Guess who’s back? Nuptial bliss and honeymoon trekking all in all, we didn’t have much like finding any of the European pumpkin offerings we’d heard so much rumor about in our web scouring. So we just had to settle for Scotch. Lots of Scotch. Hopefully though, that means a very welcome end to the graphic skimping on lots of our reviews since we’ll have a little more time post wedding to actually drink and shoot separately (trust us, it makes the images a lot less blurry that way.) Also, as a call to all you postal pirates out there, we’re having a difficult time tracking down a number of regional brews due to all the varying restrictions around the country about shipping beer. And while we’ve got a lot in the fridge, we’d like to more easily meet our goal of total coverage by asking anyone who thinks they have something we might now have access to at arms reach, to contact out main line (greatpumpkinbeerreview@gmail.com) if they’d be willing to ship us a few and sort things out via PayPal (obviously as long as all the legalities are in order for your state). It would be a huge help to us, and there might just be a t-shirt in it for ya! Now without further ado…

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Name: Private Reserve Pumpkin – Woodchuck Hard Cider

Place of Origin / Brewer: Vermont, USA / Woodchuck Cidery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Cider / 6.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Providing one of the more eclectic drinks we’ve taken  in on this journey, Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin is just that. Limited to only two and a half hours time on the production line, it might prove fairly tough to get your hands on. Our first true medley flavor, this cider is designed to be everything you expect from the name, with a finish of pumpkin, designed to be served at a chilly 45 degrees. If nothing else, it is certainly a unique experiment in flavor.

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Packaging:

Given it’s short production time on the line, it’s apparent that the Cidery took the most economical shortcut approach to this label, eschewing even the regular full color Woodchuck label for a 70’s light show of orange and umber that’s totally loud.  Still, there is a sense of mystery and certainly, the label screams: “This is so rare, we didn’t even really bother thinking up a fancy package for it. We just wanted you to see it on the shelf”. – Mike

It would be extremely difficult to not see the bright orange packaging, even in a Vermont snow storm.  The label is pretty simple, but sometimes there’s elegance in simplicity. – Rick

It’s a bold, kind of in-your-face, neon orange that dominates the whole label.  It works well against the green bottle.  It also has a decent bio and food pairings as well.  It’s just too hard on the eyes. – Erich

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Color:  7

Pours up a dazzling crystal-clear brassy gold with tons of carbonation bubbles and a light fizzy head that snaps, crackles and pops like tempting bowl of Rice Krispies. – Tim

It’s a decent enough burnt orange that is transparent.  There’s no head to speak of with this one.  From it’s looks alone it appears to be light and watery. – Rick

M – 6.5 / T- 9 / B – 6 / R- 5.5 / E – 8

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Aroma:  6

The apple cider base is apparent on the nose, but there’s a bit more going on – a complexity that’s enticing. – Erich

A brisk burst of over ripe apples on a cool morning, with just a whisper of mulling spice and something else sweet I can’t quite place. It’s intensely aromatic, if not particularly pumpkin. – Mike

First sniff?  It smells like an energy drink.  I do not smell any of our usual suspects, no pumpkin no cinnamon or clove or allspice or nutmeg.  Second sniff?  It smells like a Twizzler. – Brittney

M – 7 / T- 4 / B – 5 / R- 4.5 / E – 8

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Mouth feel:  6

Pucker up, this is a sweet and sour cider super light body and super crisp acidity.  It bounces around the mouth sending you about two-steps away from sugar shock.  Big carbonation–this is what they refer to when they say ‘adult soda’.  I could imagine that if the mouth feel was heaver this would be as unpleasant as drinking apple juice concentrate. – Tim

It’s definitely the slightly syruped cider that you’d expect from woodchuck’s other offerings with a crisp bite to offset. It’s interesting to me how harmoniously those two contrasting feels seem to intermingle. – Mike

It confuses me as to what I am drinking.  Is it a cider or a sweet wine? Is it apple juice?  It feels cooling and refreshing and perhaps a little flat. – Brittney

