation. The feel is very smooth, and light on the palate. The flavors don’t punch or create much friction. But we do get some warmth for the spicing. Really good here.

Drinkability: This is certainly up there for drinkability. And it doesn’t sacrifice all the pumpkin flavor to achieve it. It is smooth and light. Were it not for the slight spice artificiality, this would be top of the charts on this score.

Overall: This is such a tasty and pleasant beer to drink. Good pumpkin flavor for something this light. Nice spicing that doesn’t overpower, but that still contributes flavor. Great marks for all kinds of things. As I drink this, I am really enjoying how smooth it is, and how the pumpkin stays with it. But the spices do begin to drag some after a little bit of drinking this. As it stands, it is still good. And it is one of the only pumpkin lagers I’ve seen. So yeah, its worth a try.

Overall Rating: **1/2

DSC03457About Lakefront and their standard pumpkin lager: Lakefront Brewery opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1987. Brothers Russ and Jim Klisch began with homebrewing. Through some family competition, and some love for the hobby, they eventually got motivated to try it as a business. The brothers worked to refurbish old equipment and to build their own (including a bottling machine) as their demand quickly grew. Even from early on they were working to keep up, where needing 72 barrels in 1988 was tough. Now their landmark brewery on the Milwaukee River pushed out over 33,000 barrels in 2012.

Their standard pumpkin lager is the second major distributed pumpkin beer in the U.S., second only to Buffalo Bills, who brought pumpkin beer back to life in the states. Lakefront is also the first pumpkin lager to be marketed and produced in the states. Lakefront speaks of this as the only pumpkin lager in the world, which is pretty exciting. I know of Elysian’s Hansel and Gretel Pumpkin Pilsner, which of course can be classified as a lager, though it was produced well after Lakefront’s. But in any case, ‘lager’ meaning a style of beer is different than ‘lager’ being a whole category that we can contrast with ‘ales’ and other hybrid styles. Regardless, the history of this beer is pretty interesting.

Jim Klisch found an article in a magazine that discussed alternative ways to get starches into beer. Jim used this “ale recipe”, but tweaked it and brewed it with lager yeast. I’m not so clear on the connection to Thomas Jefferson that I’ve heard some of here and there. But I’ve been told that Lakefront’s recipe was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s own recipe.

Lakefront makes this lager with 36 pounds of canned pumpkin for every 50 barrels of beer. They use Spice House spices (including cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice) at the end of the boil.  Every year they increase the production numbers. This year they’ll hit about 2000 barrels of this tasty beer, up from about 1400 from last year. Cheers to growing.

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