Posts tagged ‘Aged’

Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac Scaled Edit

 

One of the styles we don’t see to often in the pumpkin category is the elusive, and often divisive, sour ale. Leave it to the good folks at Almanac Beer Co to follow up last years (and coincidentally one of our highest ranking beers to date) Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine with a new entry, Dark Pumpkin Sour. Though they share the same humble roots, gorgeous artwork, and barrel times, they couldn’t stylistically be any further apart! So, if you can find one, crack it open and compare notes with us, and if you can’t, you’re probably going to want to find one – so keep trying!

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Name: Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Sam Jose, CA / Almanac Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Dark Pumpkin Sour / 7.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Designed as a counterpoint to the sweet and savory items on a fall dinner table, Dark Pumpkin Sour is brewed with caramelized organic heirloom pumpkins from Bodega Bay, pie spices, and then aged in used red wine barrels for a year.

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Packaging:

Almanac should probably win the award for the most classically inspired bottling each year, with their wood carved motifs and calligraphic logo they inspire an old world appeal that really carries the legacy of colonial pumpkin ales into the new millennium. – Tim

There isn’t a lot more to say about Almanac’s design than it is simply a work of art. I would seriously hang both their iconic woodcut tree logo and the hop bine entwined “Farm to Barrel” designs on my wall proudly. They must really like it too because there isn’t a whole lot differentiating this from their other Pumpkin Barleywine offering appearance wise. A quick color change from orange to deep turquoise on the inch wide bottom label is the only major difference. But then, why fix what ain’t broke?

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Color: 7.5

Rich, deep mahogany and plum with glinting copper highlights where the light happens to pierce the shadows, and a tan head that fights to stick around. Murky like a bog. – Brittney

This sour ale pours a fluffy light brown head that billows over an opaque body. Root beer brown with some earthy tones. Looks quite impressive. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Aroma: 7.5

Pronounced Brettanomyces barnyard funk, cereal grains, pinot noir grapes, and dark fruits, meet a smatter of perfumed wood and slight porter-y roast. – Mike

This definitely has a great barrel aged nose to it, imparting some nice woody elements amongst a musty roasted character. Red wine is another bold aroma that starts sour, but has an enticing sweetness to it, and I can’t wait to try this beer. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Mouth feel: 7.5

A study in contradiction, the dark voluptuous body belies a crisp highly acidic sour ale, that explodes on the tongue causing your taste buds to detonate with the shock of an atomic warhead. – Tim

Instant pucker on the first sip. It’s like a barrage on the senses, but it’s a light sour tartness that envelopes the tongue while a wisp of sweetness tickles it. Interestingly, the medium body contains a full flavored punch that’s easy to drink. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Intense citric acidity with pepper, wood, and a zesty spice on the fringes. As it warms dry, dark wine qualities appear alongside notes of pine, vegetal summer squash, and touches of caramel and cinnamon. – Mike

Crisp and bright, the pumpkin is tamed and even lost a bit in the bright lemon pucker notes. As a complement to a thick, rich pumpkin pie with a dense homemade whipped cream this ale would cut right though the gluttony and refresh your palate between each bite. Hint of allspice carries the ale slightly into the holiday season, but as a drink designed to complement a dessert rather than replicate, it gets high marks for contrasting tendencies. – Tim

There are moments where the pumpkin is fighting to show through, but for the most part all I’m tasting is sour. As it warms the spices begin to appear along side roasted pumpkin seed and wood and I can see why they recommend having this with pie. It needs the savory sweetness as an accompaniment. – Brittney

It’s like a sweet and sour pumpkin with a light watery red wine swirl. Great compliments, but is very atypical for a pumpkin offering. As it warms towards room temperature, the beer mellows and I’m starting to discover more elements of sweet cinnamon within the oaken melange. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9

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Finish: 8

The finish is really were you get most of the flavor. The acidity begins to withdraw and pumpkin really comes through, almost as an afterthought. Roast and touches of caramel qualities as well as some woody vanilla. – Brittney

Blade mace and resinous cedar wood give way to a long, long, tart decay that settles out with echoes of the fork full of pumpkin pie that I never actually ate. Why, oh why do you elude me you devious phantom pastry? – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

While the pumpkin takes a backseat to the sour’s peacock levels of non-subtlety, the notes on the nose and the color imparted in the ale are not to be missed. The spice on display is mainly a function of the wine barrel aging and as such adds tremendous depth to proceedings. – Tim

