Posts tagged ‘Barrel’

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

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale – Alltech Lexington Brewing Co.

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel

First review of the season, everyone take a deep breathe! Sometimes things get a little divisive over here at the GPBR, but usually we have to be a few brews in first. This time it only took one! Fortunately, we have what we think is a pretty cool four – reviewer format to more closely represent the tastes of all our readership, so if you find yourself agreeing with a certain person more than others, you may want to keep your eyes more specifically on how they scored our many various offerings. After all, that’s one of the best parts about craft beer: We can always agree to disagree as long as there’s something else in the fridge!

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Name: Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lexington, KY / Alltech Lexington Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale / 10.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale is a barrel-aged ale brewed with Kentucky-sourced pumpkin, and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

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Packaging:

A play on Kentucky Bourbon Barrel’s standard packaging this bottling delivers a copper backdrop to accent the barrel face and the traditional thoroughbred visage. Of note, the ABV is missing from the label (which at 10%) is slightly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re getting into. – Tim

This bottle/label is pretty much what you would expect from the name. An image of a barrel on its side with a horse head and Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale displayed proudly. I’ll let the fact that Pumpkin Barrel makes absolutely no sense slide. – Brittney

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Color: 5

Pale golden orange in color with a thin line of pure white lacing around the rim. There is a small amount of carbonation slowly floating to the surface. – Brittney

Thin and very light looking, with a queasy yellow pallor that lacks any defining red-orange hues we so typically see in this beer style. Closer to a slightly scorched pilsner / old hay of a young whiskey. If this were pumpkin beer personified, I’d say they looked a little sick. – Mike

M- 3.5 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 4.5

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Aroma: 6.5

This smells amazing, working my tongue into a frenzy for the first sip. Predominant notes of squash notes on the nose with hints of cinnamon and clove in the heady bouquet and a touch of bourbon sweetness. – Tim

This is where the beer gets you. Super sweet candy like bourbon just wafts off this bad boy. The bourbon draws you in, but the pumpkin and vanilla (maybe even some banana notes) seal the deal and entice that first sip. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

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Mouth feel: 4.5

To my surprise the mouth feel on this one is very thin and mellow. For a barrel aged beer it’s unusually light. – Brittney

It’s somewhat interesting, or even perplexing that such a bold flavored ale can have such a watery mouthfeel. It seems a lot lighter than it should, but it’s all masked fairly well by a bitterness and a bit of pepper on the tongue. The heat from the alcohol doesn’t help matters either. – Rick
M- 3.5 / T- 7 / B- 3.5 / R- 5

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Tasting notes: 6

An assertive amount of cinnamon sugar with fruity bubblegum and fruity pumpkin following. Surprisingly, I get very few actual barrel notes – no real woodiness, tannins, or toast. Without the huge slap of ethanol I would be hard pressed to pick this out as a barrel offering at all. I’d like to say it’s all there somehow, but really, it’s kind of a mess. – Mike

Rich roasted pumpkin notes and spice at the forefront, with candied fruit and vanilla set against oak, spicy pepper and toffee. At 10% ABV it’s got a boozy back end that reminds you of after dinner cocktails chasing homemade pie. – Tim

Other than the hint of heaviness at the end of the aroma this is the only area that this beer tends to feel like it is barrel aged at all. You could say that this beer is a little confused. It looks like a light beer, it smells for the most part like a plain pumpkin ale, it feels unassuming but when you taste this, it goes straight to your head. You still taste the pumpkin and spices but the bourbon and alcohol quickly take center stage. – Brittney

Barrel aging treats this one well, although the weak mouthfeel throws the dynamic here, confusing the senses. The bourbon is the forerunner here, taking center stage while the rest of the flavors mingle in the background just enough to call it pumpkin. – Rick

M- 4 / T- 8.5 / B- 4 / R- 7

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Finish: 4.5

A bit of nutmeg and bread crust attempt to dry things out here, but it just proves too big of a job. – Mike

A little heat from the bourbon and some cinnamon as well. Goes down smooth though, which is befitting of the lighter mouthfeel. A tad too cloying by the first third though, so I’m a bit worried I wont make it through. A little woody but maintains it’s sweetness throughout. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance: 4.5

 

Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5.5

Artificial pumpkin and cinnamon whiskey shots fight for dominance. You could technically say that they were fairly well balanced with each other, but they never really feel harmonious. – Brittney

