Posts tagged ‘Autumn’

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

O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer – O’Fallon Brewery

OFallon

We had a brief lull in events there for a moment, but now that it’s a stones throw to October, we are back and kicking into full steam. Today’s competitor is a cult classic in some parts, and a major competitor for pumpkin party beer across the country. So with out further ado, lets dig into it!

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Name: O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer

Place of Origin / Brewer: O’Fallon, MO / O’Fallon Brewery

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 5.60%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer is brewed by adding 136 pounds of real pumpkin to a mash of pale malt, caramel 90, and white wheat, which is lightly hopped with Cluster hops. Once finished it is spiced with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity and O’Fallon, with its Baseball Team-styled brewery logo, delivers. Featuring a skewed Jack O’Lantern and a few fall leaves floating against a black backdrop, the label is clear and concise but sadly lacking any expansion on the style, spice content, or even the ABV. – Tim

I’m gonna be honest here, this label -while unfailingly communicating it’s contents- ain’t sexy. I’m sure it’s tradition, but it might be time for an update. – Mike

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Color: 5.5

Lots of action right away from the carbonation, leaving a nice billowing head. It’s a super clean transparent ale that gives light to a reddish pale and golden malt glow. – Rick

This looks quite a bit more appealing than the label. Gorgeous clarity, nice carbonation levels, and a pillow top ivory head that sticks around for a good bit. An autumn amber the color of turning leaves. Now if only it wasn’t 97 degrees outside… – Mike

M- 7 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 4

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Aroma: 6.5

Musty, earthy pumpkin at first whiff, followed by the sweetness of sugar and touch of cinnamon spice. There’s a slight roasted caramel malt quality as well. – Brittney

A bit of brown sugar and some cinnamon really blend well to concoct a nice sense of homemade apple pie crust. A touch of raisin is fairly detectable as well as some toffee. – Rick

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

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Mouth feel: 5

Light and slightly slick but not as snappy as I would have guessed from the amount of carbonation when poured. Definitely settles into almost a flatness. – Brittney

Tongue burn from the high carbonation gives way to crisp ale with a bright but slightly thin body. – Tim

M- 6.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 5 / R- 5

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Tasting notes: 6

Cinnamon and Nutmeg soar to the forefront with sweet cream and pumpkin following shortly behind. It’s a pretty spot on semblance of canned pumpkin pie that’s been topped with a dollop of whipped creams, and has a biscuity – graham cracker crusty back. – Mike

With an overall pumpkin pie profile of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove the mixture lacks any real substance which unfortunately matches up with the body. Toasted malt and some hop bitters try to work their complex magic but the lack of any real presence gives the ale more of a late-summer lager profile and not enough fall goodness. – Tim

This one is not overwhelming in any category. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove are all there but only the cinnamon really lingers making it fairly dominating. There is a bit of pumpkin serving as a solid foundation for the spices, but it’s a bit sweet for my tastes. – Brittney

I enjoy the subdued mix of flavors here. This beer has some nice qualities but it seems closer to a fruit beer or a cider than a pumpkin ale. The minimal pumpkin allows for some cinnamon, apple, and raisin flavors to take front row. It isn’t too exciting, but I find this beer could make a nice introduction to the style and broaden ones appreciation for pumpkin ales. – Rick

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

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Finish: 6

Lingering pumpkin sweetness as the spice fades and a touch of the more bitter side of molasses roast and clove give it a drying quality. Fairly lengthy, but pleasing enough. – Mike

This is a very smooth and watery beer with a slightly bitter finish that caps each sip well. It’s easy to drink and light on the palate making it very session-able. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

The pumpkin is MIA but for the illusion presented in the spice profile. Which, while on paper seems like a fine balance of pie spices, sadly it just doesn’t amount to enough overall bang for your buck. – Tim

There is a solid presence of malt, which lends some presence to the pumpkin, but the spice is very prominent here, making it feel a bit out of check. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 4 / B- 8 / R- 7

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

It seems to start with unced sweetnesss, but as the glass warms a pleasant, subtle complexity begins to emerge along with breadier malts and a spicy bite. – Mike

Well done. This beer seems like it could lean towards cloying at any moment and completely ruin it for me, but there’s a nice balance here akin to dry apple juice. The watery body and mouthfeel play a big part in keeping the sweetness at bay. – Rick