The pumpkin here is less of a defined quality than it is a referential. This brew begs to be set alongside your dessert course at Thanksgiving, and the spice is far more, but still subtly, notable. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 6

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Tart, dry, and definitively sour. How dry and sour? The balance to the cabernet-sour is roast and wood. Sucka’s dryyy. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

This is a fantastic and complex sour. I only wish there was more to get better acquainted with. – Rick

Cutting though a turkey weighted, gravy laden and desert friendly feast, this ale would do well at your next family gathering. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.67

M- 9.00 / T- 7.67 / B- 5.92 / R- 8.08

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Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing

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First of all, we’d sincerely like to grant you our thanks and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and whatever holidays you might celebrate in the coming months. Rounding out our third year of reviews you’ve made us popular enough that we are buried in beers to cover, and since they’re becoming more and more scare on the shelves, we have opted to cover them in advance for next years season in hopes of bringing you more consistent coverage and getting you a lot more info early on as these brews start to hit the shelves.

Today’s entry is not particularly concerning in that regard as, if you don’t have it by now, you’re probably not going to get it until next year. But we did feel it’s coveted status would be a great entry for today, and we thank the almighty that we got our hands on a bottle. So gather round your friends and family, or maybe just a good meal and a good brew, and dig into one last seasonal review. From us to you, we give our thanks.

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Name: Good Gourd Almighty

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tampa, Florida / Cigar City Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almighty takes Cigar City’s ever popular Good Gourd (an imperial pumpkin ale that includes Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, and nutmeg) and finishes it out for some time in rum barrels.

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Packaging:

This is a special release barrel aged treatment beer, so the label is a bit derivative of it’s father brew, Good Gourd. It’s got some nice dark wood and autumn hues though, which certainly infer the bolder wood flavors I expect from this glass. – Mike

It’s not a far cry removed from the traditional Good Gourd packaging, but the “almighty’ stands out in a big way to help avoid confusion, settled against a backdrop of fall leaves, that even though CCB is in Tampa and probably never sees any ‘color’ still sets a festive mood. – Tim

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Color: 7

The way this beer sits in the glass demands omniscience. Fully opaque burnt caramel has fringes of an amber glow, with slim to no head. It is awesome and unassuming. – Rick

Cloudy brownish orange, with a perfect circle of thin semi sticky lacing and little to no carbonation. It looks like there is almost a freeze frame of sediment floating in the glass. – Brittney

M – 6.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

A heady nose with massive rum notes, the likes of which I haven’t seen since we cracked the Avery Rumpkin back in 2011. Oak and vanilla finish out the bouquet which displays no remaining signs of pumpkin or spice.  It smells intense and I’m not anticipating a little ‘shiver me timbers’ to go with my rum and pumpkin ale. – Tim

Sweet and creamy caramel notes mingle with some intense buttery fruit flavors. This is getting pretty complex already. It has a hot aroma that singes with rum at the nose, rounding out dry and oaken for the finish. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 9

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Mouth feel: 8

Slick and thick, medium bodied with just enough carbonation to keep you interested without an overwhelming presence of it. – Brittney

Some time in the barrel actual seems to have lightened up the body here, moving away from the syrupy origin of Good Gourd, and becoming much more smooth bodied with a light carbonation tingle. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Spiced Rum, treacle, dark fruits, and milk chocolate. This tastes a good bit like a Dale Degroff tropical pumpkin cocktail with a few extra dashes of Pimento Dram. It’s caramel coated pumpkin bread – beach side. – Mike

Welcome back pumpkin, what is lost on the nose is prevalent in the body, blending together with vanilla and cinnamon to deliver a drunken pumpkin pie extravaganza. With buttery crust notes and big malt flavors, the rum is held in check (but only barely) until the exhale permeates all my senses with full bodied flavor.  Pass the whip cream. – Tim

For as strong and intense as it smells it’s actually rather smooth in flavor.  You can tell that it’s got a Good Gourd foundation, but you can’t help but focus on the rum barrel aged accent and the alcohol. – Brittney

Based on the aroma alone I expected this to be super hot and over the top. It actually brings out complex flavors that really add to the experience going above and beyond the senses. It’s really accessible while boasting tons of flavor like banana, oak, cinnamon, rum, sugar, butter, all spice, and even bits of clove. – Rick

M – 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9.5

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Finish: 8.5

The finish is all rum, but it is hardly abrasive. It reminds be heavily of Velvet Falernum. There is a lasting sweetness with a spicy nip, and a bite of citrus / lime. Definitely a Floridian pumpkin beer. A couple of these and I’ll be boarding ships. Forcibly. – Mike