M- 3.5 / T- 9 / B- 4 / R- 6.5

 

Sweet / Dry balance: 4

Sweetness in the nose and body is precisely off-set by the prompt finish and breathy alcohol. It’s not dry but since it never lingers, it avoids becoming cloying and rather winds up very clean. – Tim

I think this gave me diabetes. Someone check my insulin, I’d like to keep my foot. – Mike

M- 2 / T- 8 / B- 3 / R- 4

 

Multiple Drinkability? 4

Town Branch Bourbon and pumpkin pie sounds like my ideal kind of finishing course for an autumn meal. The liquid form here however, proves less appealing than the real thing. As far as session-able brews goes, that clearly isn’t the intention here, so the body and alcohol prevalence are generally baffling. In the end it equates to a valiant try, but I don’t really care for flavored whiskey, so I definitely don’t enjoy it watered down. – Mike

It’s a decent pumpkin ale but it is a serious assault on the senses. For me it’s too sweet and with a maxed out ABV at 10% it just seems overdone and too cliché. – Rick

M- 2 / T- 8 / B- 3 / R- 3

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Overall: 5.16

M- 3.00 / T- 7.75 / B- 3.50 / R- 5.5.

Kentucky

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

 

Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project) – Paradox Beer Co.

Paradox2

This sentence is false. Be cruel to be kind. Deep down, you are really shallow. The beginning of the end. There are a lot of great paradoxes floating around, and we feel the good ones really make you think. By that standard, this offering is a pretty great paradox. The one by which this company gears their projects is particularly inspiring to those of us with a taste for craft brews: Modern brewing processes collide, headlong, into ancient beer. Intrigued? Well read on intrepid reader. As these brewers are want to tell you, “ Beer is Alchemy sprinkled with Paradigm, dashed on the hopes of Artistic Grandeur”.

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Name: Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Woodland Park, CO / Paradox Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale / 6.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Pepitas Grande is a dark beer brewed with pumpkins, roasted pepitas, Chimayo red chili, and a hint of cocoa. After brewing it is aged in oak red wine barrels.

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Packaging:

Nice and professional looking design. I like the touch of info graphics on the sides to help point out certain characteristics like hop level and ABV. It would be hard to tell that this is a pumpkin beer on the shelf, but then again I believe people who seek this beer out know exactly what they are looking for. – Rick

Nothing about this bottle screams “pumpkin ale”, but none the less, it appeals to the occult philosopher and mystery seeker in me. Can we give points for enigmatically spooky? – Mike

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Color: 8

Rich espresso colored and murky with a good bit of sticky lacing but not much of a head. The stagnant sediment floating could be a bit unnerving to some but we are just going to go with it. – Brittney

Murky with Garnet and Burnt Sienna tones and a brilliant cream head so thick and dense it looks like you could bounce a quarter off it—with a constant dance of carbonation bubbles that would put a Bubsy Berkeley musical to shame. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Aroma: 8

Sacred Chimayo earth, obsequious tannins, and a bit of chili heat. There is a nice presence of roast pumpkin as well. – Mike

It reminds me of December for some reason. I’m picking up a slightly sweet alcohol element that is balanced with a roasty espresso and complimentary malts. A hint of chili and perhaps toasted seeds help round out the earthy qualities that are apparent here. – Rick

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7

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Mouth feel: 7.5

Thick and smooth, with a milkshake richness. This is a full bodied ale, that despite the massive carbonation action is as smooth as a newborn baby.- Tim

There is a gentle tingle from the carbonation, which is slightly intensified by the chili spice. It’s not nearly as thick as I had expected but is on the thick end of medium bodied. – Brittney

M – 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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Tasting notes: 8

This isn’t your typical pumpkin ale, and I say that with a very happy lilt applied. This is complexity and grace. The wine barrel adds heavily to its presence and richness, vegetal and earthy notes shine from the competing pumpkin, and the heat is a kiss upon the brow. Both nuanced and epic, this is pumpkin beer done Dios De Los Muertos style. Well deserving of its name. – Mike

Roasted pumpkin and dark fruit notes are enveloped in a brandy-like complexity with the heat of the chilies screaming through on the close. Red wine with notes of oak, and white pepper. I like the idea of a paradoxical beer, it is both a pumpkin beer and it is not a pumpkin beer, It is a chili beer, but it is not a chili beer. It celebrates both the season and the idea of the harvest, yet it turns it expectations on its ear by eliminating all the trappings that would make it a seasonal beer. – Tim

