Monthly Archives: October 2014

Dogfish Head “Punkin” Pumpkin Ale (2014)


Dogfish Head “Punkin” Pumpkin Ale is 7% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish Head IPA glass.

Appearance: I poured it pretty easy, giving a quarter inch of bright white and creamy foam. This dwindled a little atop the beer, still covering the surface a few minutes later. This has a bright orange/amber color. It has pretty good clarity, is mostly clear, but has some mild haziness and a bit of sediment floating in it. It appears to have very heavy carbonation.

Smell: To start, I get some vegetal pumpkin with some slight sour notes. There is also a nice spice presence, with some nutmeg, cinnamon, and maybe some ginger. The malt is smooth in this. This also has a sweetness to it like light brown sugar, and a little brightness as from some citrusy hops. Mostly vegetal pumpkin with nicely balanced spices.

Taste: I get some vegetal pumpkin up front, followed by the pleasant spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe some clove. Not sure I get ginger on the taste. The spices are nicely balanced with the pumpkin, which brings some bright notes into this beer. This is also a bit richer than an otherwise standard 6ish% ABV pumpkin beer, with a little darker malts. This has some sweetness to it, like light caramel and light brown sugar. As for hops, there is some citrusy hops contributing but not taking the spotlight. The finish is on the dry side, and has some of the bright pumpkin flavor leading into an aftertaste with mild fine-bitterness from the spicing. Good flavors, nicely balanced spices. I remember this being sweeter and richer in the past.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate to heavy carbonation. It has some smooth malt for a base layer, and the pumpkin and spices adding some complexity. There is a kind of mild alcohol bite with this towards the end. Otherwise I’d say the feel is fine. The spices are nicely dosed in this, and contribute to a decent feel.

Drinkability: This does pretty well here. The mild alcohol bite, along with the slight sour tones form the pumpkin keep this from going down lile water. But eh smooth malt and nicely balanced spices really help. This doesn’t drag.

Overall: I used to like this a lot more. Not sure if this is best explained by my palate changing, or by the beer. Probably some combination. I remember the malt profile being differt, richer, and more robust. This feels a bit on the thin side. I also don’t really remember a notable alcohol bite. But in any case, this is a decent offering in terms of a good spice presence and some consistent pumpkin. Even so, it is not a standout for me. They have obviously re-branded it, with a new image, which I think is really fun and playful. But  I’d rather drink a few other DFH offerings above this. They are a great brewery.

Overall Rating: **1/2

DSC03797About Dogfish Head and this offering: Dogfish Head is a brewery located in Milton, Delaware. My partner and I head there every year or two to do a tour and see the great facility. It is really a blast, and is fun to see how it grows.

Last year I wrote more about Dogfish Head and their pumpkin offering in my 2013 review of “Punkin”.

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Beach “Jolly Roger” Pumpkin Porter (2014)

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Beach “Jolly Roger” Pumpkin Porter is 6.5% ABV.

I poured some of a 32 oz growler into a porter glass.

Appearance: An easy pour from the growler tossed up very little light brown head, which was gone pretty quickly. The color is a dark reddish-brown, with some light coming through it. It looks to have moderate plus carbonation.

Smell: I get strong roast and smoke. This gives off smooth dark malt, and very little by way of hops. I get a little bit of dull spice to it, but nothing that advertises itself so clearly. There is some vegetal pumpkin, though it isn’t so strong. As for sweetness, maybe a touch of molasses. This doesn’t smell all that sweet. Not a whole lot of complexity in the aroma, but a good bit of smoke.

Taste: This has more complexity in flavor than it does in smell. I get roasted and smokey pumpkin, with some vegetal notes. There is also some dark and fairly smooth malt, with good roastiness there too. I’m getting some spice, a little earthy woody spice coming in more towards the end. This does have some restrained molasses sweetness to it. There are noticeable bittering hops, adding good balance. This finishes with the roastiness giving way to some of that spice and some lingering smoke in the aftertaste. Some vegetal tones also linger a bit in the aftertaste. Pretty good flavors, a good bit of smoke, and some present pumpkin.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate to heavy carbonation. The feel has some complexity, with the smooth malt interrupted by the smoke and the roastiness. It is thinner than I was expecting from pouring it, and thinner than I’d expect in a fall porter. The smoke and spicy bitterness does linger a bit. OK feel.