The dry oak finish compliments the mouth feel so well, it removes any implication of being too hot due to a high alcohol content. There’s still a touch of heat on the back end and the rum is quite noticeable. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 8

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8

The pumpkin and spices in the base beer were already mixed really well, and the fact that they still stand out after the aging is impressive. I would add that the addition of oak and rum flavors accentuate the pumpkin profile and propel this beer into it’s final form. – Rick

The interplay of the spice / malt / pumpkin / wood / and rum here is powerfully complex and very enjoyable. You can spend long minutes over each sip musing on the different flavors that seem to pop out and retract into the recesses of this glass. The only thing that keeps me from declaring it truly divine is how very forward the rum qualities are at times. It’s not an unpleasant flavor, but as the drink goes on, I begin to lose a bit of the pumpkin as a result. – Mike

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8.5

Quite balanced in this respect as the syrupy slickness and pumpkin tend to be sweet but the alcohol/barrel aged aspect brings the dry finish. – Brittney

Pronounced toffee like sweetness lend this ale a significant dessert aspect with only dry components coming on the close from the high ABV and the oak. – Tim

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

 

         Multiple Drinkability?  7.5

While I can appreciate treatments on beers and a bit of barrel aging, I probably wouldn’t drink much more than a glass of this. It’s got a very mellow sweetness that is well tempered by tannic acid qualities and the heat of the rum, but the intensity and alcohol makes it quite potent on the senses. – Brittney

It’s too heady and boozy to be sessionable. I’d rather drive up to some mountains, kick off my shoes and sip this sucker in a brandy snifter beside a roaring fire after a long day of snowboarding.  – Tim

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 10

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Overall: 7.92

M- 8.00 / T- 7.83 / B- 6.92 / R- 8.83

 

Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin (Crooked Line Series) – Uinta Brewing Company

Halloween is only a scant 15 days away, and if you’re like us, you’ve probably got a few ragers to hit in the next weekend or two.  To help accommodate your proclivities to rotten gourd punch, we’re going to be amping up our reviews to get as many halloween themed brews to ya before the holiday hits. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our updates by email, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Name:  Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin (Crooked Line Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Utah, USA / Uinta Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 10/31%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Oak Jacked is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed with Pumpkin and traditional spices (no specifics appear on the label). It’s then rested on Oak barrels to add bourbon and vanilla notes. A particularly cool aspect though, is that, along with all of Uinta’s other brews, it is brewed with 100% renewable power fed from solar and wind. There’s some great other green practices going on with this company as well, and for that, we applaud them.

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Packaging:

My favorite label to date! Finally, let’s get a local artist involved in our beer without it looking like an afterthought. Very clean in its execution, it has all the elements to help sell the beer as an oak aged pumpkin ale. Top notch. – Rick

This sucker is cranked to get you crunk. I mean, he’s pointing to the word “Jacked”. Someone call Jason Statham. – Mike

There is an old fashioned almost Steam Boat Willie-like pumpkin gracing the label on this bottle.  I love the use of the barrel image telling us so much more than just the name of the ale.  It’s cartoony and artistic without being childish. – Brittney

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Color:  8

Color me surprised, this ale pours up a crystal clear with a ruby red glow.  A thick, frothy, long-lasting, cream head provides for excellent retention and stunning lacing. – Tim

I’m loving the color on this one. It has a great color with dark copper notes that help accentuate a deep brown body. The body is pretty much completely opaque, and a vigorous pour will release a beautiful creamy head that settles to ring the glass. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

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Aroma:  8

Tons of oak and wood firstly followed by a smoother caramel sweetness.  Not a lot of spice but just enough to let you know it’s there.  The aroma runs the gamut of earthy, savor, sweet and (a touch) of spice. – Brittney

Roast sugar pumpkins, burnt caramel, and a nice oak tannin. It smells like a reheated pumpkin pie with blackened crust. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  7.5

A medium bodied but rich brew that warms the mouth with a lower carbonation. – Brittney

I’m definitely reminded of the Imperial status of this ale upon the first sip. As suspected from the aroma I find a strong presence of alcohol on the tongue, but without any harsh burning. It’s a bit bubbly allowing me to explore its sweet medium body. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes:  8

Boozy and opulent with notes of vanilla and oak. Rich and chewy like carrot cake with big, bold spices.  Lots of nutmeg and clove—with dashes of cumin.  The pumpkin is broad and full with a pronounced sweetness that envelops the notable alcohol content, back-end bitterness and a slight metallic touch.  – Tim

