As a follow up to the rather famous (and varyingly opinionated on) Pumpkinhead ale, we’ve decided to branch out for this follow up review to reflect upon Shipyard’s lesser known pumpkin offering. Here in Orlando, Florida (Winter Park if you want to get specific), we’re very fortunate to have the Shipyard Brewpub and Emporium, which plays host to a variety of local foods, offers some excellent and creative pub fare, and most of all, has not only the majority of the Shipyard line on tap, but also features a slew of local and regional beer features, Shipyard special editions, and Cicerone certified Head Brew Ron Raike’s bevy of inspired and eclectic creations, brewed on site, that refresh the taps on a weekly basis, usually with an amazing garnish, and sometimes with specific menu items included to compliment them.  (say that five times fast).

It really is an impressive little gem in our community, and we’re fortunate to have something like this just up the street from us. At the end of this post you’ll find a few pics from my last adventure up there (the product pictures for both this, and the last blog entry are also from them).

It’s also worth noting that since our regular reviewer Keenan is having some scheduling troubles and technical issues (read: his computer has completely melted down), we will have our resident lady drinker of repute, Brittney subbing in for him until things get back to normal. We’ll have a full bio up to get to know her soon, so hang in there, and thanks for bearing with us in times of digital fail.

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Name: Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin Ale

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

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Wheat Ale, 9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: While featuring the same English leanings as it’s older brother, Smashed Pumpkin seems to be shooting for the more refined drinker, touting a higher alcohol content, more complex body, and the first time we’ve seen pairing and cooking instructions right on the label of a pumpkin brew. Shipyard definitely seems to take their signature series quite seriously.

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Packaging:

Gold foil topped, perfectly pumpkin colored label.  Shipyard’s classic logo is front and center and “Pugsley’s Signature Series” sets off in striking gold leaf.  This is a beautiful bottle right down to the spooky jack o’ lantern hiding in plain sight right in the middle and the port of origin stamp just off to the side.  A class act all the way. – Tim

Keeping pace with a more Halloween styling, this label is nicely balanced with a shadowed glowing jack o’lantern in black, lights dimmed and all, on a field of burnt orange, and elegant gold foil on the plug. Love it. – Mike

The bright orange colored label surrounds the entire bottle giving room for a description and a few food pairing options.  The front logo tries to signify that this brew is special by using a cursive font and similar embellishments. – Rick

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Color: 7.5

A rindy yellow bottom that blossoms into a full bright orange at the top of a glass. Pleasant cloudiness and thorough carbonation provides a beautiful head and moderate lacing. – Mike

Medium orange / copper hue with a slight bit of cloudiness.  Had about a centimeter of head after pouring which settled to a thin ring around the glass.  Thin lacing. – Erich

Crystal clear and copper – like a penny that’s got just a hint of age on it. Very pretty. And, to literally top it all off, Smashed Pumpkin pours an insane two-finger head that lasts forever. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 8.5 / R- 5 / E – 7

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Aroma: 6.5

The aroma seems a complicated mélange of spices, hops, and malts that tries to blend traditional wheat scents with hints of a lighter IPA.  The high alcohol content of this beer gives a slight bite to the smell as well. – Rick

Nutmeg and clove are present on the nose, but far more subtle than most offerings. There’s also a nice thick presence of pumpkin here and a slight spiciness of cumin on the edge of perception. – Mike

I’m finding a lack of spice on my first approach, its actually lacking in any strong aroma at all.  If I had to pull something from it, it would to be a true pumpkin scent to unimpressive ale. – Brittney

A strong pumpkin aroma sets this beer apart from the pack.  Subtle hints of yeasty fruitiness sneak in behind the pumpkin.  Curiously not much spice character on the nose. – Erich

M – 7 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 6 / E – 8

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Mouth feel: 6.5

It’s clear that the folks at Shipyard are taking notes of the thinness complaint that their Pumpkinhead beer gets.  This 9-percenter is medium-to-full bodied and thick on the tongue in the best possible way.  Not porter thick, but for an ale, this packs quite the punch. – Tim

Ranking in as one of the more substantial tasting beers we’ve chewed on so far, definitely leaning on the side of a wheaty ale. Thick and nicely viscous which seems to allow the foaminess to tone down a bit and avoid too much bite on the tongue. – Mike