Drinkability: The body is not too heavy, which helps out here. It doesn’t have an alcohol bite. It also doesn’t weigh you down with a lot of sugar, like a lot of other pumpkin porters. The smoke does hang and makes this not drink so smoothly. So this does OK here.

Overall: I like this beer. I like that it is not overly sweet, and that there is good roast and something a bit different than a pumpkin pie style pumpkin porter. I enjoy the hops presence, which I think is just right. I don’t enjoy the (I think) overdone smoke. Perhaps many people will not be bothered by this much smoke. For my tastes, it is more than I’d like. But again, I still enjoy it. This beer isn’t as complex as some other pumpkin porters I’ve had, and is surely not as porter-like in body as some of those others. So I’d think that this is an interesting alternative, but not a destination beer for me. If I were in VA beach looking for a local pumpkin offering that is on the dark side, I’d probably rather go for Back Bay’s “Witch of Pungo”.

Overall Rating: **1/2

photo 3 (2)About Beach Brewing and their offering: Beach Brewing is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They have been around for a few years, producing some really enjoyable beets. Among my favorites is their “Hoptopus” double IPA, and their “Seadevil” imperial stout.

This beer was picked up in growler form from the brewery. They smoke the pumpkins themselves for this beer, and end up releasing it a bit later than a lot of the “early creep” pumpkin beers that hit market.

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Terrapin Imperial “Pumpkin Pie” Porter (2014)

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Terrapin Imperial “Pumpkin Pie” Porter is 9.2% ABV.

I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a porter glass.

Appearance: An easy and hard-at-the-end pour tossed up a half-finger of light brown head, which dissipated over a few minutes to leave a thin ring and the thinnest remnant of foam atop the beer. This has a very dark brown/black color, letting no light through. Bubbles rising at the surface suggest mild to moderate carbonation.

Smell: I get nice vegetal squash, quickly followed by a warm and notable spice blend. For spices I think I get heavy nutmeg and some cinnamon. The malt has great roasty elements, and even some slight smoke to it. This also smells pretty sweet, with some dark fruit like plum. I also get some dark sugar and molasses. Great aroma. Looking forward to tasting it.

Taste: As I first taste more roasty and somewhat smokey pumpkin. This is not as sweet as I was expecting, at least up front. There is definite strong roastiness and some smokiness. The spices aren’t so clear coming through on the palate. As for malt, I get nice roast, and a bit of dark coffee-like bitterness. There is some pumpkin around the edges, with some dark fruit towards the finish. Very little by way of hops.  As in the smell, I get dark sugar and molasses. This finishes with the dark roast and the coffee-like bitterness fading into an aftertaste of smoke and mild undescript spice. Very mild notice of alcohol. Good flavors, heavy on the roast and smoke. The pumpkin isn’t so strong, like many of the pumpkin porter/stout offerings.

Feel: This is medium to heavy bodied, with moderate carbonation. The feel is pretty good, no heavy lingering sugar, and a good amount of roast to add some complexity to the otherwise smooth and forthright malt. The roast and mild smoke in the aftertaste is mostly pleasant, and not a major detractor for me. So, pretty good feel.

Drinkability: For something of 9+%, this does pretty darn well. You don’t get much of an alcohol bite, and you also don’t get overwhelmed with sugar. So this has a good balance there, and drinks pretty well. It is a rich beer, with strong roasty flavors, and so isn’t a paradigm drinkable beer. Even so, for its style, it does pretty well here.

Overall: I like the roast and the slight smoke in this. I also enjoy the balance of sweetness, and the mostly hidden alcohol. I would not describe this as pumpkin pie, for a few reasons. It doesn’t have strong pumpkin, nor does it have a kind of sweetness that you get with pie. This is more of a roasty and slightly smokey strong porter, with some hints of pumpkin. The more I drink it, the less pumpkin I get too. As a pumpkin porter, OK. As a bigger porter, I like it. This was pretty hard to get, and went real fast. The wax also gives it a kind of prestige, which likely contributed to that. I don’t think it lives up to all that.

Overall Rating: **3/4

photo 4About Terrapin and Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter: Terrapin is out of Athens Georgia, having started there in 2002. Yesterday I reviewed their “Pumpkinfest”.

This Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter was something of a limited offering. I think I might have actually come across the last bottle in the state of Virginia. This is also the first year Terrapin has made it. It joined their reserve series of small batch, wax-dipped 22’s, following in the footsteps of “White Chocolate Moo Hoo” and “Cinnamon Roll’d Wake-n-Bake”. This malt bill of this beer has 2-Row Pale, Wheat & Chocolate Wheat, Crystal 85 & 120, Black Malt, and Chocolate Malt. It has added pumpkin and a spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Columbus and U.S. Golding Hops take this to 35 IBU’s.

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Terrapin “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer (2014)


Terrapin “Pumpkinfest” Pumpkin Beer is 6.1% ABV.

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

Appearance: My pour was not so gentle, and it tossed up less than a finger of off-white head. This didn’t last long, and dwindled to leave no lacing and just a thin ring around the sides of the glass. This has a very bright and beautiful orange/amber, with moderate haziness. The bubbles in it suggest moderate to heavy carbonation.

Smell: I get a nice spice profile, set against some vegetal pumpkin and some somewhat toasty malt. The spices are warm, and give off ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This also has some caramel to it, and some hops that are sort of lemony. Nice spice which complements the other aromas. Fresh.

Taste: This has good vegetal pumpkin, with just some slight sourish tones. The squash and sourish tones are nicely balanced in fact, and don’t have the deep sourness a lot of vegetal-y pumpkin offerings have. This also has a warm blend of spices- I think ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Behind this there is a smooth base layer of sweet but not overly sweet caramely malt, with a little toastiness and some bread. And then you get some bright hops, with a mild lemony character. This finishes dryer, with some of that hops presence fading into some slightly bitter and peppery spice with a bit of lemon on the tongue. No one flavor dimension takes over, and nothing is distracting. It has really great balance. Fresh, bright, enjoyable.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied, with moderate carbonation plus. It has a smoothness to it that is pleasantly interrupted by some spice, some mildly sour squash, and some hops. Really fresh, and dryer than I was expecting.

Drinkability: This drinks really well for a pumpkin offering that has notable spice. I like all of the flavors, and the freshness of it. The only thing that holds back the drinkability is some of the sourness and lemon which lingers. Even so, this does really well here.

Overall: I have enjoyed this beer for years. I most always want to revisit it, as I think it is just a solid offering that has stayed solid. This year is no different for me. Good pumpkin, good spice, nice balance, and a very pleasant drink. For those looking for a good balance in a vegetal pumpkin offering, this is one of the best. It is also a fun brew as it combines some of the oktoberfest style with a pumpkin ale. So it doesn’t blend in so easily with the many pumpkin offerings out there. It shares the same name with a VA offering I previously reviewed this year, St George’s “Pumpkinfest”. This year, Terrapin’s takes it.

Overall Rating: ***

DSC03789About Terrapin and “Pumpkinfest”: Terrapin Beer Co is located in Athens, Georgia. They have been brewing beer there since 2002. One of my favorites is their “Wake ‘N’ Bake” Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. I wrote more about them and this beer in my 2013 review of Terrapin’s “Pumpkinfest”.

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Anderson Valley “Pinchy Jeek Barl” Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale (2014)


Anderson Valley “Pinchy Jeek Barl” Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale is 7% ABV.

I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a porter glass.

Appearance: I poured it pretty easy, which gave a little light brown creamyish head, which was fairly thin, and gone pretty quickly. This left a thin ring around sides of glass. The color is a medium-dark brown, moderately cloudy, and blocking some light. This looks to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: At the outset I get buttered popcorn, butterscotch sweetness, and caramel. This is very candyish, with not much of a hop profile. I maybe get a little fruitiness, and some brown sugar. There is a little spice, with (I think) cinnamon, and some light bourbon. The aroma is mostly butterscotch, buttered pop corn, and a little bourbon. The aroma smells very malty, sweet, kind of sickeningly sweet. I’m nervous this is going to be too sweet.