There’s a significant alcohol presence here that, combined with oak gives it strong notes of bourbon whiskey. Did I mention I love bourbon? The spice is very subtle, and finishes on floral notes, while a malt pumpkin base provides a nice burnt pie crust character. This tastes like my midnight snack the day after thanksgiving. – Mike

First sip is dominated by alcohol and malt with some spice. This beer goes straight to your head. If it wasn’t for the malt aspect I would question if this was a beer at all.  A few more tastes and the flavors really come alive with natural vanilla, spice and oak roasted pumpkin. – Brittney

The oak barrel introduction is a nice touch, only accenting the flavor of sweet ripe pumpkins without being too woody. There are some nutty notes as well that help round out this well nuanced full bodied ale. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Finish:  7.5

The. Longest. Finish. Ever.  Bitter and oaky and surprisingly semi-dry.  I certainly anticipated a sweeter conclusion to this ale, but the oak really shines here and helps balance it out.  But…seriously…I can still taste this beer. – Tim

It stings going down, that’s for sure. I like how the dryness on the back end helps it go down smooth. Here’s where it gets spicy and woody, but I can’t wait to take another sip. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 6

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

This malty pumpkin approach combined with the ABV lends itself to dunkel / dubbel territory, while the barrel aging tones the spice down to a pleasant detail. – Mike

Since this beer has such impressive complexity, it goes without saying (but I will) that the pumpkin to spice balance is pretty amazing.  What you miss from the pumpkin in the nose, you get in the body, but the ale is so imbued overall with the barrage of other components that had the brew master not been on top of his game, it might have ended up a muddled mess.  – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 8 / R- 5.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

This ale has a great malty sweetness and a great dry finish so the cloying aftertaste isn’t too noticeable. – Rick

This is a very well leveled bottle, and the giant ABV hides superbly in its character. There’s touches of bourbon sweetness, and the dry wood finish on the back end, that’s a bit like sucking the beer right from the oak stave. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7

The richness of the oak and malt are very tasty for one round but, at 10 + %, I’m probably not going for another. – Brittney

This beer is strong and tasty, but could I have more than one of these per sitting? Probably not. I would definitely revisit it though, because it’s a great pumpkin ale. – Rick

At a 10.31% ABV I don’t think I could drink another one of these in a sitting.  However, the ale is fascinating and intricate that I would be really interested to see what buying a few bottles and cellaring them would do. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

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Overall:  7.67

M- 8.42 / T- 7.92 / B- 7.25 / R- 7.08

La Parcela No.1 Pumpkin Ale – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, LLC

I apologize that this one is a little behind schedule (it was supposed to be Friday’s post). Last September Brittney and I were getting married. This one, we’re moving. When will we get our priorities straight about drinking beer?

Alas, though the house is packed up in boxes and becoming ever emptier, we still had a jolly good time taking down a draught of the old squash rot. Here’s how it turned out:

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Name:  La Parcela No.1 Pumpkin Ale.

Place of Origin / Brewer: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales LLC / Michigan, USA

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Sour Ale / 5.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  The joke is Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer, but the jokes on you, as now they totally do. La Parcela is a sour ale brewed and flavored with pumpkin, Cacao, and spices, then aged in Oak. The result is definitely individualistic. We ripped into Batch 865/866 which was bottled 8/17/2011, giving it a nice year of age.

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Packaging:

Everyone familiar with this brand knows their labels are works of art, but this is almost the perfect pumpkin beer label. Deep blue hues of fire lit twilight and jack o lanterns grinning in the darkness.  It captures all of the joy of trick or treating as a kid, without trying overly hard to be creepy or cartoonish, and it works so well. – Mike

Glowing jack-o-lanterns set against a setting skyline of hazy blues and greens, silhouettes of gnarled trees and scarecrows framing a perfect pumpkin patch on All Hallows Eve.  Jolly Pumpkin just flat-out wins as the best bottle illustration I’ve seen.  I want to frame it, buy a case of it to decorate my house, and walk inside of it and live there forever.  – Tim

The coloring on this label is awesome, the scene of the pumpkins, scarecrow and trees are creepy, haunting and beautiful. I also always enjoy a little quip from the brewers or brewery so the remarks concerning Jolly Pumpkins first and only pumpkin ale were enjoyable. – Brittney

