Pumpkin Roll Ale – Penn Brewing (Pennsylvania Brewing Co.)

Pumpkin Roll

 

Lets clear one thing up before I get accosted with a pitchfork and torches by my mother in law. We were all raised in the south, and most of us have never eaten, or frankly, heard of Pumpkin Roll before (Except for Tim, because Tim has literally eaten anything you have ever heard of, except maybe a Century Egg). It is not much like pumpkin pie as it centers around a cream cheese frosting. So there is a decent chance that if you are a fan of Pumpkin Roll, you may disagree with our initial reaction to the beer before the dessert. That said, the dessert sounds fantastic, and we’ve included a video below to teach you how to make it yourself.

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Name: Pumpkin Roll Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Pittsburgh, PA / Pennslvania Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 6.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Pumpkin Roll Ale is modeled after the popular Northern U.S.A. dessert and includes real pumpkin puree, lactose sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.

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Packaging:

The tradition of pumpkin orange and green adds a nice rustic background to a red barn in the fall with a pumpkin patch and bales of wheat, it reminds me of the barn raising scene in Witness if there was drinking involved. – Tim

A green and gold harlequin border over a bright orange field with folksy fall accoutrement, including a pumpkin patch, barn, and corn stalks a plenty. Looks like a Quaker fall to me! A suitable homage to their home state founder, William Penn. – Mike

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Color: 5.5

The appearance is slightly hazy with just a trickle of bubbles, thin dissipating head, with the sticky lacing glowing yellow-orange. -Brittney

I find this to be your typical copper colored pumpkin ale color, but with a cloudy twist. Light and semi transparent, it appears to be medium bodied with a frothy white head. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 5.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 6

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Aroma: 5

The aroma on this one is fairly vegetal, with a sweet and sour twist. The sourness I am assuming comes from the cream cheese aspect of the pumpkin roll. – Brittney

Kids bubblegum toothpaste and the icing packet that comes in a pack of prefab cinnamon buns with a green grape and yogurt smoothie to wash it all down. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 5 / B- 5 / R- 7

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Mouth feel: 5.5

Medium bodied, the ale is smooth on the palate, but a notable burn on the tongue and the in the back of the throat could be tamed by bringing the carbonation level a little further into check. – Tim

There’s a bit of a bite on the palate. It’s light though which makes it an easy drinker, while being capped by a nice sourness to finish it all off. – Rick

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 5.5 / R- 5

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Tasting notes: 4.5

Birthday cake with cream cheese icing and lots of vanilla. A pecan nuttiness is trying to poke through, but pumpkin and powdered sugar are ruling the dat. I’ve never had pumpkin roll myself, but if this is accurate, it must destroy any notion of a diet. – Mike

For the uninitiated, a pumpkin roll is essentially pumpkin spiced cake wrapped around a pinwheel of cream cheese frosting. It’s insanely decadent, and the ones I have from Amish bakery’s are mind-blowingly addictive. This ale is for all intents and purposes trying its best to recreate that in liquid format, but it’s hang up is a primary character of Cool Whip that is so prevalent that I feel like my tongue is coated in wax after every sip. The spice notes are the same as the nose, with allspice and nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla prominent. It’s all very strange but not entirely unappealing. Lets just say a little bit goes a long way. – Tim

Big dollops of candy wax, creamy vanilla, butter, and cream cheese. It’s slighty sour with a good bit of spice poking through the end, like a bowl of milk after you ate all the cinnamon cereal. There’s not a lot of pumpkin in there though. – Brittney

Very unique and interesting. Lots of different flavors combining to mimic an almost artificial cream cheese flavor. Raisins and grapes stand out, and if cinnamon whipped cream hasn’t been created yet, it should be. All these elements are united by a slight pumpkin flavor. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 3.5 / R- 5.5

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Finish: 4.5

There is a mace like quality to this finish with a raisin aftertaste. Very clean and nicely juxtaposed with the fruity sweet profile. It is a tad on the bitter side though, and a little too harsh with the cinnamon. – Rick

Buttery, confectioners sugar, allspice, and intense amounts of dry hopped cream cheese. It’s bittersweet both in form and function. – Brittney

M- 5 / T- 5 / B- 3 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance: 4

 

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the pumpkin is present as much as the idea of the pumpkin is conveyed, this once again falls much further on the scale of spiced ale than a true pumpkin beer. – Tim

The pumpkin is clearly an afterthought with cinnamon and nutmeg dominating the spicing. The finish hurts this one being overly spiced and bitter. – Rick

M- 3 / T- 4.5 / B- 4.5 / R- 3.5

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 4.5

Probably the most baffling thing about this beer is that it isn’t half as sweet as it smells. It’s still sweet, but it finishes on a fairly dry and spicy note, which is the only thing keeping it from being too intense. – Mike

I do enjoy the fruity elements and raisin aftertaste, but it ends up being too cloying for me. The dessert aspects of this concept are pushed too far and don’t allow the pumpkin to flourish. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 4 / R- 4.5

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 4

I think you have to look at this in the perspective of; “Are you going to get the experience of having an amazing pumpkin roll in beer format?” The simple answer is no. So, save your calories and go get the real thing. Then wash it down with a nice pumpkin porter instead. – Tim

I can drink an occasional pumpkin pie, I can’t drink a pumpkin roll. – Brittney

M- 5 / T- 3.5 / B- 4 / R- 4

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Overall: 4.83

M- 4.92 / T- 4.83 / B- 4.42 / R- 5.33

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale – Alltech Lexington Brewing Co.

