Saucony Creek “Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress” Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 9.5% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: A moderate to heavy pour produced about 3 fingers of light tan head, which dissipated over five minutes, leaving fairly thick lacing on the sides of the glass and just a slight bit of foam lingering on the top. The color of this is a fairly hazy burnt red/amber. This looks to have moderate carbonation.
Smell: Upon smelling this I get great roasty squash and a good spice bill. As for the spices, I get something like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, but I think something else too. There is a kind of brown sugar and caramelized squash sweetness, reminding me more of butternut squash than of pumpkin (similar to the AleWerks Pumpkin Ale). There is also just a bit of vegetal squash in with the otherwise roasted squash aroma. The malt is smooth and sweet, and not as prominent as the roasted gourd and spices. Some mild sour notes and very mild citrus are also noticeable. This smells very sweet, and has an overall very good aroma.
Taste: This is fairly sweet at the outset, with a bit of alcohol noticeable up front. I get some roasted squash, some intense sweetness, and some spices. As for spices, I get allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon (maybe some clove too). The spices are well-done, I think. Maybe a slight bit on the heavy side, but still well done. The sweetness is like brown sugar and caramelized squash, and is almost a little sticky. The malt profile isn’t as prominent, due to the strength in flavor of the caramel-like squash and spices. I get some somewhat bready malt, and again, an alcohol bite. This finishes with some of those real sweet flavors, making way into an aftertaste of hot alcohol.
Feel: This offering is medium to heavy bodied, with moderate carbonation. The alcohol bite is fairly prominent, and detracts in the finish and into the aftertaste. The sweetness and warmth of the squash and spices are nice, but don’t quite make up for the hot alcohol.
Drinkability: This is not the most drinkable. It has bold flavors, and some heavy sweetness to round things out some. Even so, the alcohol does hold this one back. Not so great here.
Overall: Some of the flavors in this are really quite nice. I like the spice blend quite a bit. I like the roasted butternut squash, which adds a nice dimension. I even think the sweetness is alright. It is a bit too dialed-up, but isn’t the stickiest beer I’ve ever had. Nevertheless, I wish they had worked to make a beer like this that is not quite this big, or to barrel age this big beer in order to round it out a bit. It comes off as hot, and not quite ready for market. When I saw maple and pumpkin, I thought I had to try it. I am glad I did, but wish it had better balance.
Overall Rating: **3/4
About Saucony Creek and their offering: Saucony Creek is a very new brewery that just opened in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. They had a successful Kickstarter that was succesfully funded in late April of 2012. And I just began seeing Saucony Creek in Virginia just this fall season, starting with this “Maple Mistress”. I heard that they are working hard to get beers out the door right now. I’m looking forward to learning more abotu them, and what they are up to. As of now, it is difficult to get much info.
Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress is made with butternut squash, maple syrup, and a spice blend they explain as “pirate rum spices”. On the bottle they print a tale of Captain Jack Rackham, whose drunkenness with other pirates left their pirate ship to be defended by two woman that were, according to the lore, “fierce hell cats”. The story has it that the women were later overtaken by the British Navy. As you can see from the picture above, the label has a cartoony sketch of a busty woman, carrying a stack of pancakes. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what the message is there.