Two Roads “Roadsmary’s Baby” Pumpkin Ale (2013)

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Two Roads “Roadsmary’s Baby” Pumpkin Ale is 6.8% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz  bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: I got a little bit of off-white and thin foam when I poured this. This didn’t last long, and settled to just barely cover the surface of the beer in the 5 minutes or so I watched it. The color is a somewhat cloudy deep mahogany/orange . It looks to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: I get a little rum and some vegetal pumpkin up front. There is also a pleasant and interesting spice mix. The spices are something like your standard fare pumpkin spices, but with an interesting Caribbean kick.  There is also some molasses sweetness to the aroma. The malt is pretty mellow. Overall good aroma that is fairly tame.

Taste: To start I get nice mellow and round oak, along with a warm but not too strong booziness of rum. There is some vegetal pumpkin in this, as well as some spicing that adds some depth of flavor. The spices, as in the aroma, seem to be in the pumpkin pie spice category, but with some edge that makes them unique among the many other pumpkin ales that spice the way most U.S. pumpkin pies do. I get some cinnamon and nutmeg, maybe some clove too. The spices seem to be Caribbean again. The malt is fairly tame, and on the velvety side. I get a moderate hops presence in this, which is clearer towards the end. This finishes a little more on the sweet side, with some vanilla shining through. The aftertaste has some of the wood and some of the bitterness from the hops. Really enjoyable and delicious flavors. Great oak and rum that contribute without overpowering. Solid here!

Feel: This is medium bodied, and has moderate carbonation. The feel has some warmth from the spices and rum, and that bit of booziness. I suppose it is a little boozier than I’d want a 6-7% beer to be. Yet that is only a small thing I notice. The wood adds a great dimension to the feel. So good marks here.

Drinkability: This has some strong flavors of rum and some spicing that, though well done, doesn’t lend itself to allowing this beer to be a gulper. Nevertheless, this is fairly round and doesn’t linger too much on the palate. Were it not for the bit of booziness, this would be darn good for a beer aged in rum barrels. I do love that this gets that rum flavor without being 10%.

Overall: This no doubt has great flavors. The round oak, rum, Caribbean spices, and the vanilla at the end are all nice. And they are nice together. This makes for a really enjoyable drink. There is that bit of booziness. Other than that, this is quite nice. As for comparing this to some big one’s out there, I’d say that I’d rather drink this offering from Two Roads than Southern Tier’s much-worshiped “Pumking”, though I think this offering is a bit less complex and round than something like Hoppin’ Frog’s Barrel Aged Double Pumpkin. It is sort of a close call, though. In any case, I would definitely recommend this offering from Two Roads. As a new brewery, I look forward to the road they have ahead of them, and the beers they make next.

Overall Rating: ***3/4

DSC03586About Two Roads and “Roadsmary’s Baby”: Two Roads Brewing opened about 10 months ago in a century old factory they restored in Stratford, Connecticut. They named the brewery “Two Roads”, as they say that life often offers folks two ways to go. They note on their website that they prefer the road less traveled by, and that this has affected the thinking of their master brewer, Phil Markowski. Phil has brewed at many different breweries, where he has won dozens of medals from the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.  Phil also wrote a very well received book on my favorite beer style, which is entitled, “Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition”. Among his main aims for brewing at Two Roads is to create interesting and new takes on classic beer styles, something a number of brewers seem to care about these days. Florian Kuplent from Urban Chestnut in St. Louis spoke with me about similar aims he has for his Revolution Series. So Two Roads is part of a good group of folks trying new things while caring to respect the old styles. As part of their factory restoration, Two Roads is planning a second story tasting room and an outdoor beer garden. So make sure to stay updated on that if you are in their area. I’m eager to check them out when I am next near Stratford.

I spoke with Emily Sauter, the marketing coordinator at Two Roads. She was very helpful, but wasn’t able to let me in on very much about the process for brewing “Roadsmary’s Baby”. Apparently Phil is pretty secretive. She did say that Phil uses Jamaican rum barrels, which makes sense given the spicing of the beer. Their website also doesn’t add much beyond that, other than it is brewed with rum, pumpkin, spices, and vanilla. Whatever is done, it is certainly artfully crated.

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