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

  • Multiple Drinkability? 6

While you’re still waiting for the mercury to drop below the boiling point, you could easily put away a few of these ales. The inoffensive 5.5% ABV won’t wreck your afternoon, but with so many other great pumpkin beers on the market, this one is hardly worth running out and stockpiling. – Tim

In a world of gigantic cloying imperial pumpkins, this is a pretty respectable session brew. Not too heavy for milder autumns and enough weight for cooler climates, it plays to both the refreshing and pleasantly boozy crowd. Compared to others in it’s class, it’s nicely balanced and has some notable pumpkin which is a change of pace for anything under 10%. This is an excellent gateway beer to the style. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 4 / R- 6

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Overall: 6.00

M- 7.16 / T- 5.42 / B- 5.66 / R- 5.58

Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac

If our first two reviews this month are any indication, California is killing it when it comes to craft beer and the farm to table movement. Further, if this beer is par for the course, Almanac Beer Co. is poised to quickly rise to the forefront of said movements. A pair of “gypsy” brewers (or for the uninitiated, brewers who don’t own their own brewery), Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan brew through the good faith of using other local brewing equipment. As a result, Almanac is the definition of “small batch”, creating exclusive seasonal releases that incorporate local ingredients, and flies off the shelves in no time. Already well decorated in accolades, we weren’t surprised that this was a good one. We were surprised at just how good it was though, and just how hard it was to get our hands on it!

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Name:  Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm to Table Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: San Jose, California / Almanac Beer Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Barley Wine / 12.8%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Almanac Pumpkin Barleywine is made with 500lbs of hand-roasted heirloom pumpkins from La Tercera Farms in Bodega Bay. The caramelized gourds were added to their American Barleywine and aged in brandy barrels for a year, then the resulting concoction was blended with a freshly brewed spiced barleywine.

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Packaging:

The design on this bottle is amazing. Well thought out from top to bottom, informative, clean, and simply breathtaking. From farm to anything seems to be on everyone tongues lately, and with good reason. Farm to Barrel is proudly expressed on the side of this bottle as well as a gorgeous sketch of a tree I would gladly enjoy a pint under any day. – Brittney

My favorite label to date. This one balances beauty and professionalism with charm. Maybe a bit of design porn, what with all the sexy type, but the label just enhances the experience of this great beer and shows the level of appreciation that went into making it. – Rick

A gorgeous postage stamp visage which shows careful consideration on the part of the brewers to impart both information and aesthetic appeal in a design so cool, I would consider framing it.  I hear they grow these pumpkins in Bodega Bay…I was half-expecting some “Birds” on the label.  You Hitchcock fans will understand what I’m talking about. – Tim

Perhaps the sexiest beer bottle I’ve ever seen, this baby features detailed wood cut hop bines accented by metallic gold and ivory lettering a font designer would die for. A sleek and narrow lower paper trailer label encircles with details about the specific bottling, and a giant tree mandala, tractors, and the state silhouette remind you that this is California, Farm to Table and “Beer is Agriculture”. (Also, it says that on the bottle.) – Mike

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Color:  8

            This takes your Belgian dark and adds gorgeous red undertones. It looks thick, decadent, and overtly autumnal. –    Mike

            Nearly opaque, the body is full and inviting. It’s awesome copper and burnt umber coloring is accentuated with a light fuzzy head on top that leaves behind a bit of legging as well. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8.5

Wow, this is a sensory overload of the highest order, with black fruit, brandy, molasses followed by intense malt and vanilla notes.  I want to live inside this…I’m trying to imagine how amazing this would smell if you warmed it up. – Tim

Smells just as it states, very much like barley wine & barrel aged beer would smell, high in alcohol and earthly. Although like any good fall vegetable should, the sweetness is brought forward from being caramelized just a touch. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  8.5

            Creamy. At 13% that should read boozy, but it’s lush and gorgeous, and the only hint of fire is on the swallow. – Mike

It has a full body, but it stays smooth as each sip spills a plethora of flavor over my tongue. It doesn’t burn too much at first, slowly giving way to the inevitable bite of a strong beer. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes:  9

