Ardent “The One” Pumpkin Ale is 8.7% ABV.
I was served a 12 oz goblet from on tap at the brewery.
Appearance: This beer was served without any head at all. Its color is a very clear medium burnt orange/amber. It has a beautiful color. Few bubbles rising suggest mild to moderate carbonation.
Smell: The aroma of this is not incredibly strong, but had great roasted pumpkin, as well as a pleasant spice blend. I noticed cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. This smells sweet, like from gingersnap cookies, brown sugar, and some toasty and caramely malt. I also get some vanilla, making for a great pumpkin pie aroma. There are some minimal hops joining the otherwise sweet pumpkin pie aroma.
Taste: This has a strong sweetness up front along with some roasted pumpkin, though has less pumpkin than the nose suggested. With the first sip, some bitterness moves in quickly, as from the spices. I get a dry kind of white pepper/ginger spice with a little bit of smokiness. This has more of a pronounced bitterness than I was expecting. This beer is certainly very sweet with a hearty malt backbone and flavors of brown sugar and caramel. This finishes with a lot of that bitterness setting in, and just a touch of bright hops. This bitterness hangs out some in the aftertaste, with some extra sugar. This has good flavors, but is very sweet and not as warm or complex as the smell suggested.
Feel: This is medium bodied plus, with mild to moderate carbonation. The sweetness is pretty heavy, and not quite balanced enough for the feel. It is a bit heavy because of all the sugar. The sugar also kind of hangs, as does some of the bitter spicing. The spicing feels more on the sharp and dry side, rather than something warm and complementing. This could use more balance, I think.
Drinkability: This doesn’t bombard with alcohol, probably because of the high sugar content. So it’s 8+% is not so noticeable. Even so, it is sweet enough that I think I wouldn’t want more than 10 or so oz of this.
Overall: This beer does have some nice roasty pumpkin up front, which I like. This quickly gets crowded by the bitterness as from some dry spice. The spicing keeps this from being warm and round. The sweetness definitely puts this in the pumpkin pie style of pumpkin ales, and aids in keeping the bitterness from being the only focal point. For my tastes, this is a bit too sweet, and still lacks the complexity many of the other imperial pumpkin ales have. It does have good flavors, but I’d want more balance. This is a local option worth trying, but not quite a destination pumpkin beer for me.
Overall Rating: **3/4
About Ardent and this offering: Ardent Craft Ales opened in Richmond, Virginia in June 2014. They are located in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood. They are just a stone’s throw away from Isley Brewing, another newer small craft brewery to Richmond. Ardent’s head brewer Kevin O’Leary (not to be confused with the venture capitalist on the popular show Shark Tank) previously worked at Cambridge Brewing Company before he moved to Richmond in 2010. That same year O’Leary joined a co-op with other Ardent co-founders Paul Karms and Tom Sullivan, both of whom had beer beginnings in homebrewing.
Ardent uses roasted pumpkin and other “gourds” in this beer, as well as some classic pumpkin spicing. It sits at 8.7% ABV and has 14 IBU’s. Ardent’s main line of beers also includes a “Virginia Common”- a sessionable ale/lager hybrid, a saison, an IPA, and an american mild ale. You can find their beer on tap in and around Richmond.