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Color:  8

This brew has a very cool appearance. It’s dense and opaque with a slight ethereal glow to it. The coloration is a burnt umber yielding a yellow hue where the light hits it, with soft caramel notes in the center. Great head with big airy bubbles and decent lacing. Particulate is found effervescing after the pour  quickly settles to the bottom – it’s kind of fun to watch. – Rick

Golden-orange in color, this reminds me of a freshly juiced glass of apple cider. A solid ivory-tan head with a good amount of sediment throughout and the tiniest bubbles of carbonation you have ever seen. – Brittney

I think this is what Pumpkin juice must look like.  Hazy, yellow/orange with tons of sediment.  Like a spooky version of apple cider with a thick and velvety cream head that displays massive retention qualities and leaves the most amazing–and seriously longest-lacing trail I think we’ve yet encountered on a non-porter product. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Aroma: 6

Sour and vegetal notes are in great prevalence, with the slightest note of bitter dark chocolate. There’s a play of spice, but it’s extremely difficult to narrow against the sour ale. Perhaps mace and clove? – Mike

Musky and earthy, not overwhelming with pumpkin or spice, and just a hint of limey citrus. – Brittney

In case anyone missed the note (like I did) this is a sour ale.  I love a sour ale, when I’m in the mood, and frankly, this smells just like what you’d expect (had I been expecting it).  After being a bit jarred, the usual, tangy scents of sour and spice finally started to break apart with just a hint of apple and cinnamon desperately clawing to overcome the tartness that assaults my senses. But where is the pumpkin?  – Tim

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5

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Mouth feel:  6

Very airy and frothy with a good bit of a tingle on the tongue. It’s quite crisp and clean on the palette despite the full bodied appearance. It does have a bit of tartness though, which could be a little overwhelming to any novice of sour ales. – Rick

Given the boggy density of yeast and sediment, it’s actually a good bit on the light end of medium bodied, with a fizzy zip that really punctuates the tartness. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5

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Tasting notes:  5.5

If this wasn’t brewed in Michigan, I’d swear it must be the eastern European approach to pumpkin ale. Sour like a lemon with the intensive bitterness of raw cocoa nibs it’s massive and complex, but almost to a confusing point. It reminds me a lot of the head expanding beers made by Brasserie BFM, but it’s going to be a total mindf@%* for the uninitiated. If the joke was that Jolly Pumpkin didn’t make a pumpkin beer, then the joke is on us, because though caustic and interesting, this is not going to be identifiable as a pumpkin ale to the average soul. That said, I do really enjoy it, particularly as it warms, even if I do have to pretend it’s Halloween in Switzerland. – Mike

I will preface this bit by admitting, I’m not a huge fan of the sour style so my palette may not be accustomed to it’s intricacies. With that said, this brew is way sour making it hard to discern any pumpkin flavor. The spicing may be subtle, but it’s hard to notice over the heavy citrus influence that accentuates it’s tartness. – Rick

So, it is a seriously sour – sour. (It is Jolly Pumpkin after all)  I get a lot of pumpkin, some spice, a touch of chocolate smoothness and a lot of sour granny smith apple. – Brittney

Astringent notes of citric acid, sour cherries, apricots and apples, dried fruit and just about everything else–even hints of metallic rust–but nary a pumpkin (vegetal or roasted) to be found. Cinnamon and nutmeg are the most prevalent spices but I’m sadly disappointed in the overall flavor strictly as a pumpkin sour.  As a sour it’s perfectly fine, but if it weren’t for the incredible artwork on the bottle and maybe a touch of that spice, I wouldn’t pick this for a fall brew if it were standing in a line-up wearing a suit of maple leaves, holding a turkey in one hand and a pumpkin pie in the other.  – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 3

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Finish:  6

A wash of foam, and there it is. The huge bread yeast notes, the lingering dryness of wine — it makes me crave cheese.  The cacao notes also show here with the spice, leaving a creamy hazelnut in the back of my throat with a slight astringency that I would never notice in the powerful mix while it was still in my mouth. – Mike

After the initial pucker, this beer finishes clean, if not a bit bitter,with an apple cider vinegar snap. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

It’s a sour with some pie spice notes, together those two things work in pretty pointed unity, but it’s missing the key element of the equation–the pumpkin.  I’m sure it’s in there (for truth in advertising purposes) but it might as well not be for taste purposes. – Tim

It’s almost impossible to classify this one, as it defies the categorization. The spice in here is categorically buried in the multitude of directions this brew is going, and likewise, the sour nature of the ale has transformed the pumpkin into an entirely different, though intriguing, beast. – Mike