            Warm brown sugar, caramel, an explosion of malt, pumpkin, and spice tamed only by wood, and a finish of vanilla, apricots, violets, and cognac. This is what the flame on the tea light inside your jack o’lantern must taste like after a round of Brandy Alexanders. – Mike

Boozy and sweet, rich with raisins and prunes, caramelized pumpkin, dark molasses and brown butter, vanilla and clove, it dances across the palate with waves of flavor, this is a meal, dessert, and after-dinner drinks in a single glass.  It’s like drinking pumpkin pie. – Tim

I like to believe that our palettes are ever changing.  There was a time that I didn’t really have a taste for anything that mentioned barrel aged or barley wine. This has nothing to do with a lack of love for things that come from barrels. Trust me.  For it’s style, this one does it well, it doesn’t feel or taste too heavy and it allows for the earthy elements as well as the care in brewing and aging to shine though.   – Brittney

As expected, the style really dominates the backbone of the profile with some awesome pumpkin qualities to make this brew shine. I’m almost overwhelmed by the nutty vanilla bean that introduces me to a cinnamon topped buttery crust, there’s so much going on here! – Rick

M- 10 / T- 9 / B- 8.5 / R- 9

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Finish:  8.5

The finish is the reminder that this beer has spent some time in barrels; the oak and smoothness of the vanilla notes stay with you, as does the thickness of the mouth feel. Final reminder is the12.8%. – Brittney

Long and sweet, with bitter burnt caramel notes and linger of dried fruit and oaked brandy notes.  It doesn’t linger nearly as long as I would like it to, but to be fair I’d like it last forever, so grade that on whatever curve you want. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance:  8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

As usual, anytime pumpkin in any state can shine through a spice presence, I call balance. Blending the ales is a genius move for the style. – Brittney

Everything meshes really well, and the pumpkin flavoring is grand. I’m starting to think that complex brews like this one really capture all the nuances of a pumpkin beer, and are the perfect vessel for this gourdy imbibement. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 8

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

It’s Barleywine, it’s not meant to be dry.  The high ABV and bitter burnt sugar notes do less to curtail the sweetness and more to extend its enveloping character. – Tim

This is the only minor space for fault. It is pleasantly sweet, but so bold and luxuriant that it is almost overwhelming. Almost. – Mike

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  9

If I could drink more I would. This beer alone warrants a trip to the west coast in search for more of Almanac’s offerings. – Rick

At 12.8% ABV the intensity of this ale is more than enough for a single 375ml serving.  That said, this is a stockpile-level spirit and I would gladly cellar as many of them as I could get my hands on.  In fact, if I see it at a store, you better get out of my way. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 10 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

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Overall:  8.50

M- 9.00 / T- 8.67 / B- 7.92 / R- 8.42

Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale – Foothills Brewing

For the majority of you, it’s a three day work week that involves lots of food, and a visit to your family. We know that last part tends to bring out the drinking to cope gene in all of us, so we decided to review a tight, light ale that you could happily share with your father-in-law while guzzling far past the legal limit and watching the Lions be mediocre.  Just remember to sleep off that Tryptophan coma before you hit the road.

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Name:  Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: North Carolina, USA / Foothills Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.3%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Cottonwood starts off with North American and British Malts, adds real pumpkin, and is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger to craft a crisp and dry classic style pumpkin ale.

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Packaging:

Simple and focused on a modern text layout, with a view of the Appalachian Foothills in full autumn splendor. – Mike

With a bronze ‘slick’ label this bottle almost at a distance looks like it’s made of plastic.   And while the primary label might seem less than inspired with it’s simple branding I do appreciate the secondary label’s wealth of information about the ale, including some low SRM and IBU numbers that tell me right off the bat this is going to be a lighter beer with very little hop character. – Tim

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Color:  5.5

There’s nothing too fancy about the appearance of this ale. An orange hued amber has a subtle head that rings the glass, but with minimal lacing. It’s semi transparent and looks like it may be light in the body. – Rick

A crystal clear bronze-orange with some active carbonation trails and a fast & fizzy head from a very aggressive pour that vanished within seconds leaving zero lacing. – Tim

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

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Aroma:  6

I could smell this one from across the room. Squashy pumpkin, sweet pumpkin pie spices, and a hint of malt come together to form a quintessential pumpkin ale aroma. – Brittney