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel

First review of the season, everyone take a deep breathe! Sometimes things get a little divisive over here at the GPBR, but usually we have to be a few brews in first. This time it only took one! Fortunately, we have what we think is a pretty cool four – reviewer format to more closely represent the tastes of all our readership, so if you find yourself agreeing with a certain person more than others, you may want to keep your eyes more specifically on how they scored our many various offerings. After all, that’s one of the best parts about craft beer: We can always agree to disagree as long as there’s something else in the fridge!

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Name: Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lexington, KY / Alltech Lexington Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale / 10.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale is a barrel-aged ale brewed with Kentucky-sourced pumpkin, and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

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Packaging:

A play on Kentucky Bourbon Barrel’s standard packaging this bottling delivers a copper backdrop to accent the barrel face and the traditional thoroughbred visage. Of note, the ABV is missing from the label (which at 10%) is slightly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re getting into. – Tim

This bottle/label is pretty much what you would expect from the name. An image of a barrel on its side with a horse head and Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale displayed proudly. I’ll let the fact that Pumpkin Barrel makes absolutely no sense slide. – Brittney

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Color: 5

Pale golden orange in color with a thin line of pure white lacing around the rim. There is a small amount of carbonation slowly floating to the surface. – Brittney

Thin and very light looking, with a queasy yellow pallor that lacks any defining red-orange hues we so typically see in this beer style. Closer to a slightly scorched pilsner / old hay of a young whiskey. If this were pumpkin beer personified, I’d say they looked a little sick. – Mike

M- 3.5 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 4.5

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Aroma: 6.5

This smells amazing, working my tongue into a frenzy for the first sip. Predominant notes of squash notes on the nose with hints of cinnamon and clove in the heady bouquet and a touch of bourbon sweetness. – Tim

This is where the beer gets you. Super sweet candy like bourbon just wafts off this bad boy. The bourbon draws you in, but the pumpkin and vanilla (maybe even some banana notes) seal the deal and entice that first sip. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

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Mouth feel: 4.5

To my surprise the mouth feel on this one is very thin and mellow. For a barrel aged beer it’s unusually light. – Brittney

It’s somewhat interesting, or even perplexing that such a bold flavored ale can have such a watery mouthfeel. It seems a lot lighter than it should, but it’s all masked fairly well by a bitterness and a bit of pepper on the tongue. The heat from the alcohol doesn’t help matters either. – Rick
M- 3.5 / T- 7 / B- 3.5 / R- 5

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Tasting notes: 6

An assertive amount of cinnamon sugar with fruity bubblegum and fruity pumpkin following. Surprisingly, I get very few actual barrel notes – no real woodiness, tannins, or toast. Without the huge slap of ethanol I would be hard pressed to pick this out as a barrel offering at all. I’d like to say it’s all there somehow, but really, it’s kind of a mess. – Mike

Rich roasted pumpkin notes and spice at the forefront, with candied fruit and vanilla set against oak, spicy pepper and toffee. At 10% ABV it’s got a boozy back end that reminds you of after dinner cocktails chasing homemade pie. – Tim

Other than the hint of heaviness at the end of the aroma this is the only area that this beer tends to feel like it is barrel aged at all. You could say that this beer is a little confused. It looks like a light beer, it smells for the most part like a plain pumpkin ale, it feels unassuming but when you taste this, it goes straight to your head. You still taste the pumpkin and spices but the bourbon and alcohol quickly take center stage. – Brittney

Barrel aging treats this one well, although the weak mouthfeel throws the dynamic here, confusing the senses. The bourbon is the forerunner here, taking center stage while the rest of the flavors mingle in the background just enough to call it pumpkin. – Rick

M- 4 / T- 8.5 / B- 4 / R- 7

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Finish: 4.5

A bit of nutmeg and bread crust attempt to dry things out here, but it just proves too big of a job. – Mike

A little heat from the bourbon and some cinnamon as well. Goes down smooth though, which is befitting of the lighter mouthfeel. A tad too cloying by the first third though, so I’m a bit worried I wont make it through. A little woody but maintains it’s sweetness throughout. – Rick

M- 3 / T- 7 / B- 3 / R- 5

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Flavor balance: 4.5

 

- Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5.5

Artificial pumpkin and cinnamon whiskey shots fight for dominance. You could technically say that they were fairly well balanced with each other, but they never really feel harmonious. – Brittney

M- 3.5 / T- 9 / B- 4 / R- 6.5

 

- Sweet / Dry balance: 4

Sweetness in the nose and body is precisely off-set by the prompt finish and breathy alcohol. It’s not dry but since it never lingers, it avoids becoming cloying and rather winds up very clean. – Tim

I think this gave me diabetes. Someone check my insulin, I’d like to keep my foot. – Mike

M- 2 / T- 8 / B- 3 / R- 4

 

- Multiple Drinkability? 4

Town Branch Bourbon and pumpkin pie sounds like my ideal kind of finishing course for an autumn meal. The liquid form here however, proves less appealing than the real thing. As far as session-able brews goes, that clearly isn’t the intention here, so the body and alcohol prevalence are generally baffling. In the end it equates to a valiant try, but I don’t really care for flavored whiskey, so I definitely don’t enjoy it watered down. – Mike

It’s a decent pumpkin ale but it is a serious assault on the senses. For me it’s too sweet and with a maxed out ABV at 10% it just seems overdone and too cliché. – Rick

M- 2 / T- 8 / B- 3 / R- 3

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Overall: 5.16

M- 3.00 / T- 7.75 / B- 3.50 / R- 5.5.

