Thomas Creek Pumpkin Ale is 7.3% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer glass”.
Appearance: Steady then aggressive was my pour. This gave minimal and thin off-white foam, which was gone quickly. The color on this is a very bright and just slightly hazy deep orange/red. This appears to have moderate carbonation.
Smell: I smell roasted pumpkin up front, with some forthright spicing of cinnamon, strong ginger, some nutmeg and maybe some allspice. This has a brown sugar sweetness with a little vanilla and some toastiness from the malt. All in all this is a roasty and malty spiced pumpkin ale, suggesting membership in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. The spice is nice with this. Good aroma.
Taste: This has a great spice wave up front, with warm cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and (I think) allspice. The spicing isn’t bitter or flat, and in fact is quite fresh tasting. This also has a good roasted pumpkin presence, which is joined by some vanilla, brown sugar, and a little molasses near the finish. The malt is smooth and sweet, with some toastiness and light roast. This one finishes with the strong malt and roasted pumpkin fading into some of the pleasant spicing. It has some slight bitterness like from orange peel at the end and into the aftertaste. Really enjoyable well-balanced flavors to this one.
Feel: This ale is medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. This is warm from spicing, round because of its balance, and altogether very pleasant. There is some savory roast, some sweetness and fall spice, and some enjoyable orange peel bitterness. So some complexity to the feel. Good marks.
Drinkability: This is pretty darn drinkable, especially for something with a spice profile this prominent, as well as something over 7%. The sweetness and smooth malt really helps this out here. Pretty good here.
Overall: I’m a fan of this. I only got one 12 oz bottle, and wish I could get some more. I spoke with the folks at Thomas Creek, and they said they sold out of this very quickly. In any case, this has just great balance, and nice strong flavors. It is a real malty pumpkin pie style with roasted pumpkin, fresh spice, orange peel, and some vanilla. If you get a shot at this one, grab a few six-packs. The roasted pumpkin flavor in this is similar to that of AleWerks’ Pumpkin Ale from Virginia, which also has the same ABV. In any case, I was glad to have a great offering from South Carolina, as the only other pumpkin beer I’ve had from the state was RJ Rocker’s, which I enjoyed last year but didn’t think to write home about. Thomas Creek takes the South Carolina pumpkin cake, if you will.
Overall Rating: ***3/4
About Thomas Creek and their offering: Thomas Creek was founded in Greenville, South Carolina in 1998. Tom Davis, owner and brewmaster, leads his team brewing on their 30-barrel system. They produce sought after year-round and specialty releases, from their popular and bold 12.5% “Up the Creek” imperial IPA to their smoother spring seasonal, “Stillwater” vanilla cream ale. In addition to working to produce good quality beer, they express concern to reduce their environmental impact. Like a number of other conservation conscious breweries, Thomas Creek recycles their grain into feed for local cattle, and recycles water used during the beer making process.
I spoke with Josh McGee, “libations facilitator” and member of the marketing team, who was quite helpful. Thomas Creek had basically sold out of all the pumpkin ale, which was picked up rather quickly. Josh was nice to help me locate a bottle. Thomas Creek uses Biscuit, Bonlander Munich, Breiss Cherry Wood Smoked, Crystal, Honey, and Pale malts. Some Cascade and Hallertau help this achieve 26 IBU’s. I’m not so clear on the specific spices in this beer, other than that they are done well. Look out for this offering next year if you have a shot at this beer.