Hardywood Park “Rum Pumpkin” Rum Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale (2013)

image (22)

Hardywood Park “Rum Pumpkin” Rum Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale is 10.5% ABV.

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

Appearance: A careful pour quickly tossed up well over two fingers of foamy bright off-white head, which slowly dissipated to leave thick lacing along the sides of the glass. This has a clear and very bright burnt orange color. Judging from the head and the bubbles (and the sound when I uncorked this), it looks to have very heavy carbonation.

Smell: To start I get some strong and warm rum that brings some booziness. There is also some warm pumpkin pie spicing, though it blends in with the rum such as to not project any one spice so clearly, save for maybe some ginger. The spice does have a bit of an earthy white peppery or gingery sting to it. This beer also has strong floral notes to it, and some citrus. All in all, strong rum with some added complexity. Nice aroma.

Taste: There is quite strong rum to start, which is joined by some earthy and warm spicing with some roasted flavors. The roasted flavor isn’t unimpeachably pumpkin, but I think it does get across some pumpkin. This also has a strong but not overdone sweetness like from some honey and brown sugar, though with some definite dark rum thrown in as well. A lot of spice contributes to the flavor of this, moreso than with the non-rum-aged Farmhouse Pumpkin that I reviewed last night. I get a slight bitter pop from the spices in this, as from white pepper or ginger. This also has less of a yeast presence, with the barrel aging rounding out some of the otherwise funky and citrusy qualities had by Hardywood’s non-barrel-aged Farmhouse Pumpkin. This has some of those funky qualities, though they are fewer in number and a lot more subdued. This finishes with a good bit of dark rum and brown sugar sweetness with some citrus notes. It has some residue of yeast in the aftertaste. Great strong flavors with solid rum throughout.

Feel: This is medium bodied to heavy bodied, with heavy carbonation.The feel is bold, and quite warm. There is definite booziness to this, though the sweetness smooths some of this out. The warmth and strong rum stays with me. So a good and bold feel, even if a bit boozy.

Drinkability: This is a strong beer with strong rum. So it is far from something that merits the label drinkable. It is a definite sipper, especially as the more I sip this, the more I notice flavors coming through. Some lemon comes through.

Overall: This is bold, with intense flavors of rum and earthy spice. The strong rum in this is quite nice, as it imparts a great warmth and some enjoyable sugar. There are some enjoyable citrus and spice contributions that come through more strongly in parts. The pumpkin is there, but is not as front and center as the non-rum-aged version, especially given the strength of the rum. This also, like its non-rum-aged version, has a great earthiness to it. This would be great with a savory dinner, or nice as an after-dinner drink. It could even stand up to a cigar if someone was so inclined. So it is good. Even so, I do prefer the non-rum-aged version I reviewed here, as it has more nuance and complexity in flavor. The rum is tasty, and adds great flavor. Yet it does cover up some of the complex parts of Hardywood’s farmhouse pumpkin ale. In any case, you can’t go wrong either way. You trade off some wonderful nuance for some great rum, rounded flavors, and serious warmth.

Overall Rating: ***3/4

image (21)About Hardywood Park and their “Rum Pumpkin”: Yesterday I wrote a little about Hardywood Park, when I reviewed their “Farmhouse Pumpkin”, the beer they age in rum barrels to make this “Rum Pumpkin”. They are a great brewery, which has really changed things for both the beer scene in Richmond, Virginia, and more generally, for Virginia beer.

Hardywood Park makes “Rum Pumpkin” by aging their farmhouse pumpkin ale in dark Caribbean rum barrels for months. The aim is to impart great flavor from the white-oak barrels, and to allow some dark molasses notes. This beer was released for the first time on October 12th, 2013 with a two bottle limit per customer, just as a number of Hardywood’s other Barrel Series beers have been set to. At $14 for a 750ml, it isn’t cheap. But it is worth it, especially for rum enthusiasts or those searching for the perfect full-flavored autumn beer to bring to Thanksgiving.

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