This beer is every bit of what it says it is. It seems that when a bottle has a laundry list of what it is claiming to offer you are always missing one or two key ingredients and most of the time those are the ones that made you pick the beer in the first place. That is not the case for this beer. This beer never claims to taste like pumpkin pie or pie spices. It does however taste of roasted pepitas and Chimayo red chili without completely overshadowing pumpkin and cocoa. – Brittney

I really enjoy this beer, but the pumpkin is very subtle, instead focusing more on the roasted earthy qualities. I love the espresso roasted malts that are finished off with a fine hot chile heat. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 6

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Finish: 8

The finish is subtler than I would expect considering most beers with any sort of spice stick with you. In my opinion it is a welcome reprieve. I love that you can enjoy the intense chili throughout the beer but not have it wreck your pallet for the rest of the night. – Brittney

The finish is long and full of currant flavors and chili heat, the back of my throat tingles in a pleasant manner which makes me long for another sip, but in true paradoxical fashion relief cannot be found in another helping of the ale, only more flavor and more heat. Yet, I continue to drink it. – Tim

M – 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance: 8

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

This is not your pumpkin pie party beer. This sucker is a meandering peyote soaked vision quest. You could spend hours finding new details in the elaborate nexus of intermingling flavors. The gourd is the ground in which we plant the seeds of a damn fine beer. – Mike

First we have to consider that we are comparing pumpkin seeds and chili, not pie spices. The only way that they can balance and they do balance is the roast of the seeds and the heat of the chili. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

It has a nice sweetness to it that doesn’t feel like it’s forced by any abundance of traditional spicing. I also really enjoy the heat and spice from the addition of chile on the finish to really round out this brew. – Rick

If I were drinking this in a parched desert landscape surrounded by a thousand cacti, this still wouldn’t be dry. But, it would still be brilliant. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

Here is your paradox. How does one drink an increasingly hot chili beer as a session ale? (You don’t. There are only 1100 bottles.) – Mike

This is a good oak barreled beer that takes a unique stance on the pumpkin paradigm. Well worth multiple trips into the spicy territory of Pepitas Grande. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 8.5 / R- 8

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Overall: 7.92

M – 8.25 / T- 8.25 / B- 7.67 / R- 7.08

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

Fat Jack Double Pumpkin (Batch 1) – Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

It’s no secret that Sam Adams is a controversial name in the craft beer movement. There’s a strong argument to be made for it’s role in starting people on something besides mass manufacture lagers, and to date, there’s certainly been one that it was just another big company producing quantity over quality. To their credit, Sam Adams seems to be making an attempt to embrace the craft beer revolution and embrace their heritage as “the alternative beer in the mainstream bar”.  With a number of  specialty releases coming out under the Brewmaster Collection, Barrel Room Collection, and other specialty and limited release series, they are certainly doing a solid job of using their resources to create something interesting, rather than just pushing their core product. We took a deep look at one of their most recent entries in that mentality, and were pleasantly surprised.

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Name:  Fat Jack Double Pumpkin (Batch 1)

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Massachusetts, USA / Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company)

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed with Two-Row Pale Malt Blend, Caramel 60, Special B, and Smoked Malt. East Kent, Goldings, and Fuggles hops are then added, along with 28 lbs of real pumpkin the barrel. Spices include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

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Packaging:

I like the cool pen and ink doodle of a plump and happy gourd with human appendages. Its obese appearance, seemingly passed out from overindulgence, and vice-like grip on a spoon paints a morbid scene worthy of Grimm works. – Rick

Fat jack is not a pretty man. He’s a grizzled face, obsequious fellow who looks like he’d just as soon shank you with a spoon, as say hello. Did I mention he is wielding a spoon shank? You don’t want to cross a squash this gnarly. – Mike

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Color:  8.5

This is a deep rustic ale, almost mahogany with a short half-finger head that leaves some minor lacing.  The head isn’t all that spectacular but the color is glorious. – Tim

My first thought is a heavy cream soda but this beer boasts a butter cream colored, dissipating head with a beautiful dark chestnut but luminous body. – Brittney

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

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Aroma:  8

Smokey char-grilled pumpkin and pie crust with the spices in perfect poise. Nothing jumps out intensely, Fat Jack is the Biggie Smalls of pumpkin beer — he just plays it cool and lets the ladies roll up to him. – Mike

