Champion “Kicking and Screaming” Pumpkin IPA is 8% ABV.
I was served a 16 oz pint glass on tap at the brewery.
Appearance: The beer had a finger of off-white head, which dissipated quickly leaving some foamy lacing along the sides of the glass. The color is an orange/amber with a bit of haze. This looks to have minimal carbonation.
Smell: There is some roasty and vegetal pumpkin up front, along with a hearty hop presence. There are nice floral hops in this, as well as some spicing, from which I get some cinnamon. Smells like a hoppy and roasty pumpkin beer. Pretty nice aroma.
Taste: To start there is pumpkin with both roasty and vegetal dimensions and some sweetness of brown sugar and honey. This has some cinnamon that adds a solid but not overwhelming spice kick. The floral hops add some structure. I also get some vanilla as well. This finishes with some more bitterness from the hops, and a touch of citrus. The aftertaste has some hops hanging on and some citrus.
Feel: This is medium bodied, plus some. It has some bitterness on the palate and an assertive hop profile. The flavors are pretty strong, but nothing dragging or too heavy-handed. This makes for a good feel with nice structure and texture.
Drinkability: This isn’t so smooth, which isn’t a complaint. It has a serious hops presence. Even so, the roasted pumpkin and sweetness round that out some. Moreover, the alcohol doesn’t make itself known. So decent on this score.
Overall: I do like this one. I have to be honest. I was not sure I would be satisfied with a pumpkin IPA. My favorites are the roasty full-flavored pumpkin beers, and a bunch of hops seemed like something that would detract from the malt and smooth roasted pumpkin. But this is good. It also has great roasted pumpkin to stand up to the hops. Moreover, it is effective in part because the spicing isn’t overdone. This allowed the roasted pumpkin to stand up to the hops, rather than using a ton of spice that could easily muddy the beer. What speak are the roasty pumpkin and the floral hops. I would definitely get this beer again, though it is not my favorite style of pumpkin ale. I’d definitely recommend it if you like both pumpkin beers and IPA’s. This is the first pumpkin IPA I’ve had, and is certainly a success.
Overall Rating: ***
About Champion and their pumpkin IPA: Champion Brewing opened in Charlottesville, Virginia in November of 2012. They are located in the heart of Charlottesvillle, just a couple of blocks from the historic downtown mall. Hunter Smith, head brewer, leads the brewery in making a number of different and interesting styles on their 3-barrel system. Among their flagships are two interesting beers: their “Face Eater” Gose, and their Tart Berliner Weisse. Champion continually changes their tap list, offering a large number of small-batch beers and barrel-aged beers.
For their “Kicking and Screaming” IPA, which is new this year, they use local Nelson County pumpkins, some Vietnamese cinnamon, and some floral American hops. This big beer is 50 IBU’s and 8% alcohol. Champion was originally not going to do a pumpkin beer. But due to a lot of patrons asking for one, Hunter made it happen, even grilling the pumpkins at his house. I’ve just recently heard that Champion is offering yet another pumpkin beer this season: “Spice Must Flow”, a spiced pumpkin ale. It can be hard to keep up with the pumpkin beers that come out, even in one city.