Cigar City “Good Gourd ” Pumpkin Ale is 8.5% ABV.
I poured some of a 750 ml bottle into a Belgian-ale glass.
Appearance: I gave a heavy pour which made two fingers of off-white and bubbly foam. This hung on pretty well for a few minutes, then dwindled and left minimal lacing along the sides of the glass, as well as some bubbles that still covered the surface of the beer. This has a deep reddish-orange color, and some cloudiness. It looks to have mild to moderate carbonation.
Smell: The aroma on this is very strong. This has intense roasted pumpkin, warm and punchy tropical spices, and some nice vanilla and brown sugar sweetness. This is definitely on the maltier side, with some smooth caramel-like malt to it. The spices I am getting are like some kind of cinnamon and nutmeg, but with more of a flare than your grocery store “pumpkin pie spice”. This also has some tropical fruit notes, maybe something like papaya. The smell on this is just incredible. Robust, full, and inviting. Now I get to taste it.
Taste: Wow. What a complex, full-flavored, rich beer. This is incredible. It has absolutely delicious roasted pumpkin, some wonderful tropical spice notes, bold but not overdone spicing, nicely blended sweetness, and some overall great tropical fruit notes. The spices give me the impression of cinnamon and nutmeg, and maybe something darker and more woody like clove. But the spices are also so different than your standard fare “pumpkin pie spices”. They are fresh, earthy, and incredibly aromatic. The pumpkin flavor is solid throughout, only being accented by the tough to pin-down tropical spices. This, as in the aroma, also has some tropical fruit notes as well. I get papaya, just great juicy but not too acidic tropical fruit notes. All of this balances so well with the powerful base layer of strong sweet vanilla, that has some dosing of brown sugar thrown in. This finishes to let the juicy fruit and roasted pumpkin fade away, leaving some strong vanilla and a little texture of spice. The aftertaste has some of the spice, and some vanilla hanging on but not dragging.
Feel: This is medium to full bodied, with just such a warm and full feel to it. There is a little bit but not very much by way of alcohol poking through. The powerful pumpkin, sweetness, and spices are what you really get on the palate. The spices add some lovely texture to the feel, some great character. I quite like the feel on this one, though I don’t mind some aggressive or robust profiles demanding attention.
Drinkability: This is easy to drink, as it is so delicious. It is not, however, an “easy drinking” pumpkin ale. The flavors are powerful and captivating. So it is more of a sipper. Even so, for something between 8 and 9% ABV, it is quite smooth.
Overall: This is an absolute must try. For someone like me, it is a real winner. That is, it has things I really like: great bold pumpkin flavor, great character from its interesting flavors, and great texture. This is especially impressive with texture. Moreover, the spices and sweetness and pumpkin are all unforgiving. Yet their presences don’t create conflict, the mark of an artful craft beer. This is as close to the gold standard as I’ve ever seen a pumpkin beer get, though there is the wonderful Steven’s Point “Whole Hog” that is worth mentioning as something of a gold standard as well. Even so, I find the “Good Gourd” more intense and more full with flavor. The Stevens Point is an incredible beer. For my tastes, though, this bolder, more rich offering from Cigar City has the slightest of advantages. If it wasn’t for the little alcohol bite this has at the end, this beer would be perfect. If you live in Florida, and this is easy for you to get, I am jealous of you. I think I like this even more than I did last year.
Overall Rating: ****3/4
Cigar City and their “Good Gourd”: Cigar City began in Tampa, Florida in 2008. Joey Redner (Jr.), who is from Tampa, got together with Wayne Wambles. Wayne was a seasoned professional brewer, so Joey hired him as brewmaster. Cigar City has received just astounding recognition for their work, being rated in the top 5 breweries in the world by numerous publications. They assert two main goals: to make the best beer in the world, and to bring the unique and wonderful Hispanic culture of Tampa to folks all over the world. As of April 2013, Cigar City opened up a brewpub, to provide great food for accompanying their marvelous beers. A friend of mine lives in Gainesville, FL. When she last visited in the Summer, she brought me some of Cigar City’s lovely Jai Alai IPA, and their Maduro Brown Ale. It is always such a treat to have their beers, and to have generous friends.
Cigar City makes their “Good Gourd” in 750 ml bottles. They add pumpkin into the mash- a lost art in many breweries today. For their spicing, they use Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, and nutmeg. And what a spice combo it is. In even more limited quantities, they release “Good Gourd Almighty”, which is “Good Gourd” aged in rum barrels. Getting your hands on that beer I hear can turn out to be more than a bit of a challenge.