It’s no secret that Sam Adams is a controversial name in the craft beer movement. There’s a strong argument to be made for it’s role in starting people on something besides mass manufacture lagers, and to date, there’s certainly been one that it was just another big company producing quantity over quality. To their credit, Sam Adams seems to be making an attempt to embrace the craft beer revolution and embrace their heritage as “the alternative beer in the mainstream bar”.  With a number of  specialty releases coming out under the Brewmaster Collection, Barrel Room Collection, and other specialty and limited release series, they are certainly doing a solid job of using their resources to create something interesting, rather than just pushing their core product. We took a deep look at one of their most recent entries in that mentality, and were pleasantly surprised.

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Name:  Fat Jack Double Pumpkin (Batch 1)

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Massachusetts, USA / Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company)

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

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.

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Packaging:

I like the cool pen and ink doodle of a plump and happy gourd with human appendages. Its obese appearance, seemingly passed out from overindulgence, and vice-like grip on a spoon paints a morbid scene worthy of Grimm works. – Rick

Fat jack is not a pretty man. He’s a grizzled face, obsequious fellow who looks like he’d just as soon shank you with a spoon, as say hello. Did I mention he is wielding a spoon shank? You don’t want to cross a squash this gnarly. – Mike

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Color:  8.5

This is a deep rustic ale, almost mahogany with a short half-finger head that leaves some minor lacing.  The head isn’t all that spectacular but the color is glorious. – Tim

My first thought is a heavy cream soda but this beer boasts a butter cream colored, dissipating head with a beautiful dark chestnut but luminous body. – Brittney

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

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Aroma:  8

Smokey char-grilled pumpkin and pie crust with the spices in perfect poise. Nothing jumps out intensely, Fat Jack is the Biggie Smalls of pumpkin beer — he just plays it cool and lets the ladies roll up to him. – Mike

If I wasn’t reviewing this, I’d probably be at a loss for words.  There is a smoky richness to the head that reminds me of the only Sam Adams beer I really like (the Scotch Ale) but the smoke is even more pronounced here, and it blends together with a dark sweetness while dancing with spices of Cinnamon, Cumin and Allspice.  I’m actually entranced, as visions of pumpkin pie baking away in a wood burning oven make me feel all Pilgrimy inside. – Tim

Spice cake, pumpkin bread, yeast-y, pumpkin-y, spice-y buttery goodness. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  7.5

Incredibly easy to sip and a touch syrupy, it’s a light drink with a nice tingle on the lips. There’s a slight bite at the end giving the perfect finish to this smooth full bodied ale. – Rick

Smooth, luxurious, and thick, there’s just the right cut of bubble, and a full bodied weight that evades the trap of syrup. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8

Thick and sweet, but not syrupy, carrying big molasses flavors and roasted pumpkin notes that play off the spices in exceptional harmony.  It’s like bottling the most decadent, heart-attack inducing pumpkin pie directly into a bottle.  The smoke from the roasted malts is heavy but not overwhelming on the palate and the 8.5% ABV peeks it’s head around enough that the whole affair almost starts to develop an opulent Barley wine vibe to it.  If this is what Sam Adams has planned to counter the craft beer revolution, I’m willing to take more than a few midnight rides with them. – Tim

Bacon. That would be my first impression. Maple bacon? Chocolate-dipped bacon? Maybe, but we are talking about beer and even though it tastes as though the bacon has been battered in some sort of pumpkin breading and even though I love eating bacon, I just don’t see myself drinking a glass of it. – Brittney

This ale imparts a great smoky flavor that’s reminiscent of many cold evenings spent by the campfire.  The malts are the stars here. Good and sweet, they balance the roastiness and upon first sip I want to chew on this beer. It’s a meal in itself. – Rick

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. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

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Finish:  7

The smoke and hop bitterness here is the coup de gras, capping out and excellent mellow sweet ale, with a warm belly finish, that still leaves you burping up pumpkin instead of liquid smoke afterwards. – Mike

I like this brew for it’s amazing flavor, but also because of the great finish. It’s a smooth drink with a surprising spicy bite. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Flavor balance:  7.5

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8

Cloaked by the other more intense notes the pumpkin and spice both peek through evenly. –Brittney

No spice is entirely dominant here with the exception of cinnamon maybe just a tad. Otherwise, they all balance each other well. The pumpkin is the hero here with the roasted malts contributing very nicely as well. – Rick

Roast pumpkin goodness is in exceptional harmony with the spices early on and throughout consumption.  The beer only falters a bit at the finish when the smoke takes precedent. – Tim

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

The sweetness is present in the first glimpse and then held in a choke hold as the other elements weigh in, before finishing with a dry smoke. Bravo. I applaud Sam Adam’s for bringing their resources together to create such a heavyweight contender. – Mike

It’s not overly sweet, and even exhibits dry notes, which match up well with the smoked goodness contained within.  To me it’s a very, very good mix, which others might find becomes a little too intense after a while.  But hey…I’d drink Rauchbier for breakfast. – Tim

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

-         Multiple Drinkability?  7

It may have a higher ABV but I will try to drink as much of this as I can get my hands on. – Rick

There is a lot of flavor here so much that my palette could probably only stand just one. – Brittney

I know I’m going to get into trouble here because I want to drink this ale way faster than I should.  With the incredibly well masked 8.5% ABV, it’s dangerously delicious.  A formidable bottle size, I’d absolutely put away more than one if I could—and possibly even so many that passed out, with my face half in the candied yams, I would dream of  costumed kiddies collecting Halloween treats, while cartoon turkeys circled my sleepy head. – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Overall:  7.75

M- 8.67 / T- 8.17 / B- 6.17 / R- 7.92

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