A nice bit of spice with lots of ginger and cinnamon, along with sour pumpkin and malty cereal grains. Subtle like day old pie crust. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  6

Wow! This ale is beautifully creamy with a good medium bodied feel to it. I thought it was going to be watery but was shocked at it’s build. There’s no bite or any harsh byproducts of the ginger and it goes down very smoothly. – Rick

Thin and a touch watery, with a insubstantial body.  The carbonation is vibrant and lends itself to a standard tongue-tingling sensation. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes:  6.5

There’s a lot of ginger crispness, followed a cinnamon smack, and some malt. It reminds me heavily of an autumn cider, and while relatively insubstantial, there does seem to be a tiny bit of pumpkin lurking in there. – Mike

Pumpkin and cinnamon fair well in the ale with a malty sweetness that’s not nearly as overpowering as the bouquet could lead one to believe. A hint of spicy bitterness on the back end and the fragrant heat of ginger. – Tim

The aroma really had me expecting a little more flavor than what this one delivers.  I feel like it would be a great accompaniment for a fall meal and not compete too much with other flavors.  The spices are nice in that they don’t wreck your palate but you can still pick them out.  The pumpkin is there too, but also slight.  It’s traditional and delicate and that is not always a bad thing. – Brittney

I was taken by surprise with this little guy. The pumpkin pie sweetness makes it delicious, and the ginger has a light presence that really rounds out the beer nicely. There’s a touch of clove that balances the cinnamon and nutmeg sweetness as well, so they’re not too overwhelming. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 8

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Finish:  6

The finish was as expected, it does not linger but if you wait for it you almost get a touch of a sour tingle at the very end. – Brittney

I think the ginger might be the shining ingredient here. The way it dries the finish and allows for the pumpkin to stand out is masterful. With all the sweet spicing here, I thought it would be too cloying, but it finishes dry and tempts you for another sip. – Rick

M- 4.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 6 / R- 8

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Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6.5

The spice is not obnoxious, but it’s the first thing in your face without much to back it up. – Mike

The ale is actually rater well balanced between the pumpkin in the body and the cinnamon/nutmeg nose.  I really think the heat from the ginger adds an interesting twist to this ale.  – Tim

M- 5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

I’m a stickler for beers that are too sweet or too much like a dessert. That being said, I think this brew strikes a great balance in this department that not many pumpkin ales can claim. – Rick

It’s pleasantly dry, though it build’s through the glass. Fortunately it’s very swig friendly, which helps, as the ginger becomes a bit parching, so you’ll need that next sip. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 9

–         Multiple Drinkability?  5.5

It’s a nice beer but not something that would keep my attention for more than one. – Brittney

Hardly offensive, this could be a nice beer for a big meal if you wanted to skip the heavyweight high alcohol crowd. Myself, I’m missing a little of the oomph and bold declaration, which makes me feel it would get lost in a round of other beers. In other words, it’s a bit of a snooze fest. – Mike

M- 3.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 5 / R- 9

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Overall:  6.08

M- 5.08 / T- 5.42 / B- 6.41 / R- 7.50

Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur – Pernod Ricard

Name:  Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur

Place of Origin / Distiller: New York, USA / Hiram Walker (Pernod Ricard, USA)

ABV%:  15%

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It’s that time of year again. You know, the one where all the ominous holiday schnapps hit the shelves?  Fear not. We are here, and our livers are willing to take a beating in order to take the guesswork out of the multitude of dessert flavored liquids at your disposal.

Today’s order of business is Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, and if the sheer number of recipes for Pumpkintini’s kicking around online is any indication, you’re going to end up in the same room with it sometime soon.

Now, we’ll be the first to admit that the artificial orange color is a bit off-putting, however, the balance of this is pour is extremely tasty. For those of you looking for something that imparts no alcohol flavor, it provides a bit of pumpkin with a solid spice finish. Taken straight it’s incredibly smooth, if overtly fruity. It does however, succeed in avoiding the sugar saturated liqueur vibe, and acts nicely as a flavoring agent for your preferred cocktail.

