Tag Archives: Alaska beer

Midnight Sun “TREAT” Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter (2014)

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Midnight Sun “TREAT” Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter is 7.8% ABV.

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

Appearance: A slightly splashy pour gave about two fingers of light brown and frothy head. This had decent retention and dissipated some to leave fairly thick lacing and still some thin foam atop the beer. This has a very dark brown/black color, with no real light getting through. Doesn’t look murky, just dark. Tiny bubbles rising along the sides of the glass suggest mild to moderate carbonation.

Smell: This has a nice smell, real rich. I get strong chocolate, almost like Hershey’s chocolate syrup, along with some vegetal pumpkin, great smooth roast, and a warm blend of spices. For spices I get cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe some allspice. This also has some sweet brown sugar to it. Not much by way of hops. Absolutely top notch aroma, save for the slight suggestion that this might be really sweet. Now I taste and find out.

Taste: This starts strong with great and smooth dark roast, building with some nice cocoa- more cocoa /dark chocolate than milk chocolate- as well as some vegetal pumpkin. This is really quite rich. The malt is dark and very sweet, lots of chocolate and some coffee. A little vanilla. As for spices, the roast really makes it hard to discern what is part of the spice bill. I do get a spice presence, as from clear cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg. The vegetal pumpkin has a pleasant sour note that adds complexity to the otherwise sweet and roasty offering. Some non-descript hops are adding some balance, good for a porter. This finishes with the brighter vegetal pumpkin pulling away a bit to accent more of the chocolate and dark roast. The finish is almost like cola. The aftertaste has some strong lingering roast, as well as a little coffee-like bitterness. Really good flavors, very strong chocolate, nice pumpkin presence.

Feel: I’d say this is on the lighter end of heavy bodied. Given how strong the flavors are, I’m surprised this isn’t really heavy on the palate, or cloyingly sweet.The dark roast is nicely balanced against vegetal pumpkin notes and sweet chocolate, and enough hops for balance. It also seems like there might be some lactose in it, in terms of feel. A little creaminess. So I’d say really pleasant feel here, save for some strong roast that just won’t depart after the sip, which could detract for some.

Drinkability: This drinks really well. The sweetness really helps it out here, and the fact that it tastes like dessert. One thing holding it back is the strong dark roast, which does stick around a while on the palate. The sweetness, though making it smooth to drink, may also hold one back from having much more than 10 oz of this. So I’d say this is fine for the style- an imperial roasty porter in the pumpkin pie style.

Overall: I’ve known about this beer for a few years. Finally I get a chance to try it. Thanks to CraftShack.com, a craft beer site out of California, I can count on getting some of the Pacific Northwest (and above) beers. In any case, this beer is pretty good. I like all of the flavors, which are quite rich and strong. The chocolate you can’t miss, and it is joined by some unbridled roastiness, The pumpkin is present throughout this beer, but could have more of the stage. The pumpkin isn’t as central as offerings like the Alaskan Pumpkin Porter, in the same state as Midnight Sun. I also think the spices are nicely balanced. This beer runs for about 14.50 per 22oz. So it is a little on the pricey side, I think, especially for something under 8%, and for the quality. But it really is a nice rich offering, with pretty good pumpkin. It is definitely a beer for dessert. If you like strong roasty porters, or sweet malty beers, especially with chocolate notes, this could be a good pick. The more I drink it the more I would want a little more pumpkin and a little less roast. The roast gets a little overpowering. In any case, this is certainly enjoyable among the pumpkin porter’s I’ve had, but doesn’t quite accomplish all that Alaskan’s Pumpkin Porter does.

Overall Rating: ***3/4

photo 4 (3)About Midnight Sun and their offering: Midnight Sun Brewing is located in Anchorage, Alaska.

To make this beer they use pumpkin, cocoa nibs, and a blend of spices. It is then aged in oak.

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Alaskan Pumpkin Porter (2013)

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Alaskan Pumpkin Porter is 7.0% ABV.

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

Appearance: After a steady pour, I got a finger or so of thinnish light brown head which dissipated over the course of a few minutes. This has a dark brown color mostly impenetrable by light. This appears to have carbonation on the light side.

