CBC GreatPumpkin

Founded in 1989, Cambridge Brewing Co. is the oldest operating brew pub in Boston and touts the prestige of being one of the nation’s first. With a firm focus on creativity and responsibility, they admirably support the mission of local, organic, and sustainable food and ingredients, stringent green practices in the workplace, and represent the american heritage, of course, of brewing the pumpkin ales our forefathers introduced.

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Name: The Great Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Cambridge, Massachusetts / The Cambridge Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 4.4%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Brewed with over 150 lbs of fresh, organically grown sugar pumpkins in each batch as well as organic barley, The Great Pumpkin Ale proudly works along side the fine folks a Farmschool.org, Wilson Farms, and Valley Malt to promote local, organic, and sustainable farming. It also features a mingling of classic pie spices.

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Packaging:

With nice subdued hues framing a cartoonish illustration, this label evokes long lost childhood memories with it’s stylized art. Subtle design work, but very clearly promotes a pumpkin beer. – Rick

With a distinct craft vibe label and smashed pumpkin etching CBC claims this unfiltered ale is New England’s very first pumpkin brew. It’s not the most striking label I’ve ever seen, but the striped turquoise backdrop will no doubt help it stand out on crowded store shelves this season. – Tim

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Color: 5.5

Yeasty autumn leave hues of yellow and red. There is a nice fizzy updraft from the edges of the glass, but the rest you can barely see through. Definitely unfiltered. – Mike

I enjoy the unfiltered cloudiness of this pumpkin ale. What I’m not totally digging is the copper tinge to the light bodied appearance. A frothy head caps the subtle amber glow that emanates from within. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 4.5

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Aroma: 6

Most pumpkin beers smell of spice and then maybe if you are lucky you get pumpkin. This one smells of pumpkin right off the nose to me, followed by cinnamon and clove with a finish that hints slightly of floral and grain. – Brittney

Peppercorns, mace, and burt pie crust, with a touch of vanilla. Earthy hop presence leaves the nose bitter and is reminiscent of the dry cool air in an Appalachian fall. Unique. – Mike

M – 6 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Mouth feel: 5

Medium bodied and smooth with an inkling of carbonation burn on the tip of my tongue. – Tim

Smooth, easy to drink, light to medium bodied beer, with a good bit of crisp on the tongue from a moderate amount of carbonation. – Brittney

M – 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 5.5

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Tasting notes: 5

The pie crust notes come back into play here making up most of the malt profile, along with bittersweet molasses and burnt sugar. The spicing imparts a drying quality, and reinforce a sense of chimney smoke on autumnal days. – Mike

Mellow roasted pumpkin sweetness gives way to bitter burnt sugar notes enveloped in a malty cascade of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and yeasty bread. – Tim

The pumpkin found in the aroma stays true just a bit at the taste. More so, the spice takes over and is followed by a quite malty brew. All of these elements seem to be very individualized and mellow out in follow through of flavor. – Brittney

This ale is a tad dry with some bitter pumpkin elements. It almost seems too vegetal with some definite earthy elements playing a role. I can only imagine the pumpkins were harvested too soon, that’s the impression I’m left with. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 4

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Finish: 5

Long and bitter on the close with the distinct pumpkin character carrying the ale on for a solid minute. It’s worth noting that it’s a surprising and pleasant rarity to find a pumpkin ale which actually finishes with pumpkin. – Tim

I think the finish is where the seemingly immature nature of the pumpkins plays a big part. It makes the beer finish dry and tops it all off with a hot spicing of cinnamon. – Rick

M – 4.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 3.5

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Flavor balance: 4

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

This is intriguing, in that, pumpkin plays little part of the ale for me, where instead spice and malt dominate and make the overall impression quite aggressive. It toys with being sweet briefly, but the spice ends up bitter and burning. – Mike

It’s over spiced, adding to the dryness which is already at peak levels for me. This approach to spicing is also giving a false impression of the ABV making it seem higher than it actually is. – Rick

M – 3 / T- 5.5 / B- 6 / R- 2.5

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 4

The heavy dry spicing here does me in. Usually burnt pie crust needs beer and whip cream to wash it down. This beer needs another beer to do the trick. – Mike

A sour pumpkin flavor finishes super dry and astringent. Apart from the initial sip, it’s lacking in any appealing sweetness. – Rick

M – 2 / T- 5.5 / B- 5 / R- 3

  • Multiple Drinkability? 3.5

This is a fairly solid ale with nothing too offensive. However, it also fails to be particularly magical in any way. I might have one or two if nothing else was offered, but no more. – Brittney

A solid entry into the pumpkin beer category, but with no distinctive features, I feel like the primary disappointment in this ale is that being one of the older entries in the field, CBC seems content to make a good, tow-the-line ale, which is lacking the innovation that has taken place in the last few years with gourd-based brews. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine pumpkin ale, but I think a session of them would bore me. – Tim

M – 2 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 1.5

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Overall: 5.08

M – 4.58 / T- 6.16 / B- 5.25 / R- 4.25

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