We were also impressed with the recipes provided by Hiram Walker, as the liqueur added just enough pumpkin flavor to make our concoctions shine. Straight from the label we tried the Classic Pumpkintini (a straight vodka and liqueur pour), The Jack O’tini (a pumpkin and ginger twist on an Irish whiskey sour), and an Autumn Russian (essentially a pumpkin white Russian, though this is where the product really shined brightest).

All in all, Hiram Walker’s Pumpkin Spice liqueur adds a nice seasonal touch to a bevy of classic cocktails. So if you’re looking for a Fall twist for non-beer drinkers, simple mixology fun, or just really love the hell out of some pumpkin in your drink, you’ll be glad to know that Hiram Walker hits shelves September 15th.

Autumnation (limited release 2011) – Sixpoint Brewery

Have you all returned from your turkey and pie comas for another round? Admit it, in the back of your head you were trying to pick out the spices in your pie and rating them like a beer weren’t you? Or was that just us…?

With 2011 touting their first autumnal release Sixpoint Brewery is already making waves. Having just started canning their product for the first time this may, it may take a little searching to track down, but this brewery seems to be on the right track, with a focus on unique brews, new spins on classical elements, and some excellent marketing strategies, we’re definitely looking forward to what’s to come. I mean, how many beers have a you tube trailer? (You can catch a link at the bottom of this review).

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Name:  Autumnation (Limited Release 2011)

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Sixpoint Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Wet Hopped Pumpkin Ale / 6.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Autumnation is brewed with pumpkin, ginger and white pepper, then wet-hopped with freshly harvested Citra hops, often less that a few hours old, from the oldest continually farmed hop farm in the country. Canned pumpkin is  added directly to the boil. In addition, 800 pounds of fresh harvested Amarillo wet hops are added to secondary fermentation.

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Packaging:

This is our first offering in a can and I’m swept away by the crafty appeal they’ve built in. From the metallic rust orange, with reddish accent line work,  the bold western feeling six point star mark, and a chunky text style and pumpkin wrought in chocolate brown, it’s one of the prettiest beer cans I’ve ever seen. Being a little taller than the rest doesn’t make it any less handsome either. Top it all off with a quote from Robert Browning Hamilton, and you just well may have one of New York’s finest. – Mike

It’s sort of fascinating that beer in a can has become such a novelty in the craft beer world, but Six Point is representing the crusher with this single pint ‘tall boy’ in a copper-hued can with stars and decals and an aesthetic that looks like  it’s channeling Shepard Fairey. – Tim

Unusual in this realm being that it comes from a can, this pints design doesn’t put a ton of importance on the pumpkin aspect other than a small outline of a gourd to the side.  The short description puts a lot of emphasis on the change of the season and the cycle of it all that gives us pumpkin ale in the first place. – Brittney

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Color:  7.5

Pours an antique copper–that almost mirrors the can– with slight opacity and a striking two-finger head with grand staying power and an degree of impressive lacing.  – Tim

Very opaque with a good strong head and decent lacing.  It’s coloring is the typical cinnamon pumpkin orange variation that is so common with this style. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  5.5

Very hoppy with a background of ginger and pumpkin.  I also smell a tart citrus, like grapefruit.  There is also an aroma that smells a bit like wet earth (I’m not going to say mold but you get the picture), which I’m assuming are the wet hops mentioned on the can.  – Brittney

Hop forward and spicy, with ginger at the forefront. I don’t get much in the way of pumpkin, unless I inhale deeply and let the taste settle in the back of my throat to procure just a touch of vegetable meat. – Mike

Grapefruit and flowers and tell-tale hoppy overtones are all over the forefront of this brew with fresh vegetal pumpkin touches of ginger. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 4

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Mouth feel:  6.5

It has a good presence on the tongue with a light to medium body.  It’s really smooth until the bitter finish, but it strays from drying up and leaving a cottonmouth-like feeling that some hoppy beers can.  – Rick

Begins crisp and actively carbonated with a light to medium body and then mellows out to finish just thick enough to stay on the tongue. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  6

Ginger and hops storm the gates, bashing their way past your teeth with a bittering-ram, and squarely punch you in the uvula. Then as it begins to slowly decay, the wet hopping subsides to a smooth but bitter pumpkin, that seems like it should be drying, but doesn’t seem to have that effect on the tongue. It’s interesting to say the least. – Mike

