Alley Kat “Pumpkin Pie” Spiced Ale is 5.4% ABV.
I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: A steady turned hard pour tossed up just a small bit of very thin and off-white foam, which lasted less than two minutes and left little trace. This beer has a beautiful dark orange/amber color, with crystal clarity. Few carbonation bubbles rising suggest light carbonation.
Smell: Some vegetal pumpkin, darker malt, and mellow spice is noticeable at the outset. On top of the fleshy vegetal pumpkin are some sweet notes of dark fruit, as from cherry and plum. The spicing seems to be made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I also get a little brown sugar to this one, which is nice along the smooth lightly toasted malt. Great aroma, which is on the lighter side.
Taste: To start I get some pumpkin that is on the vegetal side. There is some toasty malt that also has some roast to it, as well as some light and well-incorporated spicing of (I think) cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. This, as in the aroma, has some darker fruit notes to it, like sweet dark cherry and plum. A little bit of brown sugar joins the somewhat juicy fruit notes. The flavors in this are very smooth. This finishes with more of the darker fruit giving way to some brown sugar and a stronger spice presence. The aftertaste is fairly light with a little spicing and some slightly sour fruit. Great restrained and very smooth flavors in this one.
Feel: This is light bodied, with light to moderate carbonation. The feel is very smooth, and lighter than I was expecting. It is not so warm. But it is very clean, and quite sessionable. Good marks here.
Drinkability: This is certainly among the most drinkable pumpkin ales that still have some flavor and pumpkin flavor to them. This has good pumpkin, good spice, and some roasty malt. The spices don’t drag, and it is very clean. So great marks here.
Overall: This is the third beer from a Canadian brewery on this site! And it was a great one to try. This offering from Alley Kat has just great flavor, and a very smooth and clean feel. It is among the cleanest pumpkin ales I’ve ever had. There is some very nice and somewhat delicate brown sugar and spice which complement the toasty and mildly roasty malt. The balance of flavors is also done quite well in this one. It doesn’t have really complex or deep flavors to it. But it would be highly ranked for me among the sessionable pumpkin ales that don’t give up on having flavor. Overall it is very tasty, especially for something so low in ABV. I think it is nicely done.
Overall Rating: **3/4
About Alley Kat and their offering: Alley Kat Brewing was founded in Edmonton, Alberta in 1994. Co-owner and brewer, Neil Herbst decided to bring his home-brew recipes public. Beginning with 22 oz bottles, Alley Kat eventually moved to sell their beer in their “Kool Kat” six-packs. An evolving re-branding came to replace Alley Kat’s original “Kool Kat” art and packaging with the more restrained label art it currently has. Alley Kat currently produces their “Alley Kat Amber” brown ale, “Aprikat” apricot wheat ale, “Charlie Flint’s” lager, “Full Moon” pale ale, Alley Kat Grapefruit ale, as well as a number of other one-off or limited production beers. Alley Kat is the 4th oldest and among the most successful craft breweries in Alberta. Their beer can be found all over Alberta as well as in Seoul, South Korea.
I corresponded some with Charlene Langridge, manager of marketing and sales, who let me know a little about how they make their “Pumpkin Pie” spiced ale. Alley Kat uses real pumpkin, and a spice combination of ginger and cinnamon. Alley Kat notes that important to their recipe is their balance of spice and pumpkin flavor. Originally not intended to be a yearly release, this beer has been brought back yearly due to a lot of positive support for it. This year they had a release party for the beer on October 3rd, replete with a tour and some extra treats. It is certainly a smooth and enjoyable take on the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. Another serious pumpkin offering out of Canada.