I’ve given low marks here because I’m not too sure that there is any spice in this ale. If so, it’s tough to pick out since the sour is so dominant. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 3 / B- 6 / R- 1

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

DRY. DRY, DRY, DRY, DRY, DRY. – Mike

I don’t expect, nor do I want sweetness–at least not pronounced sweetness–with a sour ale.  That said, I ‘d like a touch less bone-dryness at the close on this one to push my score a bit higher on the (broad) curve I’m grading this ale on. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  5

Not being a huge fan of sours to begin with, it’s hard to see myself drink more of these. I’m not thinking pumpkin beer when drinking this, and that is the biggest turn off for me. – Rick

This beer was fun to taste and a glass would be enjoyable but that would probably be enough sour for me. – Brittney

I don’t really session sours, and this is no exception.  And, as sours go, I’d drink it again, but this is The Great Pumpkin Beer Review and if I want to be honest – as things go -about its appeal as a pumpkin beer, I think Jolly Pumpkin should retire this one back to patch and stick to making the staple sour ales that have long proved their prowess. – Tim

I love the sour explosion that keeps driving me back sip after sip. It’s parching and wet all at once, and I do love a good sour. So if my pocket permits, I’ll be back. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 3.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 3

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Overall:  6.00

M- 6.83 / T- 5.50 / B- 6.75 / R- 4.75

Rumpkin (October 5, 2011) Annual Barrel Series – Avery Brewing Company

Every once in awhile, a beer comes along that separates the boys from the men. Well, actually no. With Avery, that’s pretty much every day. Known for their unusual brewing practices, and some intense high ABV beers, Avery doesn’t think inside the box, they punch their way out while watching Old Spice commercials on infinite repeat. So if you’re in a climate that’s a little on the chilly side this Thanksgiving, and you just need something to break down all the Tryptophan in your gullet, grab one of these bad boys and don’t be a turkey.

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Name:  Rumpkin (October 5, 2011) Annual Barrel Series

Place of Origin / Brewer: Colorado, USA / Avery Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Triple Ale / 15.90%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Limited to 512 cases (of which we’re sampling batch one) Rumpkin is brewed with Rocky mountain water, malted barley, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, hops, and yeast, then rested in oak rum barrels to yield spicy gourd, delicate oak, and candied molasses notes.

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Packaging:

Avery really impressed here, complete with gold foil neck and cap, and a specialty label reflecting the barrel slats, and woodcut pumpkin and rum jug with skull and crossbones adorning. They’ve also nicely incorporated a significant number of details to the labeling, including batch, cases production and bottling date, as well as the concept of the beer. Nicely done. – Mike

I love this pseudo-pirate styled label with the rum barrel branded with skulls and growlers and pumpkins and proclaiming the batch numbers (ours was No. 1) and the number of cases in the production (512) all of it speaks to Avery’s continued tradition of being a rebellious brewer. – Tim

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Color:  6.5

Cloudy molasses brown giving great credence to it’s rum referenced conception, and just a hint of burnt umber to give it an aging pumpkin feel. A mild fizzy head crowns it, and quickly becomes a menacing ring, hinting that this may be too hardcore for any frilly accoutrement. – Mike

Murky and swamp like.  I’m expecting Swamp Thing to crawl from its depths any moment now.  Even what little remains of the head and the lacing have a slight mud tinge to them. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 4.5 / R- 7.5

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Aroma:  6

Shiver me timbers with your burnt caramel sticky sweetness.  This beer is packing a seriously complex nose, with spiced rum, prunes and molasses kicking you square in the face with a ferociousness that actually frightens me a little (but in a good way).  However, I’m also a bit concerned that I haven’t found the pumpkin, or the pumpkin spices yet. – Tim

Just the smell of this is giving me a hangover.  It’s heavy on the alcohol right away.  Next is a blast of heavy dark molasses and raw oak.  Separately I love the smell of molasses and oak but this aroma is totally off putting for me.  I don’t even want to taste this. – Brittney

It smells like aged pumpkin might.  It’s musty and carries a thick molasses aroma.  I can tell right away just from the smell that the alcohol content is fairly high on this one. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 3 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  6

It seems light on the tongue, then it burns over the palate smoothly.  This one warms up quickly in the glass, and I think it’s the first pumpkin brew to leave my lips numb after a few sips. – Rick

