Posts by greatpumpkinbeerreview

Punkuccino – Elysian Brewing Company

Elysian Punkachino

 

The fine folks over at Elysian brewing, if not the de-facto kinds of pumpkin beer, certainly are one of it’s most prolific producers. Between their ever expanding seasonal releases, extremely creative recipe twists, and an ever expanding pumpkin beer festival now entering it’s 10th year running with over 70 unique pumpkin brews, it’s hard to deny that these folks are as serious about pumpkin as we are. Obviously, we were more than hyped to dive into this years new mass bottle release offering (and extremely sad when we saw all the fest only beers we’d be missing on their website)!

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Name: Punkuccino

Place of Origin / Brewer: Seattle, WA / Elysian Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%: Coffee Pumpkin Ale / 5.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Punkuccino is lightly bittered with German Northern Brewer hops, and features a mash bill of Pale, Brown, Biscuit, C-77, Crystal, Chocolate, and Kiln coffee malt. It then receives a shot of Stumptown coffee toddy, lactose, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and follows Elysian’s trademark method of adding pumpkin to the mash, kettle, and fermenter.

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Packaging:

Elysian continues its winning streak for delivering fantastically spooky graphics to accompany their barrage of Pumpkin beers. Considering how many they produce it’s amazing they are all are so damn good, while other breweries that only manage one Halloween ale, can’t seem to get a solid label on the bottle at all. – Tim

Very cool and festive. I love the art for this one. It’s playful and bold and really sells the brand as well. – Rick

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Color: 8

Porter -like darkness with nut brown and ruby notes, and just a smidge less opacity, all crowned by a latte art worthy head. – Brittney

Significantly darker than to be expected for a traditional ale, bordering on a crossover between a hearty brown ale and a porter–perhaps a not-so-subtle reminder of the coffee appeal of this ale. – Tim

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

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Aroma: 9

This smells amazing; everything smells fresh! The coffee could have just been ground, the cinnamon and nutmeg recently grated. It’s delicate and balanced and extremely appetizing. – Brittney

Cinnamon Dolce cold brew meets toast. Giant malt breadiness. I really get the biscuit malt here and it plays very nicely with the cinnamon. So much so I want to go make cinnamon toast now. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 10 / R- 8.5

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Mouth feel: 7.5

The mouthfeel on this ale is comparable to a full bodied stout. It’s super smooth, somewhat creamy, and just bursting with flavor. – Rick

The addition of lactose gives the ale a silky smooth body with soft carbonation, we are bordering on Latte levels here. – Tim

Medium to full bodied and very creamy. Almost too creamy in my opinion. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 4 / R- 8

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Tasting notes: 9

Move over corporate spice latte, this is my new favorite hangover drink. The squashed based breakfast food you never knew you wanted. Pumpkin, cinnamon, and cafe latte blended against a pancake batter and fresh biscuit body. It’s epic. – Mike

The pumpkin presence is subtle in the body with toasty roasted malts and coffee providing a mild bittering agent. The cinnamon in the nose is pronounced in the body along with a nice medley of pie spice. The fullness of the ale verges on stout levels of creaminess making this the closest any ale has ever come to replicating a pumpkin spiced latte. Elysian has consistently crafted superior pumpkin ales, however due to my near obsessive compulsion for pumpkin coffee, this may stand as their single greatest alcoholic achievement. – Tim

Cold brewing in the toddy helps to bring out the essence of the coffee without the bitter notes. The Chocolate notes are more cocoa, the cinnamon and nutmeg really stand out as well as the creamy coffee goodness, but I don’t really get a lot of the pumpkin. – Brittney

The cinnamon and coffee flavors are the highlights here. A nice chocolate and coffee flavor is balanced well with a full dose of cinnamon that isn’t too hot. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 10 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Finish: 8

The coffee and spice are the two touches that linger the most to me in flavor. The intense creamy mouth feel would be the second. The first I’m okay with the second I could live without. It feels like I just drank a pumpkin coffee milkshake. – Brittney