Smell: This smells sweet, roasty, and lovely. There is some dark roast, some notable vegetable pumpkin, and some sweetness and spices. The sweetness has some definite brown sugar to it, while the spices I get are cinnamon and clove. This smells like it will have a lot of flavor, and will be rich. I also get some vanilla-sweetness which pairs great with the dark and roasty malt. Just a great and somewhat sweet aroma. It is so nice to be able to taste this for the first time. I’ve been looking at this in my fridge for too long without tasting it.

Taste: This has just wonderful flavor. It has great strong pumpkin that is mostly vegetal, but also has some roasty tones. The dark, smokey, and roasty malt flavors are there, but don’t overtake the palate. The spices and sweetness are well balanced. The spice I am getting is cinnamon and clove, and some definite brown sugar. I am also getting some smooth vanilla. What is really impressive about this is that it has the roast of a porter, a nice spice profile, and great pumpkin flavor. This has more pumpkin flavor than any other pumpkin porter or pumpkin stout I’ve ever had. It is wonderful. This finishes to let some more of the fruit of the pumpkin shine through. The aftertaste has some of the roast and spices and a bit of the vegetal pumpkin flesh hanging on for a good bit. Just great flavors.

Feel: This is medium bodied,with light carbonation. The feel is lighter than I was expecting. It is smooth and has some roast that gives it some texture. The bit of brown sugar also adds some texture to the feel. Finally there is some warmth from the pumpkin pie spices. So, good marks here.

Drinkability: This is quite good here. It is smooth and velvety, with nothing too coarse or caustic on the palate. The sweetness is also not too pronounced or overpowering. The alcohol is also tame. This is very smooth and easy to put a dent in without realizing it. Great marks here.

Overall: This is the best pumpkin porter that I’ve had, and has more pumpkin flavor than any darker pumpkin beer I’ve ever tasted. The flavors are all good, and nicely balanced. I love the powerful vegetal pumpkin. I also like how the dark and roasty malts pair with the pumpkin and the other spices. This beer has a whole lot going for it. I am a big fan, and would certainly get some more of this for myself or for a seasonal tasting with friends. I wish it was easier for me to get! It is a must-try, especially for those folks that love pumpkin in their pumpkin beers.

Overall Rating: ****

image (10)Alaskan Brewing Company and their Pumpkin Porter: Alaskan Brewing Company was founded in 1986 by Marcy and Geoff Larson, who were then in their 20’s! This was the first brewery in Juneau since Prohibition. Marcy and Goeff aimed to make beers that were inspired by and similar to some of the beers made during the Gold Rush Era, where beer had a central role in the lifestyle. Geoff was a chemical engineer as well as a homebrewer. His wife Marcy was an accountant and adventurous pilot. When doing research about the beer history of Alaska, Marcy discovered some records from the Douglas City Brewing Company, which existed from 1899-1907. These records detailed ingredients for its historically popular brews, and included a newspaper article that had information about how their beer was brewed. Geoff brewed a batch of this beer at home.This beer would later become Alaskan Amber. Alaskan Brewing now distributes to 14 states, and is among the most decorated winners at the Great American Beer Fest. They have won over 100 major medals across the big beer competitions, where over half of these are golds. One of their most popular beers, which I really hope to try some day, is their Alaskan Smoked Porter. This beer has won many medals. At the Great American Beer Festival alone, it has won 6 gold, 6 sliver, and 6 bronze medals since 1990. This beer brought a real gold rush for them between the years of 1991 and 1995.


The Alaskan Pumpkin Porter is part of their pilot series of limited edition specialty ales. Being brewed in Juneau, it can be a serious challenge to brew real ales. But they’ve done it, and done it well. They use over 11 pounds of Red Hubbard pumpkins per barrel for this delicious pumpkin treat! The water is  glacier-fed, and soaks up a big grain bill. 6 different malts are used, including the Alaskan alder-smoked malt. For more of the pumpkin pie flavors, they throw in brown sugar and a spice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  Magnum and Goldings hops takes this to 25 IBU’s.

I spoke with Andy Kline from Alaskan Brewing, who was quite generous. Everyone else I talked to along the way was also so helpful with this project. My girlfriend often jokes that great breweries are how she gets me to travel. Bankrolling this trip might be  a bit more difficult, at least right now! If you get the chance to grab this beer, grab a couple. The beautiful label shows a pickup carrying some giant pumpkin. This is a reference to the Alaska State Fair, known for growing some of the worlds largest vegetables, including pumpkins weighing in at over 1200 lbs. Hey, Alaska is massive! And Alaskan Brewing has massively good beer.

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