We know, we know, it’s been more than a second since our last post. We have some good reasons though. To add to our lists of delays like marriages, moves, honeymoons, and the like, we can now add babies and hospitalizations. Everyone’s ok now, we assure you, but it’s a little difficult to accurately review beer when you haven’t slept in a week or are on massive pain killers. (Though the reviews might be more entertaining).
We’ve crossed some wires both literally and figuratively, but we won’t abandon you before Turkey day cometh. So without further ado, here are a few, albeit tasty, impostors of pumpkin. These suckers are 100% pumpkin free despite their trappings. We won’t say that’s bad, and they are mostly pretty honest about it, but we felt it was our civic duty to let you know the truth.
Name: Jaw Jacker
Place of Origin / Brewer: Battle Creek, MI / Arcadia Brewing Co.
Beer Style / ABV%: Spiced Ale / 6.0%
Specialty Prep / Individuality: Jaw Jacker is an ale with spices (specifically cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg) added.
This was definitely one of our “duh” moments for the season. We all gathered to review this ale, quietly typing and scribbling away our notes (We don’t discuss the beers until after we have reviewed them individually). At the end, we all sat around the table and asked where the pumpkin was and, after digging on the internet a bit, found out it was “nowhere”. It’s still a little confusing to us why Arcadia decided to slap a giant fanged pumpkin ala “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” on the front of this one, but hey, we won’t complain about accidentally drinking an extra beer.
The glass greets you with a familiar burnished bronze and a nose of earthy spice and cherry cola fizz. In the mouth though, it’s a bit thin and quite bitter and earthy. This is one strange palate blower. While it’s not exceedingly clove, or cinnamon fire, the blend tends to come out as a soapy numbing pungency. Maybe they should put a little pumpkin in this after all to balance some things out.
Place of Origin / Brewer: Garland, TX / Lakewood Brewing Co.
Beer Style / ABV%: Spiced Dunkel Lager / 5.0%
Specialty Prep / Individuality: Punkel is a Munich Dunkel style lager based on the flavor of the dessert pumpkin pie. It is spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and includes no pumpkin.
There is an unfortunate mentality that comes out of the mouths of many of pumpkin beer’s critics, chief among them being the idea that “Pumpkin imparts little to no flavor”. We here at the GPBR simply disagree with that mindset, but we won’t hold it against Lakewood, we just aren’t sure why you’d set out to make a beer based on pumpkin pie and skip the pumpkin. That said, there are some nice things going on in and on this bottle!
The first impression is a sleek design job on the label including a wooden barrel stave logo (that is close to our hearts and our blog format, a nice selection of pairing recommendations (Smoked Gruyére! Good call!), and yes, the name is quite clever.
This tasty brown ale has gorgeous ruby highlights, and a nose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger over a hearty malt sea. In fact, this really does come quite close to achieving a pumpkin pie vibe, with a delicate pie crust body that’s malty and exceedingly well balanced. It’s smooth, silky, and makes a great session lager for those who can’t decide between Oktoberfest or Halloween.
Name: Sweet Yamma Jamma
Place of Origin / Brewer: Minneapolis, MN / Indeed Brewing Co.
Beer Style / ABV%: Sweet Potato Ale / 5.5%
Specialty Prep / Individuality: Sweet Yamma Jamma is brewed with 480 lbs of sweet potatoes in the mash along with European malts, and then canned yams and spices are added to secondary fermentation to infuse flavor.
We can always appreciate a cool can design, and you can be assured that any brewery that includes schematics of its brewing system on their website is into the details. The sweeping, epic font of the name elicits 70’s funk throwback, and the beer delivers on said funk. This is like the exploitation film of pumpkin ales.
On the red side of orange with a thin white head, the first thing that pos into your head is sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Savory vegetal yam plays against a good bit of biscuity malt, a hint of ginger and pepper, and a punch of brown sugar to sweeten it up a notch. This doesn’t play at being a pumpkin ale so much as it passes you the wrong dish when you reach for one. And for that we applaud it. It’s clean, refreshing, and though it’s a bit one note, it’s a good note. Sweet Yamma Jamma, Indeed.