Kentucky

2013 Rankings and the 2014 Season begins!

Punpkin Beer Set 2014

Oof. Just looking at that photo makes my liver hurt. But we do it for you guys, we do it for you. Now it’s time to do it all over again. So strap in and get ready, the 2014 season has begun and the fourth times a charm!

Of course, as the ritual requires before digging into any more amber spiced libations, here’s a look back at the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the most unique, the most interesting, well, yeah, the really, really good ones. We’ve scoured the earth for these brews, and we will keep searching as the list of craft brews continues to grow and more skilled artisans get in the game.

And of course, we will be breaking down our personal top 5, and lowest ranking choice at the end. So if you’ve got a favorite reviewer, we won’t tell anyone if you skip to there.

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Top 10 Beers To Date

10. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Co.) *Tie* Score 7.75

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Brewed with Two-Row Pale Malt Blend, Caramel 60, Special B, and Smoked Malt. East Kent, Goldings, and Fuggles hops are then added, along with 28 lbs of real pumpkin the barrel. Spices include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

Notable Quotes

“Wow. This is that deliciously burnt crust pumpkin pie reheat that you get the day after Thanksgiving. Piled in creamy goodness to keep it moist, and then finished with a slice of apple wood smoked bacon — because you’re the guy that eats pie for breakfast. The pumpkin tastes phenomenal, and there is no doubting of it’s presence. This barrel is bursting with squash, and momma slapped that hand away before it got too heavy with the spice. It’s got all the sweetness and weight of a Belgian triple.”

Fat Jack corrected

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10. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun  *Tie* Score: 7.75

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

This demented ale took home the Gold at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, and is made with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

Notable Quotes

“Thick with roasted malts, lush pumpkin, cocoa nibs, blackberries, dark fruit jam and molasses blending with a notable touches of cinnamon, vanilla and clove. The beer envelops, it’s sweet and bitter all at once with enough pronounced notes of alcohol heat to keep you warm on the long sunless Saturday’s during Alaska’s famed 30 days of night.”

treat1 WEB

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8. Slashed Pumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie* Score: 7.83

(No longer in production)

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Twenty-two pounds of fresh pie pumpkins are baked, caramelized, and added in the mash, boil, and fermentations stages along with pie spices intended to balance the chocolatey porter. ( This may sound familiar from their offering “The Great Plumpkin“, and with good reason.) It is then finished with chipotle peppers to give it a mild Smokey burn. Another nicety for some additional flair is the garnish of a deep fried Pumpkin Grit Fritter made with Anson Mills Organic Heirloom Grits, pumpkin, spices, and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.

Notable Quotes

“The pumpkin aspects are accented very well by the porter’s smoky qualities and the malty sweetness is just right without being too cloying. It’s a unique addition to a pumpkin beer, but the chipotle spice gives this porter a great finish.”

slashed-pumpkin

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8. Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery  *Tie* Score 7.83

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Gourdgeous uses 1,000 lbs of pumpkins grown at Larry Jacinto Farms just a half mile from the brewery,  hand collected, cut, and seeded by local volunteers, and then roasted in giant ovens compliments of local catering company Q-Works BBQ. It’s then turned into a rich strong porter where molasses and spices join the mix.

 

Notable Quotes

“Did someone say decadent? This is a top notch porter, delivering on every single promise the aroma has to offer, it’s thick and chewy which stands in direct contrast to the color of the ale. Masses of burnt caramel and molasses, roasted pumpkin and baking spices are mixed with earthy sage and rosemary notes.  It’s a full-on assault making this craft beer more of a meal than a beverage.

Gourdgeous

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6. Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing  *Tie*  Score: 7.92

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almighty takes Cigar City’s ever popular Good Gourd (an imperial pumpkin ale that includes Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, and nutmeg) and finishes it out for some time in rum barrels.

 

Notable Quotes

“Spiced Rum, treacle, dark fruits, and milk chocolate. This tastes a good bit like a Dale Degroff tropical pumpkin cocktail with a few extra dashes of Pimento Dram. It’s caramel coated pumpkin bread – beach side.”

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6. Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project) – Paradox Beer Co.  *Tie*  Score: 7.92

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Pepitas Grande is a dark beer brewed with pumpkins, roasted pepitas, Chimayo red chili, and a hint of cocoa. After brewing it is aged in oak red wine barrels.

Notable Quotes

“This isn’t your typical pumpkin ale, and I say that with a very happy lilt applied. This is complexity and grace. The wine barrel adds heavily to its presence and richness, vegetal and earthy notes shine from the competing pumpkin, and the heat is a kiss upon the brow. Both nuanced and epic, this is pumpkin beer done Dios De Los Muertos style. Well deserving of its name.“

Paradox2

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4. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub)  *Tie*  Score: 8.25

(No longer in production)

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

18 lbs of pie pumpkins are baked and caramelized in the emporium’s bakery, and are then used in both the mash and boil to add flavor, texture, and sweetness. Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, and a new spice to our equation, Mace, are added to create a uniquely spicy and aromatic finish. Then it’s garnished with a skewered toastette covered in roasted and candied pumpkin seeds.

