Schlafly Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2014)

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Schlafly Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.0% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer glass”.

Appearance: The pour was easy at first, but had a bit of gusto at the end. This gave about a finger of almost gray off-white foam, which was gone after about a minute and left just a thin ring of foam around the edges of the glass. This has a mostly very clear medium burnt orange/amber color. Very nice looking color. Bubbles rising suggest moderate carbonation.

Smell: This has a clear roasty pumpkin aroma that is joined by some vegetal notes, and then a warm and inviting spice presence. For spicing I get good nutmeg, as well as some cinnamon and ginger. I think I get some allspice too. This has a strong and sweet malt aroma, as from some caramel malt with something like dark caramelized brown sugar. Not much of a hop aroma. The pumpkin and spices really come through. Great aroma.

Taste: This starts out with some roasty pumpkin and spices. The pumpkin flavor has both roasty and vegetal dimensions, but hangs more on the roasty side. The spices come through as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. I also get a metallic-like taste towards the front, which dies down a bit as I have more sips. There is also a heavy sweetness with this one, like from a hint of dark cherry and some brown sugar. This does give off a bit of yeast and something like mild white pepper, especially towards the end. Not much by way of hops, save for a hint of citrus that hits towards the middle. This finishes with the sweetness of the brown sugar and slight cherry making way into a bit of bitterness from the pumpkin pie spices, something like white pepper, and very mild citrus. The aftertaste has some of the lingering brown sugar sweetness, and a slight metallic tinge. Overall the flavors in this are really inviting.

Feel: This is medium bodied plus, with moderate carbonation. The strong sweetness makes this pretty smooth, but doesn’t weigh one down too much. The metallic hint in this does interrupt the otherwise velvety feel of this.

Drinkability: I’d say this is really quite drinkable. For a beer of 8%, it drinks really well. The warm spicing does well working with the sugars in this to make it pretty drinkable. The metallic tinge that I get here and there does detract a bit.

Overall: This is not the first time I’ve had this beer. I always look forward to trying this one. I got a bottle of this in late July, and have stored it in my refrigerator until now. This is certainly a great beer. But the metallic aspects to it are detracting a little for me. I wonder if this batch was just slightly off for some production reason. I am getting the metal a bit in the aftertaste too. I bought the beer at a reputable store, where it was stored at good temps, and I never let it warm up. So I’m not sure what could be going on. In any case, this is certainly an enjoyable beer, just not absolute top of the pack quality. I’m gonna try to taste another bottle (or have it on tap) at some point this season to see whether this could be just a batch thing. But, in any case, I will have absolutely no trouble working my way through my 6-pack this season. If you haven’t tried this beer, you really should. Even with some slight non-ideal flavor notes, I am really enjoying it.

Overall Rating: ****

image (4)About Schlafly and their pumpkin offering: Schlafly beers are produced by The St. Louis Brewery, founded in ’91 in St. Louis, Missouri. Last season I wrote more about Schlafly and their pumpkin offering in my 2013 review. I’m hoping to visit sometime in the next couple years.

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