Taste: This is not as sweet as I was expecting, which is good. I get some malty sweetness of caramel corn and brown sugar,as well as something kind of like marshmallow. There is some roastiness to the malt, adding a nice dimension to the flavors. I get some spice, but it really blends in among the very sweet malt and the bourbon notes. The bourbon is pretty round, with just a few unkempt edges. There is a little bit of vegetal squash, but it is not so pronounced. There are basically no hops present in this. This finishes with the sweetness fading into a dryer finish, and some more definite bourbon popping through a bit. The sweet malt and buttery popcorn flavor continues in the aftertaste. This has some diacetyl hanging out, and a few sourish notes. I’d say it has OK flavors, but is not so balanced. I wish there were more pumpkin.

Feel: This is medium bodied plus, with light to moderate carbonation. It is sweet, and ends up a bit heavy on the palate. The heavy sugar at the outset is sort of coarse,and returns a bit after the sip is over. The more I sip this, the more the sugar is harder to work with. Some more spice and hops could balance this out a bit . The dryer finish is good. So the feel has some different parts to it, but is still too heavy for me.

Drinkability: This is OK but not great here. There is something coarse with the sugar. The bourbon is round enough, but this buttered popcorn and sweet trend in this hangs, and stays on my palate.

Overall: The more I drink this, the more the sugar hits me. There is not enough pumpkin in this, and the spice profile doesn’t really come out. It has a whole lot of that buttered popcorn and sweet marshmallow-like sweetness. So, something like diacetyl. For me, it is a bit much. I like the dry finish and the bourbon having a presence but not taking over. But I could go for a lot more pumpkin, and some hops to balance this out a bit more. I wouldn’t recommend this, especially given the higher price. This was about 12 dollars at a competitively priced beer store. I would recommend Anderson Valley’s 2014 “Fall Hornin'”, which I reviewed a few days ago

Overall Rating: *3/4

DSC03786Anderson Valley and this offering: I recently wrote about Anderson Valley, with my 2014 review of their “Fall Hornin'”.

“Pinchy Jeek Barl” is part of Anderson Valley’s “Barl Series” of beers, beers aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. For this beer, Anderson Valley uses Pale Two-Row, Munich, Maris Otter, Crystal 120L, and Dark Chocolate malts, as well as some pumpkin puree. Bravo hops takes this to 20 IBU’s, and the beer  sits in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels for 6 months. Other “Barl Series” beers include a stout, and imperial stout- “Huge Arker”, and an amber ale.


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Anderson Valley “Fall Hornin'” Pumpkin Ale (2014)


Anderson Valley “Fall Hornin'” Pumpkin Ale is 6% ABV.

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

Appearance: An easy pour gave over a finger of light tan head, which had a creamy texture and some substance to it. This left some lacing on the sides of the glass, and settled into a thin layer of foam atop the beer. The color of this is a beautiful dark red/amber, with good clarity and just a bit of haze. From watching bubbles at the surface of the beer, this looks to have mild carbonation.

Smell: Right at first I get strong vegetal pumpkin with some definite sour notes. Following this is some milder spicing with some earthiness. It has something like clove, bark, and some ginger and cinnamon. The sour notes are certainly present throughout. I get some toasty malt, as well as some sweetness of burnt sugar. This also has something like a marshmallow sugariness to it. Nice aroma.

Taste: This does start out with that vegetal pumpkin, which is joined by some nice wood-like spicing. The spices add a warmth, and I get clove, nutmeg, and something nutty and earthy. The spices work nicely along with the vegetal and astringent pumpkin in this. There is also a good malt presence, with some toastiness, and a nice base layer of mild sweeteness. I get a little hops presence in this. As in the aroma, there is something like burnt sugar, like the top of a crème brûlée fired with a heavy hand. This sugar is nice and works well with the earthy spices. This finishes with that sweetness giving way to the woody spices, which linger along with a bit of vegetal pumpkin in the aftertaste. Good flavors.

Feel: This is light to medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. It has a smooth and creamy feel, which is very pleasant. The spices add a bit more complexity to this otherwise totally smooth beer. Great here.

Drinkability: I’d say this is pretty drinkable. After a while, the earth from the spices hangs a bit. But even so, the smooth feel and the restrained sweetness help this to drink well. For a pumpkin beer with definite flavor, it does very well here.

