Gourds of Thunder WEB

Today’s offering comes from a, not so secret anymore, hot spot on any tour of Florida’s many blossoming and popular breweries. Nestled just a short way up the road from the old cigar factories of Ybor City(and closer still to their big brother), we find our destination: The Cigar City Brew Pub. Featuring a menu that stresses local farm to table offerings heavily influenced by Tampa’s Cuban and Italian populations, and of course, it’s own house brewed beer specialties (along with featuring many from Cigar City, and the new Cigar City Cider & Meadery), it’s pretty much a must stop lunch destination. House Brew Master Tim Ogden is no slouch either. Those familiar with Cigar City’s much sought after offerings will be more than familiar with two of their more popular offerings that he developed: “Tocobaga Red Ale” and the notorious Skate Park of Tampa Collaboration “Moat Water” (a 100 rated sweet stout brewed with actual moat water from the skate park and aged on skate decks). Suffice it to say, the man has the credentials to deliver (along with a grand champion award from the 2012 National Beer Tasting Championships). So, what we’re trying to say is, you should probably stop by if you’re in town.

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Name:  Gourds of Thunder Festive Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tampa, Florida / Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Gourds of Thunders stays true to the Cigar City Brew Pub Farm to Table mission, and features heirloom local organic calabaza pumpkins and butternut squash, along with chocolate rye, dark chocolate, coriander, allspice, and other spices. It is fermented with Tim’s go to house Belgian yeast “Forbidden Fruit”.

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Packaging:

I like the simplicity of this label. Boom, it’s in your face with the brewer’s logo and the beer’s name jumping right off the bottle to greet you. – Rick

This is a pretty basic label as the ale is not brewed for mass release.  A brewpub exclusive, it’s only available on tap or in bottles sold in the pub itself.  Intended to be paired with the gastro-pub fare served in their flagship location, the bottle features the standard Cigar City logo with a little side note giving the chef  and brew master a little love. – Tim

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Color:  9

This beer pours a super dark espresso color with a small, smooth, creamy head. It’s picturesque and iconically represents how a dark beer should appear. – Brittney

Anyone familiar with Cigar City’s Marshall Zhukov Imperial Stout knows this color well. I took the Led flash on my phone and held it directly on the glass. Nothing. It’s midnight, in a cave, in the furthest reaches of space black. The only hint of color is the head, a deep brown of roasted almond skin. – Mike

M- 10 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Aroma:  8.5

The nose is chocolate and vanilla, coffee and breakfast pastries; this serves a dual purpose, making me both equally hungry and thirsty. – Tim

The aroma that I’m getting here is roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate and pumpkin. There is a smell of spices that I can’t really place, but not your usual pumpkin pie spices, there is something different going on here. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  8

Super smooth, yet it still retains a full body with a creaminess that helps it glide right over the tongue. I am actually both impressed and surprised by the smoothness. – Rick

Heavy cream thickness, like liquid silk. If you ran your motor oil for 50,000 miles and then filtered it back to it’s original viscosity, you’d have something like this. It’s about as full bodied as they come. – Mike

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

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beer

Tasting notes:  9

There is a hefty dominance of chocolate and spice on the forefront here. Like, 98% cacao dark chocolate on the nasal retro hale after your first sip. I like the interplay of the spicing, and would be curious to see the Tim’s list of secret additions. It plays somewhere between thanksgiving dinner and exotic Indian cuisine flavors. It’s decadent, and as your mouth adjusts, butternut squash and floral yeasty coriander notes battle their way through the huge bitter roast Clash of the Titans style. – Mike

For some reason, brewpub exclusives tend to be the domain of mad scientist potions, and this ale is no exception.  It has to have one of the craziest spice profiles of anything I have had in a very long time.  It reminds me primarily of my mother’s homemade Thanksgiving stuffing, with significant notes of celery, cumin, rye seed, fenugreek, an d even a little iron (courtesy of chicken liver in the stuffing – and I don’t know what in the Ale!).  Masses of dark chocolate notes and dark roasted malt accentuate the caramelized pumpkin and squash.  It’s a meal in a glass. – Tim

When you first taste a beer in the environment that it is brewed in, magic happens. And then you immediately buy three bottles of it.  I’m a firm believer in so much more than our taste buds creating how something tastes.  Both taste experiences were top notch; The beer at the brew pub seemed to be a little sweeter and less earthy. The bottle pour is more vegetal and bitter which is welcome in a world of sugary pumpkin pie in a bottle beer.  Fresh tomatoes on a vine, espresso crusted anything, and bitter, bitter dark chocolate. – Brittney

Full bodied with all the right aspects of an imperial stout, I’m loving the dark chocolate and espresso backbone. There is something fruity also that seems to be black cherry, and at first I thought there was some banana, but that quickly subsided. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 10

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Finish:  8

This beer is in your face, big time. There is a solid 10 seconds of dark chocolate finish, and then a nice clean vanilla yogurt aftertaste that leaves the mouth dry. – Mike

Finish is smooth and dry with the chocolate presence being strongest here. There is a slight bitterness at the end, but just barely noticeable.  It may also have a hint of vanilla bean lurking around here. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance:  8

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

The gourd is all roasty and dense; the spice profile is insane with a level of complexity that I don’t think I’ve yet experienced in pumpkin ale. I feel like there is a laundry list of ingredients in this ale (one I’d like to see), but nothing overpowers anything else—although you can see it trying. – Tim

I would have to say that even with so many other factors of flavor here, the pumpkin and spice give each other enough room to display themselves without competing with one another. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

The great finish here really helps balance the sweetness by drying it up. At first it seems as dry as freshly ground espresso. As parching as crushed roasted cacao beans. It takes some time, but the sweetness eventually shines through. – Rick

The ABV is on the low end, and thus the ale carries sweetness in the body and bitter notes in the finish, which trails on for quite a while. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 8 / R- 8

         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

You try not to remember that multiple servings are sometimes not an option when it comes to Cigar City specialties and just thoroughly enjoy what you can get your hands on. – Brittney

If this is what you get when the gods are angry, then I am calling Thor out as the pretty boy dandy he is. It’s punishing to the senses. It will fatigue your tongue. And you will keep coming back because, let’s be real, you like it rough. Thank you sir may I have another? – Mike

M- 10 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 10

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Overall:  8.42

M- 9.08 / T- 8.16 / B- 7.75 / R- 8.58

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