Notable Quotes

“Deep roasted pumpkin explodes on the palate while the malty spice keeps the ale dry and pleasantly sweet. The shining star here is definitely the smokey roasted notes though, and the garnish offers such a dramatic change in flavor profile, giving a completely different aspect to the ale. Try the first half without it, and then kill it with the toast. It’s a trip.”

GPA 1

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4. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing  *Tie*  Score: 8.25

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Bewitched and brewed with pagan spirit, Pumking is brewed in tribute to Pủca, the benevolent Celtic goblin of fairy folk lore, who is both respected and feared, but notably a trickster of the highest degree. This beastly beer is brewed with 2-row pale malt, caramel malt, puréed pumpkin, and both magnum and sterling hops.

Notable Quotes

“Huge vanilla cookie notes–that are liable to send neophyte pumpkin beer drinkers running for cover–pop out ahead of pronounced cinnamon, sweet caramel malts and roast pumpkin flavors. It’s toasty and liquory with a background of clove, nutmeg and allspice. Tremendously complex, Southern Tier recommends serving at 40-degrees but as it warms up it displays cognac-like elements that are really unique to this beer.”

Pumking 1

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3. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)  Score: 8.42

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Gourds of Thunders stays true to the Cigar City Brew Pub Farm to Table mission, and features heirloom local organic calabaza pumpkins and butternut squash, along with chocolate rye, dark chocolate, coriander, allspice, and other spices. It is fermented with Tim’s go to house Belgian yeast “Forbidden Fruit”.

 

Notable Quotes

“For some reason, brewpub exclusives tend to be the domain of mad scientist potions, and this ale is no exception. It has to have one of the craziest spice profiles of anything I have had in a very long time. It reminds me primarily of my mother’s homemade Thanksgiving stuffing, with significant notes of celery, cumin, rye seed, fenugreek, an d even a little iron (courtesy of chicken liver in the stuffing – and I don’t know what in the Ale!). Masses of dark chocolate notes and dark roasted malt accentuate the caramelized pumpkin and squash. It’s a meal in a glass.”

Gourds of Thunder WEB

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2. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm To Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.   Score: 8.50

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almanac Pumpkin Barleywine is made with 500 lbs of hand-roasted heirloom pumpkins from La Tercera Farms in Bodega Bay. The caramelized gourds were added to their American Barleywine and aged in brandy barrels for a year, then the resulting concoction was blended with a freshly brewed spiced barleywine.

 

Notable Quotes

“Warm brown sugar, caramel, an explosion of malt, pumpkin, and spice tamed only by wood, and a finish of vanilla, apricots, violets, and cognac. This is what the flame on the tea light inside your jack o’lantern must taste like after a round of Brandy Alexanders.”

Almanac

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1. All Jacked Up (Ron Raike) – Cask & Larder   Score: 8.83

 

Speciality Prep / Individuality:

All Jacked Up is a traditional style pumpkin ale brewed with 150 lbs of Tampa, FL grown Calabaza Pumpkins that are roasted in the kitchen by Cask & Larder’s Sous chef. The Pumpkins are then added to the mash, boil, and secondary fermented, based on the degree of char they received, along with mace, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and wildflower honey.

 

Notable Quotes

“I’m really trying not to be a fan girl here but Ron knows how to make a damn good beer. Just the right amount of earthy/squashy pumpkin with a honey sweetness, and just when you think it can’t get any better the finish completely blows you away.”

All Jacked Up 2

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Top Five Beers By Reviewer To Date:

 

Mike

1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 9.33
2. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pug (Tim Ogden) 9.08
3. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 9.00
4. Pumking – Southern Tier 8.92
5. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun 8.83

Last Place: Sarnac Pumpkin Ale 3.25

 

Tim
1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 9.08
2. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 8.67
3. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale *Tie* 8.25
3. Pepitas Grande – Paradox beer Co. *Tie* 8.25
4. Blight Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing*Tie* 8.17
4. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams *Tie* 8.17

Last Place: Pumpkinhead – Shipyard Brewing 3.08

 

Brittney
1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 8.33
2. Southern Tier Pumking *Tie* 8.17
2. Slashed Pumpkin Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie* 8.17
3. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 7.92
4. Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing *Tie* 7.83
4. Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co. *Tie* 7.83

Last Place: Avery Rumpkin 3.50

 

Rick
1. Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing 8.83
2. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) 8.67
3. The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog *Tie* 8.58
3. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden) *Tie* 8.58
5. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing *Tie* 8.42
5. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. *Tie* 8.42

Last Place: Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider 3.50

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Pumpkin Closze Up

Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing

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First of all, we’d sincerely like to grant you our thanks and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and whatever holidays you might celebrate in the coming months. Rounding out our third year of reviews you’ve made us popular enough that we are buried in beers to cover, and since they’re becoming more and more scare on the shelves, we have opted to cover them in advance for next years season in hopes of bringing you more consistent coverage and getting you a lot more info early on as these brews start to hit the shelves.

