Hardywood Park “Farmhouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale (2013)

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Hardywood Park “Farmhouse Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale is 8.5% ABV.

I poured some of a 750 ml  bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A careful pour gave a finger of bright off-white foam, which slowly dissipated to leave some froth on the surface of the beer. This is slightly hazy with a bright burnt orange color. It looks to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: To start there is nice roasted pumpkin along with some bready yeast and funky notes. Smells like a roasted pumpkin farmhouse ale. I get some earthy white pepper, bright citrus, brown sugar, and some warm spicing. The spicing isn’t so easy to individuate by its component, due to the strong yeast and other flavors. I get some cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, I think. Really great aroma. My favorite things: roasty pumpkin and saison qualities.

Taste: The first sip was just so flavorful: roasted pumpkin, and great complexity from the yeast, citrus, spice, and sugar. This just overtakes with powerful flavors. The roasted pumpkin is noticeable throughout, as the bready yeast is. This isn’t as funky as I was expecting from the aroma. I guess the sugar rounds things out a bit. This just has great earthy flavors, with spices of (I think) allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This also has a white peppery bitterness with the spicing, adding a great match to the citrus and funky yeast. This finishes with a little more white-pepper-like bitterness and yeast along with a citrus tang. Some mild yeast and peppery bitterness in the aftertaste. What a great example of a non-traditional pumpkin ale with great roasted pumpkin flavor.

Feel: This is medium bodied plus, with moderate carbonation. It has an earthy feel, with the yeast, citrus, and spices adding texture, while the roasted pumpkin and sweetness round it out. The pepper notes do grab hold and attract some attention.

Drinkability: This is a full-flavored beer with a substantive yeast presence. So it is not a paradigm drinkable pumpkin ale. Even so, the sugar and the roasted pumpkin smooth things out some. Because of the bold and contrasting flavors in this, it isn’t one to really barrel through.

Overall: I like this beer quite a bit. I love saisons and other farmhouse ales. Having one with a roasty pumpkin presence is quite nice. I’ve had this beer in the past, and look forward to having it each year since it came out in 2011. This year I like it even more than I remember. The sugar was well-balanced, the citrus notes were bright, and the yeasty elements substantive but not overwhelming. And all that paired well with the roasted pumpkin and the spicing. Given all that is going on in this beer, it could get busy quick. But it doesn’t. It is an artfully crafted beer, another very good offering from Virginia. Check in tomorrow when I review Hardwood’s “Rum Pumpkin”, their farmhouse pumpkin aged in rum barrels!

Overall Rating: ***3/4

DSC03649About Hardywood Park and their “Farmhouse Pumpkin”: Co-founders, Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh opened Hardywood Park in Richmond, Virginia in October of 2011. As the story on their website goes, McKay and Murtaugh had been lifelong friends, and were inspired in 2001 during a trip to Australia to make some of the best craft beer in the world. Since then both have done a lot en route to achieving this goal, much of which can be read about on their website. They have also done a lot for the beer culture in Virginia, being instrumental in getting Senate Bill 604 to pass. That bill allowed on-site consumption of beer at breweries in Virginia, a privilege already enjoyed by wineries in the state. Moreover, the folks at Hardywood seem to pride themselves on being involved with the local community, by locally sourcing their ingredients, hosting community events, and participating at a number of farmers markets. If you come near Richmond, Virginia, Hardywood Park is located near the historic Fan neighborhood, just north of Broad street, in a massive 12,000 square foot warehouse. During release days for their beer, you can expect a big crowd.

Hardywood makes their Wallonian-style farmhouse ale with a saison yeast and barley, rye, and wheat for their grain. They add roasted Virginia-grown sugar pumpkins, brown sugar, and spices fresh or bought at local businesses. For spicing they use allspice, Ceylon cinnamon, fresh organic ginger root, Grenada nutmeg,  and Madagascar cloves.

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