Terrapin “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer (2013)

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Terrapin “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer is 6.1% ABV.

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

Appearance: I poured this with some vigor, to get a half inch of off-white starchy-looking head. This clung for about 2 minutes, bubbling away to leave just a thin cloud atop the beer. The color is a bright orange/amber with a medium haze to it. It looks to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: I get good vegetal pumpkin, along with a warm and inviting spice bill. The spice aroma is like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and maybe some allspice too. The spicing is nice. There is also some brown sugar and grassy malt to this. I get just a touch of citrusy hop right at the end. Good aroma.

Taste: To start I get some nice vegetal and starchy pumpkin, along with the traditional pumpkin pie spices. Here I get cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. There is also some nice brown sugar helping to balance the flavors ,and a touch of vanilla. At the end, the citrusy hops are more noticeable, and add a bit more complexity. The hops balance in this is pretty darn good; adding a bit too much hops easily allows you to lose the nice starch and more subtle vegetal qualities from the pumpkin. This also has really nice herbal notes. This is definitely hoppier than a lot of the other mostly malt-forward pumpkin beers on the market (with the notable exception of Cisco’s “Pumple Drumkin“.) But it is good, and also has good pumpkin flavor. This finishes to let some of the starchy pumpkin and smooth malt get overtaken by more of the citrus and hop flavors. The aftertaste has some citrus and grass from the hops that hang for a bit and bring some sour notes.

Feel: This offering is medium bodied, with moderate (and then some) carbonation. I quite like the feel of this one, for it is dynamic. It starts out smooth with pumpkin, malt, warm spices, and good sweetness. Then you get the more pointed hops and citrus at the end. This ushers in another sip, which is nice. The hops do hang on my palate a bit, though.

Drinkability: This is pretty drinkable. It has complexity, and good restraint with keeping the competing flavors present but not overpowering. This has a richness to it that one might not like if they are after something sessionable. The hops and herbs also keep this from being something super sessionable.  In any case, pretty good marks here.

Overall: I think this is without a doubt a good pumpkin beer. It is “Pumpkinfest”, so a pumpkin oktoberfest. It is also something that fits into the (in my opinion) quite undeveloped category of pumpkin lagers, rather than the majority class of pumpkin ales. The nice herbs and the good hops present at the end give good balance and help this to be dynamic. Most of all, it doesn’t lose its enjoyable and pronounced pumpkin flavors. Good marks here, and a worthwhile pumpkin beer. One of the best non-imperial non-pumpkin-pie pumpkin beers. Definitely worth buying.

Overall Rating: ***1/4

DSC03487Terrapin and their “Pumpkinfest”: Terrapin Beer Co opened in Athens, Georgia in 2002. They started with one beer, their Rye Pale Ale, which won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the American Pale Ale category that same year they opened. What a way to start out. And what a great beer to start with. They’ve also grown quite a bit because of their success, and now have a 100 barrel brewhouse in Athens. I remember ringing in the new year of 2012 in Asheville, NC, while drinking their “Wake ‘N’ Bake” coffee oatmeal stout. It was just perfect. As for their main line, many may also know of Terrapin because of their Hopsecutioner IPA. I say, if you haven’t had the “Pumpkinfest”, grab some before it is gone.

Terrapin makes their German-style pumpkin beer/oktoberfest with real pumpkins in the mash, which I’m learning is more and more the minority way to brew it. Many brewers start out this way, using real pumpkins. But due to convenience, many move to canned squash and add it to the boil. Terrapin speaks about their special blend of spices, which I have to say is really nicely done, and warm and inviting. This includes allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. With 23 IBUs and at 6.1%, this is good for a relaxing early fall evening, maybe even sitting outside.

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