Today’s entry is not particularly concerning in that regard as, if you don’t have it by now, you’re probably not going to get it until next year. But we did feel it’s coveted status would be a great entry for today, and we thank the almighty that we got our hands on a bottle. So gather round your friends and family, or maybe just a good meal and a good brew, and dig into one last seasonal review. From us to you, we give our thanks.

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Name: Good Gourd Almighty

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tampa, Florida / Cigar City Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almighty takes Cigar City’s ever popular Good Gourd (an imperial pumpkin ale that includes Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, and nutmeg) and finishes it out for some time in rum barrels.

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Packaging:

This is a special release barrel aged treatment beer, so the label is a bit derivative of it’s father brew, Good Gourd. It’s got some nice dark wood and autumn hues though, which certainly infer the bolder wood flavors I expect from this glass. – Mike

It’s not a far cry removed from the traditional Good Gourd packaging, but the “almighty’ stands out in a big way to help avoid confusion, settled against a backdrop of fall leaves, that even though CCB is in Tampa and probably never sees any ‘color’ still sets a festive mood. – Tim

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Color: 7

The way this beer sits in the glass demands omniscience. Fully opaque burnt caramel has fringes of an amber glow, with slim to no head. It is awesome and unassuming. – Rick

Cloudy brownish orange, with a perfect circle of thin semi sticky lacing and little to no carbonation. It looks like there is almost a freeze frame of sediment floating in the glass. – Brittney

M – 6.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

A heady nose with massive rum notes, the likes of which I haven’t seen since we cracked the Avery Rumpkin back in 2011. Oak and vanilla finish out the bouquet which displays no remaining signs of pumpkin or spice.  It smells intense and I’m not anticipating a little ‘shiver me timbers’ to go with my rum and pumpkin ale. – Tim

Sweet and creamy caramel notes mingle with some intense buttery fruit flavors. This is getting pretty complex already. It has a hot aroma that singes with rum at the nose, rounding out dry and oaken for the finish. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 9

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Mouth feel: 8

Slick and thick, medium bodied with just enough carbonation to keep you interested without an overwhelming presence of it. – Brittney

Some time in the barrel actual seems to have lightened up the body here, moving away from the syrupy origin of Good Gourd, and becoming much more smooth bodied with a light carbonation tingle. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Spiced Rum, treacle, dark fruits, and milk chocolate. This tastes a good bit like a Dale Degroff tropical pumpkin cocktail with a few extra dashes of Pimento Dram. It’s caramel coated pumpkin bread – beach side. – Mike

Welcome back pumpkin, what is lost on the nose is prevalent in the body, blending together with vanilla and cinnamon to deliver a drunken pumpkin pie extravaganza. With buttery crust notes and big malt flavors, the rum is held in check (but only barely) until the exhale permeates all my senses with full bodied flavor.  Pass the whip cream. – Tim

For as strong and intense as it smells it’s actually rather smooth in flavor.  You can tell that it’s got a Good Gourd foundation, but you can’t help but focus on the rum barrel aged accent and the alcohol. – Brittney

Based on the aroma alone I expected this to be super hot and over the top. It actually brings out complex flavors that really add to the experience going above and beyond the senses. It’s really accessible while boasting tons of flavor like banana, oak, cinnamon, rum, sugar, butter, all spice, and even bits of clove. – Rick

M – 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9.5

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Finish: 8.5

The finish is all rum, but it is hardly abrasive. It reminds be heavily of Velvet Falernum. There is a lasting sweetness with a spicy nip, and a bite of citrus / lime. Definitely a Floridian pumpkin beer. A couple of these and I’ll be boarding ships. Forcibly. – Mike

The dry oak finish compliments the mouth feel so well, it removes any implication of being too hot due to a high alcohol content. There’s still a touch of heat on the back end and the rum is quite noticeable. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 8

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8

The pumpkin and spices in the base beer were already mixed really well, and the fact that they still stand out after the aging is impressive. I would add that the addition of oak and rum flavors accentuate the pumpkin profile and propel this beer into it’s final form. – Rick

The interplay of the spice / malt / pumpkin / wood / and rum here is powerfully complex and very enjoyable. You can spend long minutes over each sip musing on the different flavors that seem to pop out and retract into the recesses of this glass. The only thing that keeps me from declaring it truly divine is how very forward the rum qualities are at times. It’s not an unpleasant flavor, but as the drink goes on, I begin to lose a bit of the pumpkin as a result. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 8.5

Quite balanced in this respect as the syrupy slickness and pumpkin tend to be sweet but the alcohol/barrel aged aspect brings the dry finish. – Brittney

Pronounced toffee like sweetness lend this ale a significant dessert aspect with only dry components coming on the close from the high ABV and the oak. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

 

-         Multiple Drinkability?  7.5

While I can appreciate treatments on beers and a bit of barrel aging, I probably wouldn’t drink much more than a glass of this. It’s got a very mellow sweetness that is well tempered by tannic acid qualities and the heat of the rum, but the intensity and alcohol makes it quite potent on the senses. – Brittney

It’s too heady and boozy to be sessionable. I’d rather drive up to some mountains, kick off my shoes and sip this sucker in a brandy snifter beside a roaring fire after a long day of snowboarding.  – Tim

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 10

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Overall: 7.92

M- 8.00 / T- 7.83 / B- 6.92 / R- 8.83

 

Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co.