Stepping into IPA territory Autumnation is a delightful harvest ale with fresh pumpkin and tons of hoppy goodness all over the brew.  Touches  of malty caramel converge in the body and the sourness and acidity of the ale help push the brew into the Indian Summer realm of beers that work best with it’s still ahead of the mid-range on the heat index–which works well for Florida drinkers who don’t see true cold weather till well past Turkey day.  – Tim

Hops, Hops and more hops followed by spices like ginger and some earthy pumpkin.  This is dry and slightly bitter but not overly so.  It would take a lot to pick out that this was considered pumpkin ale if you didn’t know it was supposed to be. – Brittney

This beer stands out for it’s unique use of wet hops, but I think it flounders in trying to evoke a pumpkin ale.  The ginger is just barely noticeable and I’m left without any pumpkin flavor.  Really, the only characteristic that has any pumpkin like quality is the coloration. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R-  2.5

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Finish:  6

I taste like I’m sucking on fresh hops after rinsing with ginger mouthwash. It’s actually strangely appealing, but it’s certain to turn off quite a few. If you like them bitter though, this is a unique long finish that will hold it’s position on your tongue until you surrender. – Mike

This is the sort of finish that just kind of hangs out in the back of your throat.  Your mouth is left with the usual dry malt beverage battle scene and just when you think that is all there is there is a touch of hoppy syrupiness telling you to take another sip.  – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 5.5 / R- 5

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Flavor balance:  5.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

There is hardly any pumpkin flavor to this ale.  The can says there is “spice” included, but there’s nothing to sweeten this one. The ginger is a nice touch that works well with the citrus notes without being overwhelming though. – Rick

The hops dominate here making the breadth of pumpkin spices just barely register, or at the very least disclose in a more ‘herbaceous’ manner–however the fresh pumpkin on the nose along with the tartness of the gourd work well in keeping with the fresh nature of the ale. – Tim

M- 3 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

There’s very little sweetness here, but there’s a touch of burnt malt that offsets the dry body and finish of this beer in the backend to keep it from being overpowering. – Mike

This ale has a good balance here.  It starts off bitter and finishes with some sweet malts that peek through at the end.  About half way through this beer, it seemed to become less bitter and a little sweeter. – Rick

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

A pretty solid beer for sessioning, that masks the 6.8% ABV very well–which will be wonderful for IPA drinkers and those of your looking for a pumpkin beer that’s a bit more reserved than the ‘pumpkin pie in a can/bottle’ offerings that some more traditional brewers are pushing this fall. – Tim

Given the full pint can and intensity of this brew, nursing one is enough for me to enjoy the character and nuances here, without getting my tongue too burnt out for another offering. – Mike

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

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Overall:  6.17

M- 6.50 / T- 7.16 / B- 6.42 / R- 4.67

Be sure to check out the link below to check out this brew on youtube! It’s worth a watch!

Autumnation

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale – The Boston Beer Company

Available only in the Sam Adams Harvest Collection pack, you’re going to have to commit to drinking a few beers to get to the two included of these included. Ironically, this made this one of the most expensive beers we’ve acquired yet. Then again if you’re going to a Halloween or Thanksgiving party, you might be very happy to see that someone has sprung for this assortment, and not the usual cheap ass beer.

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Name:  Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Massachusetts, USA / The Boston Beer Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Amber Ale /  5.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Deep roasted two row pale and caramel 60 malts, as well as special B and smoked malts compliment 11 pounds of pumpkin per barrel, along with the usual suspects of pie spices.

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Packaging:

Let’s face it gang.  Sam Adams is well branded and very colonial traditional and this rare pumpkin offering from the legendary Boston brew company is exactly what you’d expect with the traditional blue label offset with the contrasting tones of autumn orange.  – Tim

This definitely fits the standard Sam packaging style, which is tasteful if slightly boring. They’ve nicely altered the color scheme to a deep malty orange and true blue feel, but considering this should be one of the crowning items in their sought after harvest holiday pack, I would have liked to have seen it get a little bit of special treatment ala my favorite Sam one off from the Christmas package, “Old Fezziwig”.  – Mike

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Color:  7

A true amber so dark it’s almost garnet, and a thick whip cream head that didn’t dissipate for a number of minutes hugging the sides for dear life all the way down the glass. – Mike

