Big Muddy “Pumpkin Smasher” Pumpkin Ale is 6% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: I poured this one steadily and aggressively at the end. This produced under a finger of thin off-white foam, which was gone in a minute or two. This beer has a very hazy light orange/amber, and looks to have moderate to heavy carbonation.
Smell: Up front I notice definite vegetal pumpkin and some bright slightly sour notes. This is a bit fruity, and gives off some sweet orange. On top of this is a layer of spice that seems to amount to cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe a little ginger. This also has a light brown sugar adding to the citrus and sweet fruit notes. The malt in this is smooth and more of a base-layer for the other aromas. I do get a little bit of citrusy hops as well. A very bright aroma.
Taste: This has some bright flavors, as the aroma suggested. I get some light vegetal pumpkin, some orange, as well as some smooth sweetness of mellow malt, light caramel, and vanilla. The spicing is fairly light, and I think is constituted by nutmeg and cinnamon. This is not heavy on the palate, but brings some light fresh pumpkin and spice. The finish is whipped cream sweet and has a little bit of grass with a very mild hops presence. There is some light caramel sweetness, bitter orange peel, and mild and slightly bitter spicing in the aftertaste. Overall bright and pleasant flavors.
Feel: This beer is on the lighter end of medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. It has a nice creaminess, and a smooth sweetness with some bright citrus notes coming through. The malt is soft, with a little spicing adding some slight bitterness. Great feel.
Drinkability: The light flavors and smooth body help this to be pretty great here. It is quite drinkable, and still has solid flavors. Great marks here.
Overall: This is a very tasty offering. The flavors are complex for something this light. I like the bright flavors, and the creamy feel. I also enjoy its mellow malt and its caramel sweetness. I wish the pumpkin flavor was stronger and more pronounced. The citrus and sweetness are more of the centerpiece than the pumpkin is. You get a lot of creaminess and vanilla, which is lovely, though the vanilla does have a tinge of artificiality to it. In any case, the flavors combine well for a very smooth and very drinkable offering out of southern Illinois.
Overall Rating: ***
About Big Muddy and their “Pumpkin Smasher”: Big Muddy Brewing was founded in 2009, in Murphysboro, Illinois. It was the first brewery in Murphysboro in over 50 years, like lots of areas that took a while for crafted beer to return after prohibition. Founder, Chuck Stuhrenberg had been home-brewing since college, and like many others, began to take his hobby more and more seriously. Their first beer was called, “Kinkaid Wheat”, a wheat beer that was thought by Stuhrenberg to be a good beer to transition folks from the corporate brews that were so widely available. Among their most popular beers, we find their Vanilla Stout and their Big Muddy Monster (american brown ale).
“Pumpkin Smasher” is one of big Muddy’s most popular seasonals, which was first released in 2012. They brew it with real pumpkin and some “pumpkin pie spices” including cinnamon and nutmeg. The malt bill includes Pale, Aromatic, and Caramel malt, and is accented by some American hops. “Pumpkin Smasher” is available in 6-packs. I’m a fan of the Bigfoot on their label, which is helping them out by smashing pumpkins. So that’s how they make the beer.