First off, just wanted to apologize about the delay between posts. We’ve had a hectic schedule that we’re trying to iron the kinks out of with multiple members of this blog traveling to Atlanta last weekend, two of us playing some higher profile shows, and a wedding in the mix.  To make it up to you, we’ll be doing a double back to back post coverage of Shipyard’s famous, and lesser known pumpkin brews. So be sure to check back tomorrow!


Name: Pumpkinhead Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maine, U.S.A – Shipyard Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Wheat Ale, 5.1%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Shipyard brewery specializes in English style ales, and this award winning ale is no different. Featuring two-row british pale malt, malted wheat, and English top fermenting yeast, it certainly offers a bit of a departure from a number of the American styles we’ve seen so far.



A spookier look for shipyard wins a fond place in my heart that would make Washington Irving proud. Featuring a statue sporting a sinister looking jack o’lantern in place of a head, it’s certainly Halloween. Fortunately this horseman just seems to be looking for a kegger. – Mike

The illustrated pumpkin is quite cartoony and appears to be an homage to the Headless Horseman, so enjoyable in some aspects.  The dark blue background provides great contrast to the orange Shipyard logo and orange banner.  The use of different fonts on the label feels a bit jarring. – Erich

Shipyard bottles always look great.  And, I’d be lying if I didn’t measure the beginning of the fall season by looking around for the big display of Black/Blue and Orange bottles of Pumpkinhead Ale with their patina-bronzed headless horseman logo holding a mighty pint glass aloft. It’s a great label and a herald for the end of summer. – Tim



Color: 3.5

A little bit lighter in color with a golden hue and a hint of caramel coloring.  The head was very light and dissipated fairly quickly. – Rick

If you want to call this orange, you’re going to need to hold it up to a piece of stark white paper.  In fact, you’d be better off just holding it up to a piece of orange paper.  Sadly, color wise, this could be just about any basic golden-hued ale. – Tim

Very pale amber color with thin head, no lacing and a good amount of carbonation.  Nothing about its appearance advertises “pumpkin beer”, or even “beer” for that matter.  Looks more like cider or ginger ale. – Erich

M – 2.5 / T- 3 / K- 4.5 / R- 6 / E – 1


Aroma: 5.5

Clove emerges in dominance with allspice following and just a glimpse of nutmeg. I don’t smell even a dash of pumpkin here. It’s pleasant enough, though, and certainly nothing to turn me away. – Mike

The cinnamon spice really stands out here hinting at an abundance of sweetness with almost a buttery scent lingering in the background as well. – Rick

A fantastic pumpkin smell. Just the right amount of cinnamon as well. – Keenan

I feel like I’m grading on a curve here because I think people really like how this smells.  It’s almost overpoweringly spicy.  Like someone dumped a shot glass of Allspice, Nutmeg and Clove into the bottle.  But it almost smells artificially overpowering–like pumpkin potpourri.  – Tim

M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 10 / R- 7 / E – 3


Mouth feel: 5

The best analogy is soda water, but without the acidity – i.e. too much carbonation.  Spices feel sharp and astringent initially, then fade to a tickle. – Erich

Mild bodied and clean with a fair amount of carbonation giving it the slightest burn when held on the tongue.  Probably the boldest aspect of this pour. – Mike

Light and watery with a very slight bite of carbonation which gives it a crisp feel on the tongue.  Otherwise, there’s not much going on here. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 2 / K- 10  / R- 5 / E – 3


Tasting notes: 5.5

Surprisingly, despite the nose and color, there is a shot of pumpkin, nicely copulating with cinnamon and nutmeg. Interestingly, the clove seems to take a back seat. There’s also a note of caramel and malty bite. – Mike

Pumpkinhead, for all its branding savvy and the scores of friends of mine that love it, comes off to me as little more than a Yankee Candle floating in a glass of Corona.  The flavor profile is inoffensive generic beer with a gallon of spices to mask the taste.  Like soda pop for adults. – Tim

This beer is not too spicy or sweet having the ability to really capture the essence of pumpkin spices.  It is quite appealing to the senses, and I think combined with it’s lightness make this beer a great introductory pumpkin lager. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 3 / K- 8 / R- 6 / E – 2


Finish: 5.5

The initial burst of sweetness and spice attenuates quickly, leaving a faint spice flavor and an overall clean finish. – Erich

Creamy and rich, there’s definitely a whipped cream and pumpkin pie mix that lingers on the tongue pleasantly, and throws the faintest scent of a burning jack o lantern up the back of the throat into the nose. Cumin comes to the front of the throat on swallow, for the faintest burn and a lot of character. – Mike

Super crisp if you drink it at damn-near freezing temps.  Light and innocuous if you take it up a few degrees.  It’s gone off your tongue in a matter of seconds. – Tim

The after taste is great. Not too strong. Though I can’t help but have an almost copper taste in my mouth after drinking a six pack. – Keenan

M – 8 / T- 3 / K- 9 / R- 5 / E – 3


Flavor balance:5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

It’s all spice for those of you that like that sort of thing. – Tim

It is too sweet, with a poor balance of spice (cinnamon and clove dominate) and is absolutely foundationless with regard to hop, yeast or malt character.  As a beverage in general, it may certainly be enjoyable, but through the lens of a beer review, it fails. – Erich

M – 4 / T- 3 / K- 10 / R- 5.5 / E – 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Fairly balanced with a slight lean to the sweet side. The bite at the end does mildly confuse though, in that it plays at a stauncher IPA. – Mike

Very cloying. – Erich

M – 6 / T- 3 / K- 6 / R- 6 / E – 2

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Not difficult to drink, but with its sweetness and carbonation one must figure that the Pumpkinhead is a fast-track to an upset stomach, especially for those who are accustomed to drier beverages. – Erich

I would actually purchase Pumpkinhead by the case. I killed these babies quick. – Keenan
M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 10 / R- 7.5 / E – 4


Overall: 5.00

M – 3.92 / T- 3.08 / K- 7.66 / R- 5.92 / E – 2.5

Well, that one’s certain to cause some controversy… check back tomorrow for our review of Shipyard Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin Ale!