Lickinghole Creek “Pumpkin Ain’t Easy” Pumpkin Ale is 8% ABV.
I was served a 16 oz pint in a plastic cup at the brewery for the beer’s release party.
Appearance: This was served with no real head. The color is a very cloudy bright burnt orange. It looks to have light carbonation.
Smell: The aroma to this one is not very strong. There are some real earthy and light pepper notes. Not much by way of pumpkin. This also has some earthy herbal yeast, as well as some funkiness. There are some sour notes to it with some slight astringency, and maybe a little vegetal squash. Nice earthy aroma.
Taste: Very bold flavor hits you at the front. There are very strong spice notes, including some coarse pepper. It is very earthy, and surprisingly spice-forward. I get good sweet pumpkin flavor and a touch of roast. The sweetness is strong with this, and is like sticky toffee and caramel. The malt presence is smooth and not super dynamic. This finishes with more of the sweetness and some bright hops notes, which come out on top of the heavy spice. The aftertaste has definite earthy spice and pepper. Overall the flavors in this are bold and enjoyable. The pumpkin was strong, such that I was almost expecting to get some pumpkin flesh stuck between my teeth!
Feel: This bold beer is medium bodied plus, with moderate carbonation. It has a velvety feel from the malt, which is made more complex with the spicing coming in. This is obviously unfiltered, with great texture and complexity. Great feel.
Drinkability: Some good smoothness is had by this beer. The ABV doesn’t hit you hard, probably in part because of the strong sugar. The spice is very heavy with this beer, and so puts a bit of a damper on this being a paradigm drinkable beer.
Overall: This is another serious and well crafted pumpkin beer out of Virginia. We went to the brewery for the release party for the beer, which was a great event. This is the latest pumpkin beer release of the season I have heard of. It is certainly the latest release in the state of Virginia, and likely to be among the last pumpkin beers released across the U.S. This is in part because Lickinghole Creek grew their own pumpkins and had a later harvest. In any case, and back to the beer, this has a wonderful and complex earthy flavor. It has strong pumpkin, sweetness, and spice. The flavors are bold, and make for an interesting and worthwhile beer that demands your attention. I would definitely buy this beer again, which went for 13 dollars for each 750ml bottle (if I remember correctly). The price for the bottle was a tad high, but it is good. This would be especially great for folks who want strong pumpkin and spice.
Overall Rating: ***1/2
About Lickinghole Creek and their Offering: Lickinghole Creek opened in Goochland, Virginia in late September 2013. So it hasn’t been open long at all. Brewmaster Sean-Thomas Pumphrey is a co-owner with his wife Lisa, and friend Farris Loutfi. Lickinghole Creek is named after Little Lickinghole Creek, which runs through their large 220 acre property. Upon visiting the brewery, one sees that they have set themselves up much more like a winery than a brewery. They tag themselves as “Virginia’s farm brewery”. With a lot of land, and putting into practice the growing of ingredients that go into their beers, visiting is a different experience than one often gets with the standard brewery situated in an industrial district. One can also notice the similarities to a winery with their marketing, given their use of 750ml bottles and their having an “Estate Series” of beers. Lickinghole Creek now has 6 beers available. This includes their “Short Pump” saison, “Magic Beaver” Belgian-style pale ale, “Gentleman Farmer Estate Hop Ale”, “Three Chopt” tripel, “Three Sheets to the Wind” (which they call an “Extra Smooth Belgian-style Beer”), and their “Pumpkin Ain’t Easy” pumpkin ale.
I spoke some with Sean while we were at the release, who was incredibly grateful for our buying his beer. I’ve never been thanked so genuinely for buying someone’s beer. It was great to chat with him. He talked about their growing hops, barley, and pumpkins on the farm. They used 150 pounds of roasted Sugar Pumpkin flesh in the mashing process. Some pilsner malt and a little wheat were used for the malt base. Interestingly, no spice was used in this beer. But the inclusion of German Tettnang and Hersbrucker hops as well as some Belgian yeast provide quite a strong spice profile for the beer. 30 barrels were available by the end of the brew, which I’m sure won’t last long. Check out Lickinghole Creek if you are near the area! It was a blast.