What can I say? Sometimes we just don’t agree with other critics. If the spirit of craft brewing was strictly an experimental process, we’d be all about this ale. It’s bold, defined, and exceedingly different. But we like to think there’s more to it than that, and bold or no, this one just misses the mark for us.

On another note, we hope you all are prepped for a fantastic holiday, and have a few p-brews stocked away for the big day. Due to the sheer volume of stuff we’ve got to cover, we’re going to have to extend this years coverage through the end of the month, but hang in there, because we’ve got a few rarer options to talk about, and hopefully, it will give you an incentive (and head start) to track them down next season!

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Name:  Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This particular ale opts for pumpkin puree over the raw pumpkin approach, and features it strictly in the mash phase. Traditional spices are then added to compliment the profile.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Packaging:

You know what I dig the most about this very straightforward label?  It’s the photo of the pumpkin that has this “Farmer’s Market Homebrew” feeling to it, and the decision of the brewer to include the scientific name (Cucurbita Pepo) for the Field Pumpkin under it.  After that, Smuttynose imparts almost zero information about what’s in the bottle.  I like that duality of both science and mystery on display here!  – Tim

Our first photo realistic label so far, Smutty sports a pie pumpkin with a heckuva stem to it, along with a scientific species labeling of the squash pictured. Also featured is the company logo on the neck, a Harbor seal, and native resident of Smuttynose Island. – Mike

The image on the label looks more photographic than most of the drawn or “clip-art” images used on other labels.  Not much else is given to describe our beverage other than an “ale brewed with pumpkin puree & spices” squeezed in under a very generic Pumpkin Ale title. – Brittney

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Color:  5.5

Mustard and tangerine highlight this glass, giving it the reminiscence of fresh pumpkin rind rather than inviting ale. A single finger head also slowly dissipates to a thinner line, with an impressive amount of lacing. – Mike

Hazy orange like a soft field fog hovering just above the earth on an early sunrise in a pumpkin patch.  And, to literally top it off, we get a massive two-finger head with slow dissipation leaving clingy lacing all around. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5

 ____________________________________________________________________________________

Aroma:  7

Initially it smells sweet with overtones of nutmeg.  Then, the sour pumpkin notes start to work their way in creating a nice mixture. – Rick

Earthy raw pumpkin, sweet caramel, spicy nutmeg, smooth vanilla and a touch of musk are the main points I’m getting with a quick hinted finish of woody citrus.  It’s almost as if they have infused the beer with the 1972 perfume Jovan Musk for women. – Brittney

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

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Mouth feel:  5.5

The refreshing part is that it is not another medium to heavy bodied beer that coats your mouth with a syrupy sweetness.  This one is slightly lighter, crisp, and bitey.  Its active carbonation excites the palate and the dryness brings warmness to the tongue.  – Brittney

I was taken aback by the abrupt mouth wide tingle that seems to mask any flavor at first.  It’s heavily carbonated and the bitterness leaves my tongue dry. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 5 / B- 7.5 / R- 3

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Tasting notes:  5

There’s an intensity and bitterness here that I can only describe as oaky and earthy, with the hops playing a grand slam role in the profile. The effect tends to regulate the pumpkin more to the vegetable realm, but in all honesty, the intensity of this brew’s foundation doesn’t seem to have any intention of playing the dessert game, thereby letting the spices play a similar bitter mash up on the senses. – Mike

The beer doesn’t hide behind the spices or the pumpkin.  Of the spices I taste mostly nutmeg and some cinnamon but I also taste the raw earthy pumpkin and the sweet caramel smoothness.  The hops are very prevalent and bring a slight floral, citrus note into the mix creating a very distinctive pumpkin beer option. – Brittney

The sweetness in this beer is minute under such a dry and bitter body that I did not expect.  It’s also a little tart and sour from the pumpkin puree. – Rick

Wow…that was not what I expected from a fall ale!  With no warning on the label, this bad boy is astringent and bitter as sin.  It would appear that these guys have crafted a hoppy, citric beer, that is way more in line with Smuttynose’s IPA offerings than with what the general consensus would call a ‘pumpkin ale’.  It’s floral with notes of oranges and grapefruit that have been dusted with dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 4

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Finish:  5

Clean, crisp, and peppery, there’s yet another unusual aspect to this beer, that seems to want to dance the floral and earthy IPA dance, leaving the malts a bit in the dust. – Mike

Long and dry, with the grapefruit carrying the torch to the bitter (literally) end.  I’ve had some dry IPA beers in my day but this one damn near needs a chaser of water to help get it down.  – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 4

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Flavor balance:  4.5

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

What pumpkin there is in the nose is lost in the body and only hints on the close.  The spice is even superseded by the hoppy bitterness. But, as the initial shock wears off you do get touches here and there.  I guess what I’m saying is that neither the pumpkin nor the spice are predominant over the citric notes. – Tim

The pumpkin puree that is used in the making of this brew leaves it too sour and dry to be able to find any spices. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 2.5

-         Sweet / Dry balance:

A traditional pumpkin flavor is lost here, leaving the ale to be overly bittered and sour, and any sweetness is out of the question. – Rick

It’s dryness is only broken by a brief moment of respite on swallow, where the malts finally make an appearance, before plunging back into a liquid orange pit never to be heard from again. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 3.5 / B- 6 / R- 2

-         Multiple Drinkability?

One or two would probably be my limit.  It has good flavor but the dryness is super harsh.  – Brittney

Overall this beer is complex, intense, and intriguing as hell. That said, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, or the casual pumpkin seasonal approach. Smuttynose has crafted something here for those that take their beer style preference seriously, and have no tolerance for traditional pumpkin offerings. That said, it seems to be of more value to me as a sense of showmanship, than a seasonal session ale. – Mike

Hop heads might just adore this, but with a lackadaisical approach to balancing the pumpkin and spice against the citrus and floral profile, I’d have to ask why you’d even chose this beer over your favorite IPA….unless you just wanted to be ‘festive’. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 1.5

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Overall:  5.42

M- 5.67 / T- 5.17 / B- 7.25 / R- 4.00