Some of you may be cursing right at the title. Yeah, we know this one isn’t exactly the small brewer beer, but we have a mission here, and in that mission, we’re reviewing all pumpkin beer. So hold on to your hats for a back to back double feature of two of the mainstreams most acceptable brews, and their take on pumpkin ales. We’ve put our biases aside, and boldly gone where, well, likely millions have gone before…. FOR SCIENCE!

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Name:  Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Missouri, USA / Shock Top Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Wheat Ale / 5.2%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Shock Top is our first foray into the unfiltered Belgian style wheat ale category, making this its primary distinction among the other ales we’ve visited thus far. In addition to their usual brew, they’ve also added ripe pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Additional instructions as to how to properly pour to ensure a proper blend are a nice touch as well.

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Packaging:

This is a very cool label.  It takes the classic Shock Top brand with it’s blend of refined, symmetrical design featuring the labels Mohawked iconic orange slice and adds in a smattering of wood cut pumpkins to signify the season. I know it’s not terribly cutting edge, but it really is a really great label for a brand that wants to rebel a little from it’s Anheuser-Busch corporate parentage. – Tim

When you are a company like Anheuser-Busch with a product like Shock-Top you don’t really mess around with brand identity.  This is a bottle of Shock Top decorated for the Thanksgiving holiday. – Brittney

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Color:  6.5

A neon orange clear ale with a wheaty sediment that I can actually watch spiral down the glass to create a near opaque cloud. – Mike

This beers base is Belgian-style wheat ale so its coloring takes an easy turn toward a bold pumpkin rind orange.  It looks highly effervescent and slightly cloudy, as it should being unfiltered and also carries a quickly dissipating head and somewhat solid lacing. – Brittney

M- 5.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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Aroma:  5.5

A light nose of fresh cut pumpkin and a noticeably subdued spice structure–the beer smells weak and seems to be missing the key floral elements typically found in traditional wheat beers. – Tim

Nutmeg, Clove, and traditional wheat ale compliment sweet anise and citrus notes, with just a smattering of pumpkin guts. – Mike

M- 6 / T- 4.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 6

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Mouth feel:  5

There is a sharp carbonation and even though it’s very light in body, it has a nice fluffy texture as it foams across the tongue. – Rick

The carbonation I noticed upon pour had settled slightly and left me with little to battle the initial syrupy feel.  It’s heavier than I expected and/or was hoping it would be but smooth nonetheless. – Brittney

M- 4.5 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

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Tasting notes:  5.5

This beer vexes me, I rather expected it to taste like a standard Shock Top but with pumpkin spices in the mix.  Instead I get very little spice aside from a touch of cinnamon.  There’s more vegetal raw pumpkin  for brightness and acidity and a sweet maltiness that adds a touch of depth as a stand out.  But, what’s really strange about this brew is that it also seems to be missing the essential ‘wheatiness’ that should be at the forefront of the brew. – Tim

Pumpkin and cinnamon flash nicely on the front end, but quickly settle into a nuttier ale with crusty pie notes. – Mike

It’s not amazing.  Of course it’s not.  It’s Shock Top.  I like Shock Top.  I breathe a sigh of relief when a server (at a not so specialized restaurant) gets to the end of the unfortunate beer list to mention Shock Top because at least I know there is something I can enjoy with my meal on the menu.  However, this is not that.  Not only does the pumpkin and spice only come when you are about half way through it doesn’t come nearly hard enough.  – Brittney

The pumpkin is balanced really well here and the subtle spicing really propels this brews flavor profile.  This is a good entry level pumpkin ale to the beginner because the spices are a great accent instead of taking center stage. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 5 / B- 5.5 / R- 6.5

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Finish:  5

This is actually the most appealing aspect of this brew to me, particularly since after the intial sip or two, the pumpkin seems to vanish more and more under the lingering wheat finish, that is long and pleasing, but not decidedly autumnal. – Mike

Moderate to long hoppy finish that I would expect but again something is missing–they seem to have lost the pumpkin in here. – Tim

The spice goes down real smooth with a nice tingle st the end.  The real flavor comes on the exhale after each swallow. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

This spice levels here are so low-key I’m not sure anyone would know if they just forgot to add them to a batch. – Tim

The subtle spicing is great and really lets the pumpkin flavor shine here.  – Rick

The pumpkin does showcase a bit more than the spice, but what we have here is, at best, a mild theme-y brew that depends heavily on a proper pour (and is targeted to an audience unlikely to supply it). – Mike

M- 4 / T- 3 / B- 5.5 / R- 8.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Even though it finishes a little on the dry side I will say the majority of this beer can be considered sweet. – Brittney

Pumpkin Wheat maintains a nice unassuming sweetness and ends up in the dry dock with a more conventional finish.  I think that works well here because recent traditions dictate that the imbiber would be adding some Orange to the mix to uptick the sweetness factor–I’d venture to say most sane people won’t be squeezing any pumpkin into the brew this time of year to compensate for the lack of orange.  So, a touch of sweetness really satisfies here. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

I can drink multiple pumpkin beers and I can drink multiple Shock Tops but I don’t think I can drink multiple Shock Top Pumpkins. – Brittney

It’s smooth, pleasant, and infinitely easy drinking. The problem is, it’s barely a pumpkin ale, and while I get that Shock Top probably isn’t going for shock value, it’s not bold or deviant enough to warrant anything but a faux hawk on the label. – Mike

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Overall:  5.58

M- 5.25 / T- 4.92 / B- 5.92 / R- 6.00

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