This ale finishes like a rich roasted espresso. The bitter coffee is great here with the dryness of the chocolate flavor adding finesse to the back end. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance: 9

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

I’m really not sure how they pulled this one off but Elysian knocks it out of the park here. Balancing coffee with spice and having pumpkin show at all, let alone notably, is quite an achievement. To have them play this well together is a downright miracle. – Mike

I really can’t find any fault whatsoever in this from the perspective of pumpkin pie. The title promises a Pumpkin Pie Cappuccino and (even though it’s probably the only one in existence) this is as good as it gets. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 10 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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  • Sweet / Dry balance: 9.5

Sweet pumpkin and spice up front with a touch of bitter black and hops on the back. This could have easily been a syrupy mess of a palate wrecker, but we’re far in the clear here. It’s damn near flawless, unless of course, you hate coffee. – Mike

The way the coffee and chocolate flavors work together to balance this beer is excellent. I’m really impressed. – Rick

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

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  • Multiple Drinkability? 9.5

When it comes to the morning after a night of hard drinking, sometimes your stomach just needs a light roast coffee and soon after, a lighter brew to get back in the game. Punkuccino offers both in spades, and offers a refreshing touch for intense, heavy coffee imperials, bringing all your favorite flavors to an extremely sessionable brew. This should definitely please seasoned beardo’s and sorority sisters alike. – Mike

This beer is so good you’ll be surprised that it’s only 5% ABV. Full flavored, full bodied, a good pumpkin flavor, and with a low ABV it’s not too easy to avoid drinking them all. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 9.5 / B- 9 / R- 10

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Overall: 8.42

M- 9.33 / T- 9.08 / B- 7.25 / R- 8.42

Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac Scaled Edit

 

One of the styles we don’t see to often in the pumpkin category is the elusive, and often divisive, sour ale. Leave it to the good folks at Almanac Beer Co to follow up last years (and coincidentally one of our highest ranking beers to date) Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine with a new entry, Dark Pumpkin Sour. Though they share the same humble roots, gorgeous artwork, and barrel times, they couldn’t stylistically be any further apart! So, if you can find one, crack it open and compare notes with us, and if you can’t, you’re probably going to want to find one – so keep trying!

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Name: Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Sam Jose, CA / Almanac Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Dark Pumpkin Sour / 7.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Designed as a counterpoint to the sweet and savory items on a fall dinner table, Dark Pumpkin Sour is brewed with caramelized organic heirloom pumpkins from Bodega Bay, pie spices, and then aged in used red wine barrels for a year.

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Packaging:

Almanac should probably win the award for the most classically inspired bottling each year, with their wood carved motifs and calligraphic logo they inspire an old world appeal that really carries the legacy of colonial pumpkin ales into the new millennium. – Tim

There isn’t a lot more to say about Almanac’s design than it is simply a work of art. I would seriously hang both their iconic woodcut tree logo and the hop bine entwined “Farm to Barrel” designs on my wall proudly. They must really like it too because there isn’t a whole lot differentiating this from their other Pumpkin Barleywine offering appearance wise. A quick color change from orange to deep turquoise on the inch wide bottom label is the only major difference. But then, why fix what ain’t broke?

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Color: 7.5

Rich, deep mahogany and plum with glinting copper highlights where the light happens to pierce the shadows, and a tan head that fights to stick around. Murky like a bog. – Brittney

This sour ale pours a fluffy light brown head that billows over an opaque body. Root beer brown with some earthy tones. Looks quite impressive. – Rick

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

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Aroma: 7.5

Pronounced Brettanomyces barnyard funk, cereal grains, pinot noir grapes, and dark fruits, meet a smatter of perfumed wood and slight porter-y roast. – Mike

This definitely has a great barrel aged nose to it, imparting some nice woody elements amongst a musty roasted character. Red wine is another bold aroma that starts sour, but has an enticing sweetness to it, and I can’t wait to try this beer. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Mouth feel: 7.5