On the very high end of medium bodied, you might as well tick this off in the heavy column due to the epic levels of sweetness on display.  However that being said, it’s not a tough swallow.  It’s got some carbonation burn and some absolute heat from the super high alcohol content, but I didn’t struggle to get it down.  It’s palatable. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 5.5 / B- 4 / R- 6.5

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Tasting notes:  6

The sweet pumpkin assaults you like a belligerent pirate, and a malty black strap molasses and chocolate cake field quickly follows, with a hint of oak on the backend, that should firmly suggest rum, if my puns and the label fail you. The spices are regulated into the caramel sweetness, reminding me more of spiced dark rum, than holiday cheer. – Mike

Tastes of Dark Brown Sugar, Sorghum, Spiced Rum, Allspice and Ginger, Sweetness that just teeters on cloying with deep chest warmth from the spirits.  The intensity of the beer overpowers any pumpkin that might be in there and the big alcohol content pushes this offering squarely into the Fortified (or Barley) wine category.  In fact, I’d seriously consider serving this ‘sipping’ beer in a Brandy snifter. – Tim

This one has a unique  flavor with an oaky aged-like quality.  It’s sweet like candy with a roasted pumpkin essence, but don’t let it fool you, this beer packs a punch. – Rick

To be fair, I’m not quite certain if I can get past the aroma and mouth feel to get to the taste.  But this is just not pleasant to me.  Nor do I feel that this has anything to do with anything that has to do with being anything like pumpkin ale. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 5 / B- 3 / R-  7

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Finish:  6

Fruity apple and black tea come in here, with just a hint of cinnamon. I’m most impressed with the handling of the significant ABV though, which offers a gentlemanly pound on the back, without offering the acrid burn you could easily come away with. – Mike

Long and defined by the deep malty sweetness and the trailing alcohol vapors—extending the profile for an eternity, which makes sipping this brew over an extended session an even more attractive option. – Tim

Relief. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 5 / B- 3 / R- 7

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Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

This ale has the usual spices in it.  Although, it’s heavy with a molasses and caramel flavor, this is the most pumpkin flavored ale so far. – Rick

I’m not sure I’d call it balance since I never found the pumpkin in there but I will give Avery props for attaining some semblance of harmony with the other components in this crazy strong brew they managed to bottle. – Tim

This is a dramatically different approach, with the pumpkin winning the race to the finish, but I particularly enjoy the way the spices are handled by relegating them to an aspect of rum flavor.

M- 6 / T- 3 / B- 3 / R- 5.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

It’s sweet, damn sweet in fact, but this is barley wine to the max territory, and it finishes exceptionally well, certainly worthy of acknowledgment as a finer example, rather than a seasonal frivolity. – Mike

It’s very much like melted candy, and it starts off sweet, but finishes dry. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 3 / B- 3 / R- 4

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Avery Brewing Company is based in Boulder, Colorado where the record low once reached -31.  Rumpkin might best be enjoyed as a sipping beer in the tradition of a cognac or as a replacement spirit to help stave off frostbite in a St. Bernard’s rescue barrel.  – Tim

This is 15.90% so lets be honest here, you’re only meant to have one. But on a cold night, this boy will keep you warmer than any of Brian Wilson’s northern girls, and in Boulder, Colorado, you can be damn sure that’s a welcome thing. – Mike

This is a great tasting pumpkin ale to sip on a cold day, maybe more like a frigid day.  The ABV is super strong, but doesn’t keep this ale from exceeding in flavor. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 2 / B- 3/ R- 6

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Overall:  5.83

M- 7.67 / T- 4.92 / B- 3.50 / R- 6.83

Kick (Lips of Faith Series) – New Belgium Brewing / Elysian Brewing

Today marks the start of our countdown to Halloween, bringing you a review a day from here on down ’til the gremlins show up on your doorstep. Starting out the run is one of the coolest bottles we’ve seen yet, and in the trick or treat spirit, a collaborative brew that may have been designed just to mess with your head in all the right ways.

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Name: Kick – Lips of Faith Series

Place of Origin / Brewer: Colorado, USA / New Belgium Brewing & Elysian Brewing collaboration

Beer style / ABV%:  Cranberry Pumpkin Sour Ale / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:   In an increasingly popular and frankly, quite cool trend, New Belgium’s Kim Jordan and Elysian Brewing’s Dick Cantwell have yielded this creative co-op as part of the Lips of Faith Series. It’s 75% ale brewed with pumpkin and cranberry juice, 25% ale aged in wooden barrels. It’s as interesting and different as it sounds.

