AleWerks Pumpkin Ale is 7.3% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer glass”.
Appearance: Being gentle with the pour gave me less than a finger of off-white head which was gone very quickly, leaving no real lacing and not much of a trace of the head. The color is a very clear rich burnt orange/amber. TIny bubbles rising towards the surface suggest moderate carbonation.
Smell: This smells warm with nice roasted squash, sweet brown sugar, and a great spice blend. I get compexity in the nose right up front. As for spices, I’m getting nutmeg, ginger, clove, and cinnamon. This is complemented by a rich malty aroma with caramel as well as some brown sugar. I also get a slight yeastiness to this, and just a touch of brightness from the hops. Great pumpkin pie aroma.
Taste: This has very warm, rich, and round flavors from the very beginning. I get some of the best roasted squash in a pumpkin ale I’ve ever had, along with a great warm blend of spices. As in the nose, I think I get ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. The spicing is just perfect. This also has a solid malt backbone that is certainly on the sweet side. For sweetness I get caramel, brown sugar, and something resembling toffee. Towards the end this exerts a bit more fine-particulate bitterness, adding some more complexity to the taste, and leading into an aftertaste that has a touch of lemon, as from the hops. Some bitterness does linger a bit in the aftertaste as well. Absolutely wonderful flavors, with great roasted squash.
Feel: This is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Though this has a fairly strong malt backbone, the spices and the light bitterness really keep it restrained and balanced. This doesn’t come across as too sweet or heavy at all. The feel is warm, and round, and exactly what I’d want in a pumpkin ale.
Drinkability: This also drinks really well. It is over 7% ABV, and doesn’t really advertise that in the beer. It would be fairly easy to drink a few of these. Its strong flavors don’t weigh you down, as one might expect. I’d say, for its strong flavors and higher ABV, it drinks very well.
Overall: If you have the opportunity to try this beer, you should take it. So I say, anyway. This seems to me a clear exemplar in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales. It is rich, warm, and has great spicing and a great roasty squash flavor. And on top of it all, it is balanced and doesn’t weigh you down. I have very little criticism of this beer. One thing I would say is that it does have kind of a slightly acrid residue of bitterness and mild sour notes in the aftertaste. But that is not all that pronounced. I think this is the best pumpkin beer in the state of Virginia, and a great competitor as a top pumpkin ale even outside of the state. I’ve reviewed this beer every year since I started this blog. I wouldn’t miss it.
Overall Rating: ****1/2
About AleWerks and their pumpkin ale: AleWerks (formerly, Williamsburg Alewerks) is a craft brewery located in Williamsburg, Virginia. They opened in 2006, and have been producing a number of very seriously sought after beers in the state, including their Bitter Valentine, Café Royale, and one of my favorite VA beers, their Bourbon Barrel Porter. Having recently finished their new tap room, it is a great place to visit if you find yourself with extra time travelling between Richmond and Hampton Roads. See my 2013 review of Alewerks’ Pumpkin Ale for more about them and how they make their pumpkin ale.