Avery “Rumpkin” Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 18.53% ABV.
I poured some of a 12 oz bottle into a small wine glass.
Appearance: This got a steady and then aggressive-at-the-end pour. This did not produce any lacing, but did kick up a few bubbles. This has a dark auburn red color, with substantial flakes of sediment in it. As I tilt the glass, it has “legs”.
Smell: This beer has a strong and sweet aroma with some notable booziness. I get some banana and dark fruit like cherry and date. This has a very strong syrupy sweetness aroma, as from the dark fruit. There is also some mentionable spicing to it, like from strong clove and some nutmeg, cinnamon, and maybe allspice. Overall, this smells sweet with strong banana and dark fruit and a good bit of booziness. Rich.
Taste: This is certainly very strong. The flavors are also very bold and sweet. I get rum, banana, sweet dark cherry, and notes of date and fig. I do get some pumpkin or squash, though the other strong flavors make it hard to focus on the pumpkin. There is a strong vanilla presence in this, which binds some of the flavors together. The sweetness in this gives off dark fruit, vanilla, and molasses. The spicing in this stronger towards the end, and stronger than I remember this beer having last year. I get clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. And there is of course very strong rum to this with an alcohol bite. This finishes sweet and with strong alcohol, setting up an aftertaste of lingering dark fruit sweetness and sticky rum.
Feel: This is heavy-bodied with minimal carbonation. The strong sugars put this one on the sticky and syrupy side. The spices add a little texture, and the alcohol notes give it a bit of a punch. Alright feel.
Drinkability: This is not so easily drinkable. It is very strong, very sweet, and has alcohol that grabs hold of you. It isn’t as harsh as other higher ABV pumpkin ales I’ve had. But its no easy drinker. This is a sipper, especially given its not so well hidden 18.53% ABV.
Overall: I like how bold and strong the flavors are. I enjoy the banana and dark fruit flavors, as well as the spicing. I find the spicing stronger than I remember from reviewing this beer last year. I think the vanilla is also nice, and stronger than I remember. There is some pumpkin to this, but it doesn’t stand out so well among the other flavors. I don’t like how sweet and sticky this ends up, nor the alcohol which comes through too much at the end. It has more alcohol than I remember. It must be hard to round out a beer this high in alcohol. This could age. In any case, this has good flavors, but isn’t quite a top tier for me. They really upped the price of this beer, going from $10.99 a 12oz retail last year to $14.99 for a 12 oz retail this year. I do not think it is worth the price, but I’ve enjoyed it. It was hard enough to think it worth 11 bucks for a single. At this point, I think it would need some serious improvement to justify that cost. This is also my least favorite rum-aged pumpkin ales. Hardywood made one that was less bold but a much better drinker, and Two Roads made a really enjoyable offering that has been my favorite rum aged offering this year.
Overall Rating: ***3/4
Avery and their rum-barrel aged imperial pumpkin ale: Avery Brewing opened in Boulder, Colorado in 1993. They make some incredible beers, including their “The Beast” Grand Cru and their “Mephistopheles'” Stout, both in their “the Demons of Ale” series. Avery’s “Rumpkin” is part of their “Annual Barrel” series. This year marks the third batch of this beer, which uses Aromatic and Honey malts, as well as a good dose of roasted pumpkin and heavy spicing of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The beer sits for 6 months in fresh dark rum barrels, creating rich and complex beers that vary in ABV (2011 was 15.9%, 2012 18.1%, and this year the biggest yet at 18.53%).