M – 6.5 / T- 6 / B – 5.5 / R- 4 / E – 7

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Tasting notes:  6

Not too sweet, not too tart.  Crisp apple is muted nicely by the pumpkin, or rather the pumpkin is effectively sharpened by the apple notes – suffice to say they compliment each other well.  This is a devilishly good cider. – Erich

It’s actually what I would expect from a cider, it tastes fruity, sweet, and is refreshing.  It just lacks any discernible spices to qualify as pumpkin. – Rick

I really want to find pumpkin in here, but this takes like drinking a candy coated granny smith apple.  Amazingly, it’s got 6.8% ABV and I can’t find a note of alcohol in until it hits my chest and warms me up. Notes of flowers and honey are there and the sugar, while pretty aggressive, isn’t syrupy.   It actually works if you’re looking for a super sweet cider–I tend to like mine on the dryer side.  – Tim

Wow. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to think about pumpkin cider. Creamy yogurt and apple explode on the tongue, transforming into a slight cider spice, and then slowly collapsing into brown sugared squash. Quite the evolutionary trifecta. It’s saccharine exploits are sure to turn off some, but this is a truly unique flavor experience. – Mike

M – 8.5 / T- 5 / B – 5 / R- 2.5 / E – 9

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Finish:   5.5

It’s a little strange. I’ll give you that. Tart granny smith flirts with baked pumpkin, with the apple finally coming out on top. There’s definitely a bit of zip on the posterior, which the elevated alcohol content surely plays a part in. It reminds me a touch of mead as well. – Mike

It likes to pretend it goes down in a refreshing way but at the finish you realize that slick syrupiness is hanging out at the back of your throat. – Brittney

It has a slightly syrupy aftertaste despite it being a smooth drink.  It’s too fruity for my tastes and reminds me of a carbonated fruit juice. – Rick

M – 6 / T- 5 / B – 5 / R- 1.5 / E – 7.5

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Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Not sure if there’s any explicit attempt to spice this cider, so this is difficult.  Take this as a “pumpkin vs. apple” comparison: the scales are tilted over on the apple side. – Erich

Woodchuck can call this a Pumpkin Cider all they want, but I can’t find a single note of pumpkin in the mix and there are zero spices–which to be fair, they never advertise.  What I think they did here is toss some pumpkin into the mix in the end and said….viola!  Its a bit of a shame, because if they spiced this a touch, it might have worked–or at least cheated enough to qualify as ‘pumpkiny’ but right now, it’s just a hard cider with a different label on it. – Tim

This one is tough, as there doesn’t seem to be the usual intent of pumpkin pie that so many seem to be shooting for. Instead, Woodchuck shoots, and scores, on a product with no equal, and really, no peers to even compete with. That being said, the hints of each are fairly equal, if also fairly different from the status quo. – Mike

M – 7 / T- 1 / B – 5 / R- 1 / E – 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Just a bit on the sweet side, but controlled well. – Erich

Not dry at all, I keep going back to the fruit juice analogy.  It’s actually sweet from fruits not the typical spices we’re used to. – Rick

M – 4 / T- 4 / B – 5 / R- 2 / E – 9

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Even to someone who isn’t a cider fan, this was remarkably drinkable – not too sweet, not too tart, not too dry, not too heavy and not too strong.  Absolutely delectable. – Erich

I’m not a big cider fan and this brew solidifies my dislike.  It’s too fruity and overwhelmingly sweet to the point that I couldn’t finish it. – Rick

Only if I’m begging for a hangover. – Brittney

While a bit indulgent of the sweet tooth, the right mood could set me after 2-3 of these. Of course, with a limited batch, you might want to spread them out over the season. – Mike

M – 5 / T- 4 / B – 4.5 / R- 1 / E – 8

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Overall:  5.83

M – 6.67 / T- 5.33 / B- 5.17 / R- 3.50 / E – 7.92

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