St George “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer (2013)

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St George “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer is 6.0% ABV.

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

Appearance: Pouring carefully gave just a small amount of off-white and thin foam, which was gone pretty quickly. This has pretty good clarity, though with some fine particles floating around. The color is a bright toasted orange/amber. It looks to have heavy carbonation.

Smell: Up front I get a lot of spice, and a lot of sweetness. The sweetness has strong vanilla and some whipped cream. The spicing is warm, and gives off some cinnamon and nutmeg. There is some toastiness and some earthiness to the malt, as one might expect of an oktoberfest-style beer. There is also some vegetal pumpkin to it. Really great aroma. Reminds me somewhat of the aroma from Horsehead’s pumpkin ale, but with more pepper to it.

Taste: This has pretty good flavor up front: some herbal and bitter earthy notes, some vegetal tones, a bit of standard “pumpkin pie” spicing, and some vanilla sweetness. There is some great toasted grain to this with some nice breadiness. The spicing is less intense than I thought it would be, and gives off nutmeg and cinnamon. There is something like vegetal pumpkin in this, though it is on the light side. The sweetness is also more restrained in the taste than the aroma suggested, giving off some vanilla and some creaminess. This finishes to let more pepper and earthiness take over the cream and vanilla sweetness, leaving some mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

Feel: This beer is light bodied, with heavy carbonation. The feel has something like a little lactose  to it, but with some bitter spicing and pepper coming through as well. It also has a nice soft breadiness to the feel.

Drinkability: This is certainly on the drinkable side, save for a little of the pepper and slight bitterness holding on. It is low in ABV, has a consistent and prominent sweetness, and a light body. Good here.

Overall: This is an enjoyable offering from St. George. It is the first year they have made it, and I’m told they sold out very quickly, at least in part because it was a very small release. I was happy to get some. I think this beer is good, with nice flavors, and nothing overdone. I wish there was a more noticeable pumpkin presence to this beer, with some clearer vegetal or roasty pumpkin. In fact some clearer vegetal pumpkin would add nice complexity to the malt in this. Even so, I enjoyed this beer and would certainly recommend it to folks. The sweetness is more unique and enjoyable. The spice is there but restrained. And it is overall well crafted. It is worth the buy, if you were lucky enough to get a shot at this one. One interesting thing is that this beer has the exact same name as Terrapin’s “Pumpkinfest”, which is also an oktoberfest/pumpkin beer offering.

Overall Rating: ***

image (27)About St George and “Pumpkinfest”: St George Brewing has been open in Hampton, Virginia for 15 years. It was named after St. George, a third century Roman soldier, venerated martyr, and (in myths) dragon slayer. Andy Rathmann, brewmaster, has created a number of very well received beers for St George. This includes their English Porter and, one of my favorites, their Imperial Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout that I drank and loved back in 2006 when it was called “Winter Stout” and had a picture of a war-hammer on the bottle.

A couple of summers ago I visited St George, and remember how very hot the brew-house locations were for the folks who put out their great beer. I remember thinking how it was such a great counterexample to the confused myth that working in a  brewery is something like a laid back and comfortable job. I visited before the passing of Senate Bill 604, so during a time when pints could not be purchased at the brewery. Things have changed, and St George is alleged to be working on a more substantial tasting room for folks to come and enjoy their beer.

St. George makes “Pumpkinfest” as an oktoberfest-style, with some of the typical pumpkin pie spicing added in. I haven’t heard much else about how this beer was made, so it is sort of a mystery, much like some of the life of St. George himself. (I may add a little more about the beer here, if I find some things out.) This beer was released on the afternoon of September 25th, and I’m told (i) it was not distributed out of the Hampton-Rhodes area, and (ii) it went very quickly. We’ll see if they make more of it next year.

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