Penn Brewery “Pumpkin Roll” Pumpkin Ale is 6.0% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance: This foamed quite a bit when I poured it from a 45 degree angle I got about two fingers of airy bubbly head. This lasted for a while, still siting atop the beer and leaving some thin lacing 10 minutes in. This has a very hazy medium orange/amber color, and looks like it has heavy carbonation.
Smell: The aroma is not so strong. I get some roasty but not dark malts, some candy sweetness with a bit of sour reminding me of something like sweet tarts, some vanilla, and vegetal squash, yam, or potato aromas. As for spicing, there is not a lot in the aroma that is so distinct. Maybe something like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Alright aroma.
Taste: This has interesting flavors incomparable to any other pumpkin offering I’ve had. Up front it has some sweet starchy and fruity tones that aren’t so clearly pumpkin. This comes along with very strong flavors of a sort of floral artificial vanilla-like sweetness, some muted sour tones, and a coarse spice bill with some pepper to it. The fruitiness in this a lot more like artificial watermelon than pumpkin. The spices aren’t so discernible, but seem to consist in the standard pumpkin pie spices. This is on the creamy side, and has a sweet whipped-cream flavor complementing its other light brown sugar sweetness. This finishes sweet and allows more of the peppery spice to take over. The aftertaste has some astringent vegetal tones, some strong vanilla sweetness, and a bit of coarse spicing hanging on for a bit.
Feel: This is medium bodied, with carbonation on the heavy side. It has some definite creaminess to the feel, like smooth whipped cream. This smoothness is contrasted with the peppery spice that grabs hold more towards the end. The artificiality of the vanilla-sweetness detracts some here. Otherwise a decent feel.
Drinkability: This has decent drinkability. The pepper hangs a bit longer on the palate than I’d like, and the artificial-like sweetness is a bit distracting. Otherwise, this is fine.
Overall: I think the flavors in this are good. I like the whipped cream and the starchy pumpkin. I just wish the vanilla artificiality wasn’t there, and that the spicing had a bit more warmth and a little less coarse pepper. But the flavors are otherwise enjoyable. If you are looking for a smoother and less artificial example of the whipped cream pumpkin pie style, I say try Horseheads.
Overall Rating: **1/4
About Penn Brewery and their offering: Penn Brewery began in 1986 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (though it was not officially named ‘Penn Brewery’ until 1994). They were some of the early craft beer pioneers in the U.S., and the first brewpub in Pennsylvania since prohibition. Penn brewery is situated in an old brewery building from 1848, which is notable for its combination of stone caves and tunnels, originally made to help lager beer before the dawn of refrigeration. The folks at Penn Brewery are quite nice. So I wonder if they do tours of these tunnels! I suppose there could be liability issues. In any case, Penn began with their “Penn Pilsner”, which along with their “Penn Dark” (Dunkel), comprise some of their most popular beers. After a hiatus between 2008 and 2009, which involved a majority buyout, closing, and then a re-buying and reopening, Penn and its brewpub are back in business in Pittsburgh. They now produce 10,000 barrels a year.
Penn makes their pumpkin ale with real pumpkin puree and a spice blend of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. Lactose sugar is thrown in to add body and some creaminess. Hitting 21 IBUs, and staying well within the malty pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales, it is made available from late summer til early fall.