You can imagine our excitement when this one arrived in the mail. Named one of Draft Magazine’s “12 Breweries to watch in 2011”, Evolution Craft Brewing was kind enough to send us a few of the extremely limited promo release bottles of their “Jacques Au Lantern”, which will only be available on tap this year (though many of their brews are currently available in bottles, and hopefully, next season this one will be too.) So, while we’re sorry to wax worldly on our more localized followers, we certainly hope anyone traveling in the direction of Delaware this season, will stop in and try this impressive selection themselves.

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Name:  Jacques Au Lantern

Place of Origin / Brewer: Delaware, USA / Evolution Craft Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Amber Ale / 6.3% ABV

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Jacques au Lantern is a Belgian-inspired pumpkin ale, fermented with a Belgian yeast strain for added complexity and depth of character. This amber ale has roasted locally grown pumpkins in the mash and pumpkin pie spices added to the kettle. Currently, it is available only on draft.

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Packaging: Since we were fortunate enough to get a few bottled promos, the only label we have is a copy of the draft handle art, and while it’s certainly nice, we didn’t feel it was fair to compare to other products established in regular bottling.

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Color:  7.5

A mustardy yellow with flame hues, and an intense cloudiness, giving the illusion of a candle shining through a skinned pumpkin. – Mike

A very inviting deep copper tone with an unfiltered haze that’s the color and clarity of a fresh apple cider.  The ale has a creamy white head and lasts for minute or two and leaves gorgeous lacing around the glass. – Tim

A nice, slightly overcooked, pumpkin pie brown really makes this brew appetizing.  There’s a nice cloudiness to this one as well.  It has an appealing full head and really nice lacing to accent its great appearance. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 8 / E – 8

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Aroma6.5

Slightly spicy and a little vegetal but it’s the brew that stands out most to me.  There is a really great earthiness that comes with the pumpkin aroma on this one, it’s like not only are you getting the pumpkin but you are getting a little of the patch it came from. – Brittney

The aroma I found to be a tad weak.  I could pull out some pumpkin in there and a bit of yeast elements as well, but overall, a pinch more cinnamon or nutmeg could really make this stand out in the sweet department. – Tim

Nutmeg dominates, without insisting upon itself and a tingle of ginger emerges on the back of the throat, given a fairly deep breathe.  – Mike

M – 5 / T- 6 / B- 8 / R- 4.5 / E – 9

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Mouth feel:  6.5

I liked this brew’s fluffiness on the palate.  It gives it a chewy body with a small bite on the tip of the tongue. – Rick

Sweet and creamy, with medium body and low carbonation.  This is a smooth beer, which means I could put it down crazy fast.  That’s a big plus in my book. – Tim

Light bodied and slick.  The carbonation doesn’t contest with the spice because, well, there is very little carbonation, allowing you to really taste the intricacies. – Brittney

M – 6 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5 / E – 5

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Tasting notes:  7.5

In the style of a Belgian white ale, this is a very nice departure from many other pumpkin ales who sell the “ale” aspect a bit short.  However, the Jacques au Lantern may go too far in hammering home the “ale” message – the yeast notes are pleasantly strong but the pumpkin is so overpowered that it doesn’t even serve as an accent.  A stronger pumpkin presence could’ve netted this a chart-topping score. – Erich

Overall the balance on this is amazing.  From beginning to end you are greeted with gentle reminder that the leaves are beginning to turn.  This isn’t a roller coaster ride of pumpkin beer.  This is a nice leisurely stroll through the redwoods on a Sunday afternoon. – Brittney

This is a Belgian style ale that really celebrates that fact.  It’s rich and creamy, reminding me of a classic dubbel ale. With notes of allspice and clove in the body and the unmistakable taste of alcohol in the brew, I think I could drink this year-round.  The roasted pumpkin really comes through here as well adding a nutty earthiness and fullness to the ale. – Tim

For a fairly relaxed presence on the nose, this has a prominent fresh pumpkin quality to it. There’s a fruity sweetness that while subdued, brings forth an intense quality of freshly carved pumpkin innards. The spices seem to almost vanish beneath it, creating a pumpkin cider feel. – Mike

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

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Finish:  6.5

Almost as soon as a swallow approaches the back of the tongue, the pumpkin resumes a back seat role, hailing in the same nutmeg from the nose, and just a touch of clove, that slowly creeps across the back wall of the throat, and dissipates into a lingering sweet pumpkin again. – Mike

It’s kind of spicy at first, then goes down smooth to finish with a crisp alcohol bite.  It’s a bit watery on the swallow, and isn’t too bold on the palate. – Rick

A bit too clean, but the fruitiness of the yeast lingers on the palate pleasantly. – Erich

M – 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 5 / E – 5

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Those seeking a refreshing and immensely well balanced, if dualistic approach to their pumpkin craving, should run to the Evo tap. – Mike

Slight in both categories, some might say lacking but the question is balance and the answer is yes. – Brittney

Very difficult to judge the balance when this beer could use more of both. – Erich

M – 9 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6.5 / E – 4

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

The creamy texture and sweetness here works in tandem to provide a beer that is not too sweet and not too dry. – Tim

This beer has a great dryness to it, and while I find the sweetness to be very minimal, it really benefits this particular brew. – Rick

The fruitiness of the yeast notes needs not any extra sweetness, and there’s none here.  Very nice. – Erich

Clean and pleasant, there’s just a hint of honeyed sweetness as you drink, with a touch of bitter lingering in the mouth after swallow evoking a lineament not dissimilar to bourbon. – Mike

M – 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 8 / R- 7 / E – 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

I could see putting away more than one of these if you’re a sucker for Belgian ales like I am.  It’s the closest I’ve come yet to a Pumpkin beer that incorporates both styles in such a successful manner.  At 6.3% ABV if this were local, I might have a drinking problem. – – Tim

This beer isn’t demanding at all, in fact, it’s intensely easy to drink. That said, it’s apparent that Evo has taken the approach of building a uniquely fundamental pumpkin ale, with the intention of putting all the character into the pumpkin, and allowing for no artifice, or pomp. The result is a universally drinkable brew, with all the character and sensibility of a few well placed words, rather than the shouting match others might bring to the table. – Mike

M – 9.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5 / E – 9

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Overall:  7.00

M – 7.17 / T- 7.17 / B- 7.33 / R- 6.08 / E – 7.00

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