If I wasn’t reviewing this, I’d probably be at a loss for words.  There is a smoky richness to the head that reminds me of the only Sam Adams beer I really like (the Scotch Ale) but the smoke is even more pronounced here, and it blends together with a dark sweetness while dancing with spices of Cinnamon, Cumin and Allspice.  I’m actually entranced, as visions of pumpkin pie baking away in a wood burning oven make me feel all Pilgrimy inside. – Tim

Spice cake, pumpkin bread, yeast-y, pumpkin-y, spice-y buttery goodness. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

Incredibly easy to sip and a touch syrupy, it’s a light drink with a nice tingle on the lips. There’s a slight bite at the end giving the perfect finish to this smooth full bodied ale. – Rick

Smooth, luxurious, and thick, there’s just the right cut of bubble, and a full bodied weight that evades the trap of syrup. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  8

Thick and sweet, but not syrupy, carrying big molasses flavors and roasted pumpkin notes that play off the spices in exceptional harmony.  It’s like bottling the most decadent, heart-attack inducing pumpkin pie directly into a bottle.  The smoke from the roasted malts is heavy but not overwhelming on the palate and the 8.5% ABV peeks it’s head around enough that the whole affair almost starts to develop an opulent Barley wine vibe to it.  If this is what Sam Adams has planned to counter the craft beer revolution, I’m willing to take more than a few midnight rides with them. – Tim

Bacon. That would be my first impression. Maple bacon? Chocolate-dipped bacon? Maybe, but we are talking about beer and even though it tastes as though the bacon has been battered in some sort of pumpkin breading and even though I love eating bacon, I just don’t see myself drinking a glass of it. – Brittney

This ale imparts a great smoky flavor that’s reminiscent of many cold evenings spent by the campfire.  The malts are the stars here. Good and sweet, they balance the roastiness and upon first sip I want to chew on this beer. It’s a meal in itself. – Rick

Wow. This is that deliciously burnt crust pumpkin pie reheat that you get the day after Thanksgiving. Piled in creamy goodness to keep it moist, and then finished with a slice of apple wood smoked bacon — because you’re the guy that eats pie for breakfast. The pumpkin tastes phenomenal, and there is no doubting of it’s presence. This barrel is bursting with squash, and momma slapped that hand away before it got too heavy with the spice. It’s got all the sweetness and weight of a Belgian triple. – Mike

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

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Finish:  7

The smoke and hop bitterness here is the coup de gras, capping out and excellent mellow sweet ale, with a warm belly finish, that still leaves you burping up pumpkin instead of liquid smoke afterwards. – Mike

I like this brew for it’s amazing flavor, but also because of the great finish. It’s a smooth drink with a surprising spicy bite. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8

Cloaked by the other more intense notes the pumpkin and spice both peek through evenly. –Brittney

No spice is entirely dominant here with the exception of cinnamon maybe just a tad. Otherwise, they all balance each other well. The pumpkin is the hero here with the roasted malts contributing very nicely as well. – Rick

Roast pumpkin goodness is in exceptional harmony with the spices early on and throughout consumption.  The beer only falters a bit at the finish when the smoke takes precedent. – Tim

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

The sweetness is present in the first glimpse and then held in a choke hold as the other elements weigh in, before finishing with a dry smoke. Bravo. I applaud Sam Adam’s for bringing their resources together to create such a heavyweight contender. – Mike

It’s not overly sweet, and even exhibits dry notes, which match up well with the smoked goodness contained within.  To me it’s a very, very good mix, which others might find becomes a little too intense after a while.  But hey…I’d drink Rauchbier for breakfast. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7

It may have a higher ABV but I will try to drink as much of this as I can get my hands on. – Rick

There is a lot of flavor here so much that my palette could probably only stand just one. – Brittney

I know I’m going to get into trouble here because I want to drink this ale way faster than I should.  With the incredibly well masked 8.5% ABV, it’s dangerously delicious.  A formidable bottle size, I’d absolutely put away more than one if I could—and possibly even so many that passed out, with my face half in the candied yams, I would dream of  costumed kiddies collecting Halloween treats, while cartoon turkeys circled my sleepy head. – Tim

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

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Overall:  7.75

M- 8.67 / T- 8.17 / B- 6.17 / R- 7.92

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