Crown Valley “Imperial Pumpkin Smash” Imperial Pumpkin Stout (2013)

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Crown Valley “Imperial Pumpkin Smash” Imperial Pumpkin Stout is 10.6% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a stout glass.

Appearance: A moderate pour produced a quarter inch of thin beige head, which quickly dissipated to leave  a very thin cloud sitting atop this beer. The color of this is a very dark brown/almost black, basically impenetrable to light. I see some small bubbles fizzing at the top, suggesting mild carbonation.

Smell: This has a sweet dark malt aroma, with some great nuances. I get some molasses, candied ginger, sticky toffee, and the dark chocolate and coffee notes of a good sweet stout. I am getting some fruit, like sweet caramelized pumpkin and a little cherry. The malt in this is rich and sweet-smelling. Just a wonderful aroma. I keep going back for more.

Taste: The flavors in this are really powerful. It has a great intense dark malt with some roasty elements, as well as some smokiness, though the smoke doesn’t overpower it. The spices come off as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some dark woody spices. This is dark and luscious. I get coffee, chocolate, toffee, and some nice fruit of roasted squash and light cherry. The flavors mirror the nose really well, and are a little darker and smokier than the nose suggests. I love these flavors, and the balance. There is a bit of alcohol towards the finish, which is dominated by a lingering molasses sweetness and some dark spices. The aftertaste has some roasty and bitter spices hanging around for a while, with a bit of alcohol bite.

Feel: This offering is medium to heavy bodied, with moderate carbonation. The feel has a nice velvety texture, which is interrupted a bit by some slight booziness. Even so, the dark bitter notes of chocolate and coffee work well with the smooth sweetness of molasses, toffee, and fruit. Overall good feel.

Drinkability: This does fairly well on this score, given the style. The booziness detracts some. But for a beer at 10.6%, I would say it does fairly well here. It is so tasty, and the lingering bitterness in the aftertaste invites another sip.

Overall: This was a bit of a sleeper for me this year. I didn’t really know what to expect of this, and was very pleasantly suprised. This had great dark and intense flavors. It has good complexity. The various notes of coffee, chocolate, molasses, toffee, and the fruit of pumpkin and light cherry do really well here. This reminds me a bit of Saint Arnold’s “Pumpkinator”, which I hold in high esteem. This doesn’t quite have the overall silky smooth texture and depth of flavor as Saint Arnold’s. But it is darn good, and I’m so happy I got to try it. I would certainly recommend this one as a must try.

Overall Rating: ****

DSC03758About Crown Valley and Imperial Pumpkin Smash: Crown Valley Brewing and Distilling began in 2008 in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. I’ve also heard that there is a winery that is part of Crown Valley. So a lot of things going on. Their head brewer, Jeremy Gilbert, studied at the Siebel Institute in Germany. So a commitment to it, and a bit of money put in to it. He joined Crown Valley in 2012, and has been making some great beer there  on their 15-barrel system.

Crown Valley’s Imperial Pumpkin Smash is 10.6% ABV and 48 IBU’s.

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