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Packaging:

This is how you do it!  It seems like no one in the craft brewing world screens their label right onto the bottle.  But, Kick has it all there; gorgeous pumpkins glowing yellow and orange right from the beautiful brown bottle with an explosion of little red dots (to represent the cranberry element) all across the background. I’m confident, this is perfection…wouldn’t change a thing. – Tim

One of the cooler looking bottles so far, it boasts multiple playful jack-o-lanterns on the label.  There is nice work with the negative space as well, and the dominant red hue certainly hints at the cranberries, even if at first you don’t notice them in the background. – Rick

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Color:  6

A blonde almost wit looking ale, with a fraction of a lean towards the red spectrum, reminding us, yes, this has cranberry in it. Quite the conundrum, to the point, I’m not sure what I should be looking for. – Mike

In something of an anomaly for a pumpkin beer (or rather a Pumpkin/Cranberry mash-up), Kick shines a radiant gold with slight opacity.  Yields a 2 finger head from a moderately aggressive pour and maintains good retention with lacing that lasts for the duration of the drink. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5

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Aroma:  7

The aroma is pretty unique on this one, considering the use of cranberry in it’s production.  It has a sour body to the nose, which paired with the fruits and pumpkin give it a veggie quality.  It’s definitely bold and stands out from the crowd, but initial tests suggest this is a different pumpkin ale. – Rick

I get a lot of hops, which follow with an almost grassiness.  Then comes the sourness of the cranberry and slight note of pumpkin. – Brittney

A light nose with some small debris, and a strong suggestion of a sour ale. There’s definitely a cider note inherent as well, or really, an almost lambic sense suggesting this could be at once clean and neat, or kind of intense. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5

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Mouth feel:  6.5

It’s light bodied, and mouth puckering. Fizzy like ginger ale as well. In fact, cranberry ginger ale is pretty spot on for the texture, minus the soda syrupy after taste. – Mike

Right away I’m hit with the cranberry and a sourness that is well defined.  It is a bit watery feeling on the tongue and leaves behind a slight tartness. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  6.5

This beer ‘kicks’ taste buds you didn’t even know you had.  It’s one of the most (if not the most) unique that we come across thus far.  A crisp sour drink that could get you in trouble if you don’t remind yourself it’s 9%. – Brittney

Yea, it’s sour but that really shouldn’t come as a shock to any beer drinker worth their malts.  New Belgium is known for their embracing of European ‘Sour Beer’ productions and even though Kick probably doesn’t quite measure up to their better offering, it’s still decidedly in the same game.  Once you move past the nearly overpowering pucker aspect, the honey and orange notes pop along with the stated cranberry and the fresh pumpkin. – Tim

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

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Finish:  6.5

It’s got a lot of oomph and snap, and a long fruity draw that coats the throat right on down the gullet. That said, it’s got a refreshing cleanliness, not in the absence of flavor, but in the way smelling lemon in a clean bathroom might alert you that all is well. I do get an interesting hint of oak age in there as well, lingering in my saliva a few seconds after the swallow. – Mike

For the amount of flavor this beer brings to the table the finish is strangely short but strong and sour.  – Brittney

M- 5 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6

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Flavor balance:

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

This is a pretty much defunct category for this brew. There’s no spice intended, and the pumpkin is more an alternative source than a staple approach. Definitely a punk rock experiment, which some will like, and some will hate.  – Mike

There is no spice in this ale, but I believe instead the use of cranberry really balances the sourness and takes some of the bite off of the fermented pumpkin / gourdy body. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

It puts me in mind of drinking a dry white wine and with the sour flavors there is not much sweetness to be found. – Brittney

This isn’t cranberry sauce sweet people, this is bone dry white wine or brut champagne levels–however once again, based on style, that seems to be by design. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Too fruit juice sour for my tastes, but it is definitely worth the try if not just to study it’s traditionally brewed style. – Rick

Super easy to drink if you are a sour lover like me but with the larger bottle and higher alcohol content I’d stop with just one. – Brittney

As far as multiple drinkability goes, you could do worse pounding down a bomber of this. However, for a fall beer I think this misses the mark even with the cranberry focus.  The reality is–as with most Sour Beers in my opinion–the high citric content and the Warhead level of pucker make me want to pound ice-cold glasses of this in the high summer heat by a crystal blue pool, and not so much bundled up by the fire with a pound of turkey on my plate. – Tim

M- 3.5 / T- 5 / B- 63.5 / R- 4

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Overall:  6.25

M- 5.58 / T- 6.50 / B- 7.33 / R- 6.00