Riverhorse

So it turns out getting wifi issues resolved in the mountains isn’t quite as easy as it would seem, but we haven’t left you for the year just yet. Leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday we will be making a few more reviews before winter brews completely take over the shelves. So put down those bottles with elves, krampus, or lovely snow scenes for a few more days, and join us in a few more gourd laden delights!

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Name:  Hipp-o Lantern Imperial Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lambertville, NJ / Riverhorse Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Hipp-o Lantern is brewed with pumpkin purée, molasses, and a variety of hand crushed spices.

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Packaging:

A river horse, for those not in the loop, is a Hippopotamus. That established, the label art on this bottle is definitely fun, sporting a well illustrated hippo head jack o’lantern. It’s quirky and amusing, and still manages to get the brand and style across. For my money though, the lampooning of the headless horseman astride a hippo sported on the beer case is maximum laughs. Though in reality, that would be pretty damn terrifying. Have you seen the teeth on those things? – Mike

It’s a graphics intense label with little more than the name of the ale and the brewery up front and some minor tidbits about the concoction inside on the back. There is a whimsical illustration of a pumpkin that I would go so far as to say delivers a “not impressed” look on the neck.  Let’s hope that doesn’t foreshadow the ale to come. – Tim

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Color:  7

This is a beast of a brew boasting a great opaque and rich body that is just aching to be imbibed. It has a rich dark cinnamon profile that glows with an almost reddish hue when held to the light. My glass is also left with a fair bit of legging from the creamy head. – Rick

Pours a murky copper color with trails of carbonation floating to the surface where a small tan head holds strong. As the glass empties a bit you can catch a bit of sediment gathering around the bottom.  – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

Just a touch of everything, a bit of pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, a touch of malt and caramel. It has a really fresh, slightly nutty aroma. Sort of reminds me of the walking into the produce department near fall when it’s full of fresh earthy vegetables, sweet fruits and cinnamon brooms are inevitably hidden somewhere.  – Brittney

The bouquet is cinnamon and clove with pumpkin and caramel and just a touch of booze to carry it all to my nose. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 7 / B- 9 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This beer could stand to have a little more body and a little less carbonation. On a more positive note, it plays a fair balance that isn’t overwhelmingly slick or syrupy and doesn’t leave your mouth feeling like a desert. – Brittney

Refreshingly full bodied, this ale lives up to it’s imperial name. Well balanced flavors mix over the tongue, and I can’t tell that this has a high ABV it’s so smooth. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8

The first thing that pops out at me here, or rather, doesn’t, is the spicing. It’s there just enough to nod at you knowingly, but the star of the show here is a fine amber ale that is earthy pumpkin forward, with lots of crusty notes, and skips the sugary pie minefield all in one step. – Mike

Really well done, with pie spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg swirling around pumpkin puree and rich malts and hints of vanilla.  The ale itself touts how well it is balanced and I for one can’t seem to find a disagreement to be had there.  Not showy, but a solid ale all around. – Tim

 I like it when a pumpkin beer can pull back on the spice and let all of the other elements stand just as strong.  This is a nice blend of earthy pumpkin, nutty malt and enough spice to be a complimentary flavor instead of a crutch. – Brittney

Full flavored and full bodied, I’m really impressed with how well the flavors are balanced. It’s smooth and creamy with some vanilla shining just above the pumpkin flavors.- Rick

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 8

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Finish:  7.5

The finish is as clean as you can expect from this style of beer, and with no overwhelming characteristics (I mean that in the best way possible) there aren’t any lingering flavors. – Brittney

This finishes like a neat rye whiskey. It’d pleasantly dry, with a touch of smoke, and quite savory. – Mike

M- 7.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 7

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Flavor balance:  8.5

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

It’s tricky to call out a specific spice as standing out here, which I find refreshing. River Horse managed to keep this ale both pumpkin forward and fairly dry for such a malty glass. The result is a nicely restrained offering that, while it may not blow your socks off, also won’t blow your palate. – Mike

Arguably one of the most balanced pumpkin offerings I’ve had, this ale isn’t broadly hitting every possible nuance of the varieties of pumpkin beer offerings, but still manages to compile the spice and gourd backgrounds into a swirling vortex of malty goodness. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 9 / R- 8

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Sweetness in the body is tempered by a touch of sourness and the clean finish, once again showing a deft hand from the Brew master at River Horse. – Tim

I have a tough time with beer that is too sweet, so tasting an imperial pumpkin ale that is so full of flavor, yet so well balanced is a welcome treat. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

-         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

This would be a great session ale for parties or as a mellow offer with with a bit of booze after a big Thanksgiving meal. It’s full and refreshing, but eludes a heavy, sugary gut full of bloat. All in all, a fantastic fall sipper for a cool evening. – Mike

If I saw this on the shelves it would be one of my top picks. It’s well rounded, balanced almost perfectly, and has cojones. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 8 / R- 8

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Overall:  7.67

M- 7.58 / T- 7.17 / B- 7.83 / R- 7.67

Quick Hits II – Jaw Jacker, Punkel, & Sweet Yamma Jamma

GPBR

We know, we know, it’s been more than a second since our last post. We have some good reasons though. To add to our lists of delays like marriages, moves, honeymoons, and the like, we can now add babies and hospitalizations. Everyone’s ok now, we assure you, but it’s a little difficult to accurately review beer when you haven’t slept in a week or are on massive pain killers. (Though the reviews might be more entertaining).

