Lakefront “25th Anniversary” Brandy Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Lager (2013)

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Lakefront “25th Anniversary” Brandy Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Lager is 8.0% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz  bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A careful pour produced just very little off-white head, which dissipated fairly quickly and left some medium-thick lacing. The color is a red orange/amber that has a medium haze to it. This looks to have light carbonation.

Smell: To start I get strong sweet liquor, like fragrant rum or (in this case) brandy. There is also some strong vanilla and some buttery round sweetness like from brown sugar and caramel. This is complemented by some roasty pumpkin, and some warm spicing of traditional “pumpkin pie” spices. Because of the strong sweetness and liquor, the spices are harder to discern. This has just a wonderful aroma. I’m very eager to taste it.

Taste: This bursts with wonderful flavors. You get some bold and sweet rum-like flavors with some floral elements, fig, strong vanilla, and sweet cream. There is also some roasty pumpkin to this, as well as some warm and nicely dosed spicing that comes in more towards the end. This includes something like “pumpkin pie” spicing, though the elements are hard to get clear on because of the complexity. There is even more fruit to this, especially towards the end, including some banana. The strong vanilla and sweet cream holds through the finish, with a little spice at the end. The vanilla and the hints of spice hold for a long time in the aftertaste. Just wonderful flavors.

Feel: This lager is medium to heavy bodied, with light to moderate carbonation. The feel has incredible warmth and a pronounced creaminess. It is so buttery and round for feel. This has just a great feel, though with some suggestion that it is up there for ABV. Great marks here.

Drinkability: This is very bold, complex, and intense. Even so, it is round and has serious sweetness to mellow out the higher alcohol. So, though this is best enjoyed as a sip and savor, it does pretty well here too.

Overall: This is certainly one of the best pumpkin beers I’ve ever had. And it is a lager! Who would have thought? I love the complexity in flavor, the balance, and how round the barrel aging makes this. This is a must-try for sure. It provides a lot to explore while drinking it. The only thing I’d say in terms of criticism, aside from the noticeable alcohol, is that it doesn’t have as much clear pumpkin flavor as I’d like. The pumpkin is there, no doubt. But it isn’t front and center. In any case, this is a very creamy, complex, and wonderfully crafted offering from Lakefront. Earlier this season I reviewed their refreshing non-imperial pumpkin lager. This brandy-aged imperial pumpkin really takes things to a whole new level.

Overall Rating: ****1/2

image (31)About Lakefront and their Imperial Pumpkin: Lakefront began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1987. I wrote a little about them here, when I reviewed their standard pumpkin lager. Lakefront recently began their 25th Anniversary Series, consisting of limited release beers to celebrate their brewing journey. The brandy barrel aged Imperial Pumpkin is their third beer in this series.

Lakefront makes their Imperial Pumpkin with pumpkin, notable caramel malt, and a spice bill of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. They add in Madagascar vanilla beans, and round this out with some aging in brandy barrels. This was bottled in early September of this year, and has brought a lot of demand. I hope it will be brewed more in the future.

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