I must admit, for a brief second Monday afternoon, my ego got the best of me. Perusing the Facebook page and the bevy of brewers we’ve friended since inception, we had finally achieved beer nerd-vana. “The Great Pumpkin Ale” it read. Sure, that could be any Charles Schulz fan paying tribute, but that couldn’t be. It was based in our hometown. It had to be us. Right?

Sadly, upon further inspection, our eyes (and perhaps our egos as well) had mercilessly omitted a crucial letter. It read upon deeper review “PLumpkin”. Now, had we been better acquainted with Shipyard Emporium’s in house brewer Ron Raike, it’s entirely possible he could have been taking a heartfelt shot at us. Reviewing beer isn’t exactly a low calorie affair. But we’re going to just try to forget our folly, and, well, drink this tap dry. We recommend you make it down to do so as well, and make it snappy, because as a part of their house brew series, Shipyard Emporium is certain to run out of this one before the week is out.

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Name:  The Great Plumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 7.2%

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.

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Packaging:

This is where we usually get to talk about the bottle, the design of the label and anything else that is included that the brewer might think is important.  With Plumpkin our “packaging” was our local Shipyard emporium.  Our “label” was a chalk drawn tap handle with small gourd atop.  Our “anything else that the brewer might think is important” was well, the brewer. – Brittney

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Color:  8

Dark and ominously cloudly ale with ripe orange accents and visible carbonated core forming a misty head. – Mike

Such a great dark amber color that is full of life.  There’s no head or lacing to this draft pour, but the bronze color is so bold it reflects the massive amounts of pumpkin that were used to make this brew. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 9

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Aroma:  8

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and allspice blend well with the defined pumpkin fragrance. But, the standout here is the inclusion of Mace (which is the outer membrane of the nutmeg seed–not the self-defense spray!) adding something very distinct and aromatic to the brew that other manufactures are definitely missing. – Tim

It all hits you right away, the roasted pumpkin, the slightly more complex spices, sweet caramel, a touch of alcohol and back to the roasted pumpkin again.  The impressive part is that is all goes one step further. Yeah we expect pumpkin but you can actually smell the sweetness and slight smokiness from roasting. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This ale is super smooth for having such a full bodied appearance.  There’s almost no tingle from the carbonation, so you’re able to taste everything this beer has to offer.  – Rick

Despite appearing pretty fizzy, it’s less bite and more slightly foamy cream with a lot of body mass. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  9

Poured on draft at the Shipyard Brewpub this in-house concoction leaves visions of wicked jack o’ lanterns dancing across my tongue making The Great Pumpkin Ale a nearly perfect blend of the spice that is prevalent in Pumpkinhead and the depth found in Smashed Pumpkin. Shipyard would do well to get this recipe into mass production for 2012.  The brewpub even goes one extra step, offering a fantastic crusty bread garnish with sweet caramel and savory chili dusted pepitas that when consumed in conjunction with the brew and a lush nutty depth to the overall experience. – Tim

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. – Mike

If you could take all the great things from a few of the other pumpkin beers that have been more popular year after year and put them all together in one, you would have Plumpkin.  You get the real pumpkin flavor that so many others strive for; you get a complex grouping of spices that doesn’t overtake the taste.  It’s sweet and clean and delicious.  – Brittney

There is so much pumpkin in this beer it almost sounds like overkill, but they’ve managed to really grasp a great pumpkin flavor without being overly sour.  The spices are delicate here as well, making it boldly sweet in a great way, without resulting in a spicy profile.  Vanilla and caramel come to mind as well, making for one tasty brew. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Finish:  8.5

Long and refreshing, the spice is abundantly present, but not unpleasantly so; particularly since it settles into smooth pumpkin at the very end. – Mike

A soft lingering finish with a touch of hoppy perfume.  Couple this with the garnish and you can really savor the strength of flavors on display in this beer. – Tim

This is one smooth ale.  It finishes sweet and smoky that compliments a great pumpkin flavor.  Paired with a roasted pumpkin seed and caramel garnish, the flavor profile becomes uniquely bold and smoky and overall, stands out in a crowd of pumpkin ales. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9.5

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Flavor balance:  8.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

With 18lbs of pumpkin roasted and added to the mash you better believe you can get the pumpkin in this small batch wonder.  But for me it keeps coming back to that special something added by the inclusion of Mace.  A very balanced beer with a meaty, profound body and a magnificent mixture of spices.  – Tim

The pumpkin is overloaded here, but with great flavor.  The spices are just enough to make it nice and sweet on the tongue. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 9

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

I went back and forth dry to sweet and sweet to dry with each sip.  Certain characteristics made me feel like it was sweeter and others tended toward dry.  In the end I went with balanced. – Brittney

The caramelization of the roasted pumpkins adds a definitive sweetness to the brew but never an overt syrupiness or stickyness that would demand a crisper or drier finish to balance it.  It just lingers for a moment and then fades away.  Well done. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 9.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

While a good bit heavier than most session beers, this offering is so damn tasty, I’m probably going to drink more than I should. This keg is certain to go fast. – Mike

There are so many ways this is a winner that it would be hard to find someone that couldn’t find something they like about it.  – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Overall: 8.25

M- 8.42 / T- 7.92 / B- 7.67 / R- 8.67

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