Pours a clean, ruby amber that looks just like a….well…a Sam Adams.  Capping it off is a pretty enormous 2-finger head that lasts for what feels like an eternity leaving a gorgeous tapestry of lacing in it’s wake. – Tim

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

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Aroma:  6

Bold nutmeg right off the bat hints at a sweet bouquet, then transitions to smoky cloves.  All of that and a touch of citrus-like fruity notes that lead me to believe that this brew is more complex than first meets the eye.  – Rick

Bready malt sweetness with notes of roasted pumpkin and the standard mix of spices, but a touch of smoke lingers just long enough to pique my interest. – Tim

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

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Mouth feel:  5

Medium carbonation with light to medium body. It’s creamy without being syrupy.  Not obtrusive but not overly unique either. – Brittney

About as true to the term medium – bodied as you can come. It’s respectably full without trying to push into European territory, and a nice reminder of why Sam Adam’s has been a staple gateway beer to the craft beer world. – Mike

It’s got that high carbonation that I’d expect from a mass produced American beer, too watery and innocuous to be really interesting with a slight burn from the bubbles. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 3

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Tasting notes:  5.5

I like the basic mixture of spices in this brew.  It seems like there is a nice addition of brown sugar hiding under all that nutmeg and cinnamon, but just not enough to overshadow it’s lightness  Ultimately, the super light body is very disappointing. – Rick

There is no denying that this is a pumpkin beer done well.  But it seems like in order to create a really great pumpkin beer you’ve got to be willing to think outside the box.  What we have here is the Starbucks of pumpkin beers. – Brittney

I don’t generally go gaga over a Sam Adams and this one is no great exception.  Generations raised on Bud Light and Miller would probably be bowled over by any beer that didn’t adhere to those low standards and for me Sam is just one-upping a market that is competing at a Kindergarten level.  With that said, there’s some pumpkin in here and too much spice but most interestingly, there seems to be notes of Banana bread tossed into the mix. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 5

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Finish:  5

I really enjoyed how this beer had so much bite up front and how pleasantly it mellowed into a gently sweet confectionery feel.  A bit of nut and spice comes at the very tail, and I could see it nicely complimenting a thanksgiving turkey. – Mike

Leaves at the same level it enters, pleasant and drinkable, one that I would use as a buffer mid season but probably not one that I would seek out to impress. – Brittney

The finish is watery smooth with indications of a bite from the spices.  I find it to be slightly sour as well as smoky at the very end.  There seems to be something missing from this one. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 3 / B- 6.5 / R- 4

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Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

The roast on the nose is more pumpkiny than the meat in the body, the spice mix is large but very one note.  So, the brew favors the spice even though the spice is dull…that just speaks of fail in my book. – Tim

A nice amount of both pumpkin and spice.  Not too much, not too little, not too interesting. – Brittney

There is a bit of fruitiness in this one that can be attributed to the amount of pumpkin that was brewed with the ale, or the addition of ginger.  The spices are nice and subtle on this brew making it enjoyable on that level at least. – Rick

I’d say Sam is a particularly noteworthy brew in this category. Not only is there a nice pumpkin to spice ratio, but it doesn’t interfere with the beer leaning too malt or too hops. It’s a true combined effort, and I can definitely applaud that. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

If it wasn’t for the weird bitter finish that kind of sucked what little joy was in my mouth straight out into something that resembled the vacuum of space, this ale would have had a pretty descent balance on the palate, but that finish killed it quick. – Tim

I like the balance here between the sweet nutmeg and the light dryness offered by the underused hops. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Smooth and inoffensive, this would be an excellent thanksgiving game day run for the serious beer drinker that doesn’t want to shell out for the whole family. Of course, we found them two to a pack, so you’re going to have to bogart them in a private stash to even have a shot at getting them away from your uncle. – Mike

I’m gonna go with a no here.  And since Sam Adams actually makes the beer hard to acquire (maybe they know something we don’t about the quality) it really isn’t gonna matter anyway. – Tim

While it is definitely smooth and easy to drink with a nice pumpkin flavor, this brew just misses the mark where I want more body and complexity, I’m left with a simple and generic ale. – Rick

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

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Overall:  5.75

M- 6.83 / T- 4.50 / B- 6.78 / R- 5.08