Harpoon “UFO” Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale (2013)


Harpoon “UFO” Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale is 5.9% ABV.

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

Appearance: After a heavy pour I got a finger of frothy off-white foam. This dissipated to just a dollop of foam atop the beer, and left a little lacing. This has a hazy orange/iced tea color, and seems to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: I get quite a bit of yeast to start, with some vegetal pumpkin and spicing following. The pumpkin flavor has some sour notes to it, and smells starchy. The spicing is warm and seems to consist of nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, though none so clear. There is a definite honey sweetness, and some citrus giving off some orange. Smooth malt and very little hops in the aroma suggests that this will be malt-forward.

Taste: This is a nice citrusy and malty pumpkin ale. The pumpkin flavor isn’t so strong with it, but is enjoyable. This has some vegetal pumpkin, and a soft spice mix. The spices, like the aroma clued at, aren’t so clearly discernible, though are something like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. They add some warmth and a little depth in an otherwise very smooth flavor profile. There is a honey-sweetness that compliments the citrus and the vegetal tones well. This finishes with the spice giving some fine white pepper on top of the slightly sour vegetal tones. Some of both of these continues into the aftertaste.

Feel: This is light bodied, with a soft malt base. The slightly sour and astringent tones from the pumpkin add some complexity, as the tame spice bill does as well. This has a decent feel. Nothing terribly complex, but nothing dragging either.

Drinkability: I’d say this is pretty good here. The sour tones do break up the otherwise very smooth and soft experience of drinking this. They hang on a little more than I’d like, but aren’t a huge distraction. Pretty easy and refreshing otherwise.

Overall: This is an enjoyable pumpkin ale. It is middle of the road for ABV. It has some pumpkin flavor, though, for my tastes, I’d want some more. There is a notable astringency with some sourness that comes out on top of the otherwise very soft malt and tame spicing. The spicing adds some complexity, but isn’t so notable or interesting in its own right. If someone were looking for a citrusy low-ABV pumpkin ale with a tame spice presence, say for having on a hotter fall day for something like tubing down the river, this would be great. Because of the astringency, it would pair well with some savory food.

Overall Rating: **1/4

DSC03606About Harpoon and their “UFO” pumpkin: Richard Doyle, Dan Kenary, and George Ligetti started Harpoon Brewery in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts. You can find a whole lot of great information about their history on their website. So there’s no real need for me to get into it here. I was in Boston about a year ago, and unfortunately made it to Harpoon too late to get a spot in their informational tour. Next time.

Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin ale is part of their “UnFiltered Offering” series. I spoke about this beer with Liz Melby, director of communications at Harpoon, who was very generous with her time and assistance. Really all the interactions I’ve had with the folks at Harpoon have been great. When I had visited the brewery to find out the tour was full, they gave me free tour tickets for next time I ventured there. In any case, this unfiltered beer is made with German, Munich, and Vienna malts. They add pumpkin and spices that they say are “reminiscent of pumpkin pie”. Northwestern hops takes this to 20 IBU’s, making it a great drinkable pumpkin ale for the warmer fall days. Look out for my review of their Imperial Pumpkin Ale tomorrow!


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