Fordham Spiced Harvest Ale (2013)


Fordham Spiced Harvest Ale is 6.6% ABV.

I poured some of a 12 oz  bottle into a “craft beer glass”.

Appearance: An aggressive pour produced about two fingers of off-white and thin foam. This didn’t last long, even while I was getting a picture. The color on this is a hazy light orange/amber that looks somewhat like iced tea. It looks to have light carbonation.

Smell: At the front, I get vegetal pumpkin with some slight sour notes. The pumpkin is clear and smells fresh. There is also a nice spice background to this. I get cinnamon, allspice, and clove. The malt in this has caramel qualities, a little toast, and some grassiness. This has a good and fresh aroma to it.

Taste: I get some smooth caramely malt, some vegetal pumpkin, some honey sweetness, and a pleasant layer of pumpkin pie spicing. The malt presence has some toast and grassiness to it, which pairs nicely with the crisp vegetal pumpkin. This is also mildly astringent. I also get some smooth honey, which works nicely with the toast and grassiness. As for spice, I find some cinnamon, allspice, and clove. Maybe there are more too. This finishes to let the smooth malt give more of the spotlight to the slightly bitter spicing at the end. Some of this lightly peppered spice is noticeable in the aftertaste.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation. The honey sweetness, smooth malt, and balanced spice make this one pretty good for feel. It is smooth, but with some warmth. The spices do give a little bit of bitterness at the end. This also imparts some earthiness, though. Good marks here.

Drinkability: This is pretty easy to drink. It is not high in ABV, has smooth flavors, and doesn’t hang on the palate like some others. The slight spice on the aftertaste adds some texture, which makes me less apt to drink this fast. Pretty good marks here.

Overall: This is definitely a worthwhile pumpkin ale. It reminds me quite a bit of Wolaver’s Organic Pumpkin Ale. Both this and the Wolaver’s have nice fresh-tasting pumpkin, a decent but not overwhelming spice bill, and a smooth malt presence. The Fordham is warmer with the spices than Wolaver’s, and has less pumpkin presence to it. But the flavors in both are good and well balanced. Overall, I say this offering from Fordham is a good beer.

Overall Rating: ***

DSC03533About Fordham and their offering: Fordham was founded in 1995 in Annapolis, Maryland. Originally, Fordham consisted of a brewery that made beer for The Rams Head Tavern. The brewery was named after Benjamin Fordham, who recieved a charter from Queen Anne in 1703 to start a brewery. As they picked up more and more fans, they eventually relocated in 2003 to Dover, Delaware.

In 2007 Fordham merged with Old Dominion Brewing, which started as a brewpub in 1989 in Ashburn, Virginia. In 2009, they then merged into one outfit for operations. They do regular tours at their location in Dover, Delaware, which from what I hear, fill up fast.

Fordham makes their pumpkin ale by adding a few small pumpkins that they grow in their own patch. These go into the boil. Like a number of other breweries, Fordham aims for more of the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. To keep their beer sweet and smooth, they put honey in during the boil as well. They also spice in secondary, with real ginger, and cinnamon, clove and allspice.

I spoke with Lauren Bigelow over at Fordham. She noted that they have been needing to up their production of Spiced Harvest Ale every year since they began with it in 2010.  Their first year brewing it, when they only distributed it in their variety packs, they brewed 100 barrels. In 2012, they brewed 200 barrels, and sold out of it in three weeks.  This 2013 season, they brewed 400 and sold out of it before the beer could leave the building. So, grab this one while you can. It’s worth it.


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