Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.0% ABV.
I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: I gave this one a delicate pour, and ended up with just a little bit of head that faded fairly quickly, leaving a little bit of thin lacing. This has a bright and deep red orange with a little haze to it. It appears to have moderate carbonation.
Smell: At the outset I get strong roasted pumpkin, a powerful brown sugar sweetness, and warm spicing. The spicing seems to have some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. This is certainly malt-forward, with a little toast but a lot smooth sweetness coming from the malt. I also get a little bit of vanilla to the sweetness. This has a strong aroma with great roasted pumpkin. Wonderful aroma.
Taste: This has strong spicing, deep roasted pumpkin, and a brown sugar sweetness. The spicing is sort of dark and woody, with some roasty notes to it. I get something like cinnamon, clove, and allspice, and some spice like charred oak. Maybe there is some ginger too, as the spice has a little bit of a bite to it. The spicing is very strong, but not sharp. As for the malt, it is smooth, with some toasty notes. The pumpkin flavors are deep and roasty, almost bordering on the juicy dark fruit flavors like cherry, plum, and raisin. Good flavor here. The spicing continues throughout the taste, with a burst of brown sugar near the end, and a finish bringing in some yeast and bitter spicing. There is more notable bitterness in the aftertaste. Great strong flavors to this one.
Feel: This beer is medium bodied plus some, and has moderate carbontion. The feel has a definite warmth to it, and a punch from the strong roast, spice, and sweetness. There is also a slight alcohol bite at the end. Pretty good marks here, save for the dull spicing that hangs on a bit.
Drinkability: This is not the most drinkable. But its sweetness mellows things out some. The yeast and spice at the end hold it back some here too, though again the sweetness and smooth malt help.
Overall: This is a tasty pumpkin ale. I love the roasted pumpkin and the notes of dark fruit. I like the warm and strong spicing as well, and the brown sugar sweetness. Overall I think this is a good beer. I do wish the bitter spicing was toned down a bit, and that it didn’t overcome the finish at the end and hang out for the aftertaste so much. That detracts from this one for me. I remember liking this offering more last year. I still think that it is a good beer, especially for those folks that love the roasted pumpkin and the strong spicing. The wood-like spicing is great, and puts this in a different category than the typical pumpkin pie ales.
Overall Rating: ***1/2
About Longtrail and their Imperial Pumpkin: Andy Pherson founded Long Trail brewery in 1989, while brewing for “Mountain Brewers” at the Bridgewater Woolen Mill in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. He wanted to provide good beer alternatives to the imports that many beer lovers gravitated towards. He eventually picked up the name “Long Trail” for his beer, and has made quite the impact ever since, now only being outsold on draught in Vermont by the big beers of Anheuser Busch. With their ECO Brew initiative, Long Trail has sought to reduce their environmental impact by reducing resources consumed, reusing resources when possible, and recycling resources at the brewery or within their community.
Long Trail first released their imperial pumpkin ale (as well as their non-imperial pumpkin ale) in 2012. After re-branding their “Imperial Pumpkin” from last year, they included this year as their first beer in their new “Brush and Barrel” series. The aim of the Brush and Barrel Series is for artists to design the beer art so that the brewers who design the beer can, along with the artists, “draw creative inspiration from one another”. In this case, the brewmaster is Dave Hartman, who joined Long Trail in 1992, while the visual artist who designed the bottle art is Jess Polanshek, who draws inspiration from the forest. To make this beer, Dave uses Caramel 80L, Caramunich, Two-Row, and Wheat malts. It is brewed with pumpkins, and spicing of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Nugget, Mt. Hood, and Willamette hops take this to 30 IBU’s, a bit more than many of the pumpkin ales on market. This is a cool idea for a series of beers. I look forward to seeing what else is put out in the Brush and Barrel series. I wish the label came off easier, so that the art was easy to save.