There’s a sting of hop bitterness and a bit of heat from the 9.0% ABV.  There’s a bit of substance – not quite buttery but more viscous than water. – Erich

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 6.5 / E – 5

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Tasting notes: 7.5

It’s refreshing to find a flavored beer that doesn’t overload you with most of what you have in your spice rack, but isn’t that part of the fun of drinking a pumpkin beer in the first place? – Brittney

This is more of what a pumpkin beer should be – a good base beer that uses pumpkin as a key accent.  The ale yeast provides a subtle fruitiness that the pumpkin compliments superbly, with a hop bitterness contrasting and rounding out the experience as a nice pale ale.  As the beer warms the subtle spice characteristic (mostly nutmeg) emerges. – Erich

If Pumpkinhead is the staple beer of the major pumpkin world, Pugsley has done Shipyard a great service in growing up their autumn line. Contrary to it’s precursor, Smashed Pumpkin proves to be a dominantly pumpkin ale – more so than any I’ve ever tasted – relegating the pumpkin pie spice approach as a secondary characteristic, and stepping up to the beer snob table as a challenging palatial entity. Bravo gentleman. – Mike

M – 9 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 5.5 / E – 8

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Finish: 7

This ale starts slightly sweet and ends bitter at the back of the tongue.  The abundance of spice leaves me searching for the pumpkin at the end. – Rick

Long, sweet, molasses finish that demands you savor it for more than a few moments However, medium carbonation along with the higher alcohol content can defiantly produce a little heat in the throat for those of you not accustomed to aggressive beers. – Tim

Despite the syrupy sweetness, once that linger leaves the mouth, the finish is more reminiscent of a dry chardonnay. – Brittney

M – 7 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 6 / E – 7

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Flavor balance:5.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

While appearing in an unusual separatist nature, the presence of both is undeniable, but the real winner here is the definitive pumpkin presence. To be honest, I do enjoy the spicier notes of other ales a bit more, and if I had one criticism of this beer, it might be an attempt to capture the smoothness of spice that other ales provide – strictly when it is present on the nose and finish, without foregoing their focus on pumpkin.

The more upfront pumpkin presence is very nice and a good change of pace from other pumpkin brews, but a little more spice would’ve made this fantastic. – Erich

M – 7 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 5.5 / E – 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

For an ale that teeters the line into a heavier weight class, this one could have been over sweet, but Shipyard showed some excellent restraint here and I think it comes out very well balanced. – Tim

It seems well balanced at first, but then tends to accentuate the dryness of the hops leaving you searching for the pumpkin. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 5 / E – 5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Despite it’s higher alcohol content, Smashed goes down shockingly well. While the sugariness and foam is a touch bloating, the reality is, that’s after an equivalent three drinks by the average pour standard of anything we’ve reviewed up until now. I could happily do myself in with two bottles of this, if you’re driving, of course. I paired my second pour with a stroopwaffle. I highly recommend it. – Mike

This is not my favorite pumpkin ale, and I can’t say I really enjoy the way the hops play a role in this ale.  Unfortunately, I could barely make my way through the 22oz bottle. – Rick

I wouldn’t push it but I’m an 108 pound lady. – Brittney

M – 6 / T- 4 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5 / E – 6

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Overall: 6.75

M – 7.50 / T- 7.08 / B- 6.33 / R- 5.67 / E – 6.75

Editors note: For a potentially blasphemic taste experience, and to add that little bit of spice, try pouring about a 1: 3 ratio of Pumpkinhead into Pugsley’s Smashed to achieve the more pumpkin pie result of other beers, without overpowering this delicious brew. Just don’t get caught by the beer police, or you might get slapped.

Pumpkinhead anyone?

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They seem well enough stocked.

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The many taps of the shipyard, and a great excuse as to why we drink so much.

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Roasted duck fried dumplings. mmmmmmm.

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A peek inside the pub menu, featuring an anatomy of beer, paired with an excellent Cigar City Maduro (in a Laughing Skull glass).

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Some cook vats ready for the next brew.

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The Mug club is a great resource to locals offering bigger pours, and your own personal mug, along with special drink offers. Note the top left shelf of the freezer featuring Ron's yeast samples in Ball jars.

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