A study in contradiction, the dark voluptuous body belies a crisp highly acidic sour ale, that explodes on the tongue causing your taste buds to detonate with the shock of an atomic warhead. – Tim

Instant pucker on the first sip. It’s like a barrage on the senses, but it’s a light sour tartness that envelopes the tongue while a wisp of sweetness tickles it. Interestingly, the medium body contains a full flavored punch that’s easy to drink. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Intense citric acidity with pepper, wood, and a zesty spice on the fringes. As it warms dry, dark wine qualities appear alongside notes of pine, vegetal summer squash, and touches of caramel and cinnamon. – Mike

Crisp and bright, the pumpkin is tamed and even lost a bit in the bright lemon pucker notes. As a complement to a thick, rich pumpkin pie with a dense homemade whipped cream this ale would cut right though the gluttony and refresh your palate between each bite. Hint of allspice carries the ale slightly into the holiday season, but as a drink designed to complement a dessert rather than replicate, it gets high marks for contrasting tendencies. – Tim

There are moments where the pumpkin is fighting to show through, but for the most part all I’m tasting is sour. As it warms the spices begin to appear along side roasted pumpkin seed and wood and I can see why they recommend having this with pie. It needs the savory sweetness as an accompaniment. – Brittney

It’s like a sweet and sour pumpkin with a light watery red wine swirl. Great compliments, but is very atypical for a pumpkin offering. As it warms towards room temperature, the beer mellows and I’m starting to discover more elements of sweet cinnamon within the oaken melange. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9

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Finish: 8

The finish is really were you get most of the flavor. The acidity begins to withdraw and pumpkin really comes through, almost as an afterthought. Roast and touches of caramel qualities as well as some woody vanilla. – Brittney

Blade mace and resinous cedar wood give way to a long, long, tart decay that settles out with echoes of the fork full of pumpkin pie that I never actually ate. Why, oh why do you elude me you devious phantom pastry? – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

While the pumpkin takes a backseat to the sour’s peacock levels of non-subtlety, the notes on the nose and the color imparted in the ale are not to be missed. The spice on display is mainly a function of the wine barrel aging and as such adds tremendous depth to proceedings. – Tim

The pumpkin here is less of a defined quality than it is a referential. This brew begs to be set alongside your dessert course at Thanksgiving, and the spice is far more, but still subtly, notable. – Mike

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

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Tart, dry, and definitively sour. How dry and sour? The balance to the cabernet-sour is roast and wood. Sucka’s dryyy. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

This is a fantastic and complex sour. I only wish there was more to get better acquainted with. – Rick

Cutting though a turkey weighted, gravy laden and desert friendly feast, this ale would do well at your next family gathering. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.67

M- 9.00 / T- 7.67 / B- 5.92 / R- 8.08

O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer – O’Fallon Brewery

OFallon

We had a brief lull in events there for a moment, but now that it’s a stones throw to October, we are back and kicking into full steam. Today’s competitor is a cult classic in some parts, and a major competitor for pumpkin party beer across the country. So with out further ado, lets dig into it!

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Name: O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer

Place of Origin / Brewer: O’Fallon, MO / O’Fallon Brewery

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 5.60%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer is brewed by adding 136 pounds of real pumpkin to a mash of pale malt, caramel 90, and white wheat, which is lightly hopped with Cluster hops. Once finished it is spiced with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity and O’Fallon, with its Baseball Team-styled brewery logo, delivers. Featuring a skewed Jack O’Lantern and a few fall leaves floating against a black backdrop, the label is clear and concise but sadly lacking any expansion on the style, spice content, or even the ABV. – Tim

I’m gonna be honest here, this label -while unfailingly communicating it’s contents- ain’t sexy. I’m sure it’s tradition, but it might be time for an update. – Mike

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Color: 5.5

Lots of action right away from the carbonation, leaving a nice billowing head. It’s a super clean transparent ale that gives light to a reddish pale and golden malt glow. – Rick