Overall: I like this beer. I like the vegetal pumpkin alongside the warm and woody spices. I really like the feel, how creamy and smooth the beer is. So this is certainly a good choice, especially for those that want something that drinks well with something of a good but not overdone spice presence. The pumpkin in this gets a little lost for my tastes. And I also think that the dark spicing becomes more univocal the further into this beer I get. But again, the flavors are good, and this works well as a darker and still not too heavy pumpkin offering. I say good and worth trying.

Overall Rating: ***

DSC03781About Anderson Valley and their “Fall Hornin'”: Anderson Valley is located in Boonville, California. I wrote more about them and this beer, which was first on the market last year, in my 2013 review of “Fall Hornin'”. This year Anderson Valley has a new bourbon pumpkin offering, which I’m looking forward to reviewing in just a few days.

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Blue Mountain Barrel House “Spooky” Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2014)

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Blue Mountain Barrel House “Spooky” Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.2% ABV.

I poured some of a 750 ml bottle into a stout glass.

Appearance: My pour was careful at first, and had a heavier hand at the end. This produced about two fingers of frothy and thick egg-shell-colored head. This clung to the sides of the glass and left some definite lacing, while settling in to a notable cloud still atop the beer. This has a medium to dark burnt orange/amber, with good clarity and just a slight haze to it. It looks to have moderate carbonation.

Smell: Smelling this immediately gives me rich bourbon, along with some vegetal pumpkin behind it. There is a nice richness in smell, created also by the addition of some warm spiciness that blends in and doesn’t advertise itself so clearly or heavily. I get a little earthy yeast, and some mild bright hops. Nice bourbon-heavy aroma. It doesn’t smell harsh, and in fact smells round. I am very eager to take my first sip.

Taste: I get bourbon at the outset, along with some nice vegetal pumpkin. There is something warm to this one, in part because of the bourbon. The pumpkin adds a nice contrast, with a little astringency. Some fairly tame complementary spice adds more complexity. It is almost like nutmeg. More noticeable is that the bourbon and pumpkin are paired so well together. This is rich, and has some earthiness. It is not overly sweet, which is a little surprising. The malt is smooth and restrained with respect to the sweetness it contributes. I get some yeast with pleasant bitterness, along with some very tame hops to give a hint of brightness towards the end. The hops have a floral character to them, some mild perfume, and are balanced very well against the otherwise malty pumpkin offering. This finishes dry, with the hops and earthy yeast. The aftertaste has some restrained bitterness, a hint of hops, and warm bourbon. Great flavors in this one.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate plus carbonation. It has a nice warmth from the bourbon, is somewhat round, and doesn’t come off as too aggressive. The astringent pumpkin and floral hops add some nice complexity to the feel, allowing it to be dynamic and interesting. There is a mild alcohol bite, especially towards the end of the sip. Otherwise good feel.

Drinkability: For a bold bourbon aged imperial pumpkin offering, this does alright. This is strong, and not the sort of thing one thinks of if considering sessionable beers. For what it is, I say it drinks well. There is some mild bitterness hanging on my palate, but nothing too distracting. Decent here.

Overall: This beer has great flavors, nice complexity, and a good pumpkin presence. It has great warmth from the bourbon, and nice restrained sweetness. The more I sip this, the more the bourbon settles in. I really like the roundness that is achieved here. I also like the balance of hops, and the nutty character that contributes but doesn’t overwhelm. Overall the flavors are warm and rich, and many things I’d want a pumpkin beer to be. The bourbon is strong, and maybe a bit stronger than I’d ideally want. Even so, this is still a really successful offering. This just came out last year, and has quickly become one of my favorite VA pumpkin beers.

Overall Rating: ****

photo 2 (1)About Blue Mountain Barrel House and “Spooky”: Blue Mountain Barrel House is located in Arrington, Virginia. They are something like an outpost brewery location for Blue Mountain in Afton, Virginia. They brew a number of barrel-aged beers under the “Barrel House” name, but also produce some Blue Mountain mainstays. Blue Mountain Barrel House makes some great beer, with one of my favorites being their “Dark Hollow”.  I also really enjoy this “Spooky”. This bottle notes that “Spooky” is made with cocoa nibs and pumpkin flavor. I think the cocoa nibs are what I was thinking of as like nutmeg. In any case, I wrote more about this brewery and this delicious beer in my 2013 review of “Spooky”.

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