We’ve crossed some wires both literally and figuratively, but we won’t abandon you before Turkey day cometh. So without further ado, here are a few, albeit tasty, impostors of pumpkin. These suckers are 100% pumpkin free despite their trappings. We won’t say that’s bad, and they are mostly pretty honest about it, but we felt it was our civic duty to let you know the truth.

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Name: Jaw Jacker

Place of Origin / Brewer: Battle Creek, MI / Arcadia Brewing Co.

Beer Style / ABV%: Spiced Ale / 6.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Jaw Jacker is an ale with spices (specifically cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg) added.

This was definitely one of our “duh” moments for the season. We all gathered to review this ale, quietly typing and scribbling away our notes (We don’t discuss the beers until after we have reviewed them individually). At the end, we all sat around the table and asked where the pumpkin was and, after digging on the internet a bit, found out it was “nowhere”. It’s still a little confusing to us why Arcadia decided to slap a giant fanged pumpkin ala “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” on the front of this one, but hey, we won’t complain about accidentally drinking an extra beer.

The glass greets you with a familiar burnished bronze and a nose of earthy spice and cherry cola fizz. In the mouth though, it’s a bit thin and quite bitter and earthy. This is one strange palate blower. While it’s not exceedingly clove, or cinnamon fire, the blend tends to come out as a soapy numbing pungency. Maybe they should put a little pumpkin in this after all to balance some things out.

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Name: Punkel

Place of Origin / Brewer: Garland, TX / Lakewood Brewing Co.

Beer Style / ABV%: Spiced Dunkel Lager / 5.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Punkel is a Munich Dunkel style lager based on the flavor of the dessert pumpkin pie. It is spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and includes no pumpkin.

There is an unfortunate mentality that comes out of the mouths of many of pumpkin beer’s critics, chief among them being the idea that “Pumpkin imparts little to no flavor”. We here at the GPBR simply disagree with that mindset, but we won’t hold it against Lakewood, we just aren’t sure why you’d set out to make a beer based on pumpkin pie and skip the pumpkin. That said, there are some nice things going on in and on this bottle!

The first impression is a sleek design job on the label including a wooden barrel stave logo (that is close to our hearts and our blog format, a nice selection of pairing recommendations (Smoked Gruyére! Good call!), and yes, the name is quite clever.

This tasty brown ale has gorgeous ruby highlights, and a nose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger over a hearty malt sea. In fact, this really does come quite close to achieving a pumpkin pie vibe, with a delicate pie crust body that’s malty and exceedingly well balanced. It’s smooth, silky, and makes a great session lager for those who can’t decide between Oktoberfest or Halloween.

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Name: Sweet Yamma Jamma

Place of Origin / Brewer: Minneapolis, MN / Indeed Brewing Co.

Beer Style / ABV%: Sweet Potato Ale / 5.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Sweet Yamma Jamma is brewed with 480 lbs of sweet potatoes in the mash along with European malts, and then canned yams and spices are added to secondary fermentation to infuse flavor.

We can always appreciate a cool can design, and you can be assured that any brewery that includes schematics of its brewing system on their website is into the details. The sweeping, epic font of the name elicits 70’s funk throwback, and the beer delivers on said funk. This is like the exploitation film of pumpkin ales.

On the red side of orange with a thin white head, the first thing that pos into your head is sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Savory vegetal yam plays against a good bit of biscuity malt, a hint of ginger and pepper, and a punch of brown sugar to sweeten it up a notch. This doesn’t play at being a pumpkin ale so much as it passes you the wrong dish when you reach for one. And for that we applaud it. It’s clean, refreshing, and though it’s a bit one note, it’s a good note. Sweet Yamma Jamma, Indeed.

Count Orlok Black Pumpkin Ale (Revolution Series #666 STL) – Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Orlock II

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the estate of Bram Stoker would probably disagree. Feel as you may about the overwhelming plethora of blood sucking freaks that have made their way pervasively through popular culture, there is no denying that some rip offs are better than others. On that subject, the seminal 1922 release of “Nosferatu” certainly rises to the head of the glass, so to speak. During the first World War, Germany had essentially banned all foreign films, and the side effect was the rise of the German Expressionist movement. Combining geometric absurdist design with intellectual explorations of dark themes, the films became a massive influence on many filmmakers, and remain cult classics to this day. Of course, while the presentation may have been wholly original, Nosferatu encountered more than a bit of a problem in borrowing content, namely the underlying plot of a slightly more famous vampire, “Count Dracula”.

Despite the iconic performance of Max Shrek as the less than suave, more than terrifying, rodent faced “Count Orlok”, there is no scorn quite like that of a widowed Florence Stoker. Perhaps rightfully, but nonetheless unfortunately, a court order was issued deeming the work a thinly veiled infringement of copy-written work, and all copies were ordered destroyed. It’s hard to keep a vampire dead though, and lurking about the shadows of Europe, a single print was recovered, copied by fans, and finally, distributed to become the silent iconic horror masterpiece adored by so many today.

Since it is now in the public domain, you can jump to the bottom of the blog to watch the full movie and download a copy for yourself. Happy Halloween!

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Name:  Count Orlok Black Pumpkin Ale (Revolution Series #666 STL)

Place of Origin / Brewer: St. Louis, MO / Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Black Pumpkin Wheat Ale / 5.4%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This German inspired bier noir is brewed with Golden Delicious pumpkins and features Pale & Munich malts, along with German wheat and Opal hops, a Bavarian yeast strain, and pie spices.