This looks quite a bit more appealing than the label. Gorgeous clarity, nice carbonation levels, and a pillow top ivory head that sticks around for a good bit. An autumn amber the color of turning leaves. Now if only it wasn’t 97 degrees outside… – Mike

M- 7 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 4

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Aroma: 6.5

Musty, earthy pumpkin at first whiff, followed by the sweetness of sugar and touch of cinnamon spice. There’s a slight roasted caramel malt quality as well. – Brittney

A bit of brown sugar and some cinnamon really blend well to concoct a nice sense of homemade apple pie crust. A touch of raisin is fairly detectable as well as some toffee. – Rick

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

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Mouth feel: 5

Light and slightly slick but not as snappy as I would have guessed from the amount of carbonation when poured. Definitely settles into almost a flatness. – Brittney

Tongue burn from the high carbonation gives way to crisp ale with a bright but slightly thin body. – Tim

M- 6.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 5 / R- 5

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Tasting notes: 6

Cinnamon and Nutmeg soar to the forefront with sweet cream and pumpkin following shortly behind. It’s a pretty spot on semblance of canned pumpkin pie that’s been topped with a dollop of whipped creams, and has a biscuity – graham cracker crusty back. – Mike

With an overall pumpkin pie profile of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove the mixture lacks any real substance which unfortunately matches up with the body. Toasted malt and some hop bitters try to work their complex magic but the lack of any real presence gives the ale more of a late-summer lager profile and not enough fall goodness. – Tim

This one is not overwhelming in any category. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove are all there but only the cinnamon really lingers making it fairly dominating. There is a bit of pumpkin serving as a solid foundation for the spices, but it’s a bit sweet for my tastes. – Brittney

I enjoy the subdued mix of flavors here. This beer has some nice qualities but it seems closer to a fruit beer or a cider than a pumpkin ale. The minimal pumpkin allows for some cinnamon, apple, and raisin flavors to take front row. It isn’t too exciting, but I find this beer could make a nice introduction to the style and broaden ones appreciation for pumpkin ales. – Rick

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

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Finish: 6

Lingering pumpkin sweetness as the spice fades and a touch of the more bitter side of molasses roast and clove give it a drying quality. Fairly lengthy, but pleasing enough. – Mike

This is a very smooth and watery beer with a slightly bitter finish that caps each sip well. It’s easy to drink and light on the palate making it very session-able. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

The pumpkin is MIA but for the illusion presented in the spice profile. Which, while on paper seems like a fine balance of pie spices, sadly it just doesn’t amount to enough overall bang for your buck. – Tim

There is a solid presence of malt, which lends some presence to the pumpkin, but the spice is very prominent here, making it feel a bit out of check. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 4 / B- 8 / R- 7

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

It seems to start with unced sweetnesss, but as the glass warms a pleasant, subtle complexity begins to emerge along with breadier malts and a spicy bite. – Mike

Well done. This beer seems like it could lean towards cloying at any moment and completely ruin it for me, but there’s a nice balance here akin to dry apple juice. The watery body and mouthfeel play a big part in keeping the sweetness at bay. – Rick

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

  • Multiple Drinkability? 6

While you’re still waiting for the mercury to drop below the boiling point, you could easily put away a few of these ales. The inoffensive 5.5% ABV won’t wreck your afternoon, but with so many other great pumpkin beers on the market, this one is hardly worth running out and stockpiling. – Tim

In a world of gigantic cloying imperial pumpkins, this is a pretty respectable session brew. Not too heavy for milder autumns and enough weight for cooler climates, it plays to both the refreshing and pleasantly boozy crowd. Compared to others in it’s class, it’s nicely balanced and has some notable pumpkin which is a change of pace for anything under 10%. This is an excellent gateway beer to the style. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 4 / R- 6

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Overall: 6.00

M- 7.16 / T- 5.42 / B- 5.66 / R- 5.58

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.”

photo

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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

photo

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

 

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