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Packaging:

I think it should be said for the purposes of full disclosure that I am a huge student of silent films (I even have Lon Chaney Sr. tattooed on my arm).  So, I’m pre-disposed to be a raging fan boy over this “Revolution Series #666″ bottling from Urban Chestnut, featuring the singularly creepy Count Orlok.  The Count, a vampire, was a character that F.W. Murnau christened in the 1922 film Nosferatu to avoid a lawsuit with Bram Stoker’s widow over the name Dracula.  And even though Vampires drink blood–I’m sure an exception can be made for this “Black Pumpkin Ale” around Halloween time. – Tim

Really cool “Nosferatu” themed design, fits the season and haunts my fridge. I’m a sucker for horror themes and this one takes the cake. – Rick

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Color:  7

Pours a murky mahogany brown color with very little head and the thinnest of white lacing around the edges. Due to the complete opaqueness of the class the only place you can catch the slight carbonation is at the top. – Brittney

A deep and opaque chestnut brown. Nearly black, but not quite. It sounds a lot less sexy to call it a REALLY DARK BROWN PUMPKIN ALE though, right? There is a nice single finger off white head (my color palate suggests “Fawn”), and the glass appears rather still, but who knows what bubbles are lurking among the shadows? – Mike

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Aroma:  6.5

Lots of nice floral yeast notes mingling with dry black malts. There is a silky sweetness floating over a mixture of oats and barley. It smells just like I imagined a black pumpkin wheat would.- Rick

So far this smells like sour ale. On second and third pass you start to get more of the sweetness of the pumpkin and a flash of cinnamon and clove. – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Mouth feel:  6.5

I’m really enjoying the mouth feel of this one.  It’s a solid medium bodied beer that is not too crisp and not too syrupy.  The carbonation isn’t offensive but there is enough of it that the sips aren’t boring and flat either. – Brittney

Much thinner than expected, I have to remind myself that this is a Black Ale and not a stout or porter, but even then it’s a touch too watery for my tastes and the carbonation is much lighter than the initial pour would suggest – which compounds the problem as well. -Tim

M- 7 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

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Tasting notes:  6.5

Charmingly subtle Dunkelweizen grains and mild sweetness on the first sip and the, as the fluid unassumingly sloshes around your maw, hearty pumpkin pie creeps out to snatch your taste buds away under their dark veil of liquid bread. – Mike

Vampires, as they are, have notorious reactions to garlic–of which this ale has none.  However, were cloves our rat-fanged anti-hero’s kryptonite, then this would be the ale to avoid like the plague–as clove is the undying profile on display here.  Some roasted pumpkin flesh and dark malts come into play, but for the most part this ale is studded with more clove than a holiday ham. – Tim (editors note: Tim doesn’t like too much clove).

I get a lot of roasted malt and wheat in the front of the flavor. What little pumpkin I smelled in the aroma has weakened and the only spice I can taste anymore is clove. This beer is either super complex or fairly simple but it leaves me at a loss. – Brittney

It’s an interesting twist. I like the choice of mixing dark malts into the wheat ale category, as it adds a bit of enjoyable smokiness to the profile of a beer that I otherwise might not like. Pumpkin spices are almost subtle, acting as an accent to an already delicious beer. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

 Orlock

Finish:  7

Lingering smoke, mace, and clove gather in the recess of your cheeks to skulk about awhile. Some banana esters emerge here as well, (again, assuming the clove esters may be lost in actual clove). Finally, a deep and granular earthy wheat dryness becomes the tomb to which the spices adjourn to renew their dark power. – Mike

Burnt dark malts embody the finish and really define this brew. It starts like a wheat, but the end is what sells it for me. A touch of smoke and some delicate hot spicing make for a great conclusion to this ale. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6 / B- 7.5 / R- 7

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Flavor balance:  6.5

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

There is actually a really solid pumpkin profile on this ale, and the character from the aroma leads you to believe this will be more pie than veggie, but it’s all so overpowered by the single-note clove spicing that it throws the whole thing totally out of whack. – Tim

Although these two elements of the pumpkin ale take a back seat in this brew, I do believe they are very well balanced. No spice stands above the other and they all help solidify the pumpkin flavor which becomes a great addition to this black wheat ale. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 7

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

There is a kiss of sweetness that lights up each new sip, but overall, we lean to a smokey, spicy dryness. It draws you back fro more with each sip, not unlike the Vampyr’s hypnotic gaze, and believe me, the bite will be the last thing that you remember. – Mike

Some sugars profile in the body, bending into a sour tinge and finishing dry from the heavy handed spices–it’s not so much balanced as it is confused. – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 6

-         Multiple Drinkability?  7

I’m not the biggest wheat beer fan, but I’m really enjoying this. I believe that, had the malt selection been different, however, this beer might sink to the depths among other forgettable pumpkin ales. – Rick

While not the boldest pumpkin offering around, Orlok succeeds in being both interesting and exceedingly session-able. The beer’s foundation is hearty enough to please any Germanophile, and manages to include a nice seasonal twist that compliments the essential character of the base style. I could definitely do a few of these. Plus, vampires dude. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Overall:  6.66

M- 7.58 / T- 5.83 / B- 6.33 / R- 6.66

 

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