Posts tagged ‘beer style’

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

Quick Hits II – Jaw Jacker, Punkel, & Sweet Yamma Jamma

GPBR

We know, we know, it’s been more than a second since our last post. We have some good reasons though. To add to our lists of delays like marriages, moves, honeymoons, and the like, we can now add babies and hospitalizations. Everyone’s ok now, we assure you, but it’s a little difficult to accurately review beer when you haven’t slept in a week or are on massive pain killers. (Though the reviews might be more entertaining).

We’ve crossed some wires both literally and figuratively, but we won’t abandon you before Turkey day cometh. So without further ado, here are a few, albeit tasty, impostors of pumpkin. These suckers are 100% pumpkin free despite their trappings. We won’t say that’s bad, and they are mostly pretty honest about it, but we felt it was our civic duty to let you know the truth.

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Name: Jaw Jacker

Place of Origin / Brewer: Battle Creek, MI / Arcadia Brewing Co.

Beer Style / ABV%: Spiced Ale / 6.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Jaw Jacker is an ale with spices (specifically cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg) added.

This was definitely one of our “duh” moments for the season. We all gathered to review this ale, quietly typing and scribbling away our notes (We don’t discuss the beers until after we have reviewed them individually). At the end, we all sat around the table and asked where the pumpkin was and, after digging on the internet a bit, found out it was “nowhere”. It’s still a little confusing to us why Arcadia decided to slap a giant fanged pumpkin ala “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” on the front of this one, but hey, we won’t complain about accidentally drinking an extra beer.

The glass greets you with a familiar burnished bronze and a nose of earthy spice and cherry cola fizz. In the mouth though, it’s a bit thin and quite bitter and earthy. This is one strange palate blower. While it’s not exceedingly clove, or cinnamon fire, the blend tends to come out as a soapy numbing pungency. Maybe they should put a little pumpkin in this after all to balance some things out.

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Name: Punkel

Place of Origin / Brewer: Garland, TX / Lakewood Brewing Co.

Beer Style / ABV%: Spiced Dunkel Lager / 5.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Punkel is a Munich Dunkel style lager based on the flavor of the dessert pumpkin pie. It is spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and includes no pumpkin.

There is an unfortunate mentality that comes out of the mouths of many of pumpkin beer’s critics, chief among them being the idea that “Pumpkin imparts little to no flavor”. We here at the GPBR simply disagree with that mindset, but we won’t hold it against Lakewood, we just aren’t sure why you’d set out to make a beer based on pumpkin pie and skip the pumpkin. That said, there are some nice things going on in and on this bottle!

The first impression is a sleek design job on the label including a wooden barrel stave logo (that is close to our hearts and our blog format, a nice selection of pairing recommendations (Smoked Gruyére! Good call!), and yes, the name is quite clever.

This tasty brown ale has gorgeous ruby highlights, and a nose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger over a hearty malt sea. In fact, this really does come quite close to achieving a pumpkin pie vibe, with a delicate pie crust body that’s malty and exceedingly well balanced. It’s smooth, silky, and makes a great session lager for those who can’t decide between Oktoberfest or Halloween.

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Name: Sweet Yamma Jamma

Place of Origin / Brewer: Minneapolis, MN / Indeed Brewing Co.

Beer Style / ABV%: Sweet Potato Ale / 5.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Sweet Yamma Jamma is brewed with 480 lbs of sweet potatoes in the mash along with European malts, and then canned yams and spices are added to secondary fermentation to infuse flavor.

We can always appreciate a cool can design, and you can be assured that any brewery that includes schematics of its brewing system on their website is into the details. The sweeping, epic font of the name elicits 70’s funk throwback, and the beer delivers on said funk. This is like the exploitation film of pumpkin ales.

On the red side of orange with a thin white head, the first thing that pos into your head is sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Savory vegetal yam plays against a good bit of biscuity malt, a hint of ginger and pepper, and a punch of brown sugar to sweeten it up a notch. This doesn’t play at being a pumpkin ale so much as it passes you the wrong dish when you reach for one. And for that we applaud it. It’s clean, refreshing, and though it’s a bit one note, it’s a good note. Sweet Yamma Jamma, Indeed.

Jack-O Traveler Seasonal Shandy – The Traveler Brewing Co.

Travlers Shandy

When we set out earlier this year seeking out beers to review, we definitely started looking into some of the darker corners of the cellar. Sure, there are certainly a few major release pumpkin ales that have eluded our grasp as of yet, but two years running of tracking down all the familiar faces has allowed us a certain freedom to delve into the unique, elusive, and creative minds. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’ve got nothing against a good old fashioned pumpkin ale, but whether it works or not, there’s always something fun about trying something a little different. This one is definitely in the “you’ve got to at least try it once” category. ::Cue mustache twirl::

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Name: Jack-O Traveler Seasonal Shandy

Place of Origin / Brewer: Burlington, Vermont / The Traveler Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Shandy

Specialty Prep / Individuality: This beer holds the distinction of being the first Pumpkin Shandy. It is brewed with 2-Row Malted Barley, malted wheat, and real pumpkin, and features Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops and a hint of spice. It’s also worth noting that while it does take it’s inspiration from the lemon soda & lager cocktails of Europe, the flavor here is 100% beer.

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Packaging:

I like this label. It’s playful and they’ve incorporated a fun moustachio into the artwork. Everybody loves a mustache. – Rick

A vine mustachioed jack-o-lantern. How hipster. – Tim

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Color: 7

This shandy is the color of honey or perhaps a lemon iced tea. Thin lacing clings just around the edge with an ever so slight amount of bubbles making their way to the top. It is the picture of refreshment. – Brittney

Deep Mustard Yellow leaning just slightly into a crusty orange / burnt umber. I’m going to guess this alludes to the lemon shandy aspect. Darker than I would have suspected. – Mike

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

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Aroma: 6

I wasn’t expecting such a full bodied aroma from this shandy. There are some earthy elements which reveal a muskiness that isn’t unpleasant and helps pronounce the pumpkin. – Rick

The aroma of lemon is always intense to me. With that being said, I smell a great deal of lemon and a good amount of pumpkin followed by just a bit of cinnamon. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel: 7

On the lighter end of medium bodied which, based on the fact that they are touting this as a shandy, is much fuller than I would have anticipated. The carbonation is mild and the ale has a soft and easy texture that would make putting more than a few of these back a veritable breeze. – Tim

Crisp, and light, with just a bit of fizz. This is easy drinking, hot weather pumpkin beer here folks. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes: 7

A slight touch of acidity rides a heap of spices and a good dose of malty, well… goodness. There is dominant sweetness that lands between pie and powdered lemonade, without delving too much into either, and a quality of southern tea that makes it a likely accompaniment for a round of golf on Halloween. – Mike

The overriding flavor profile is cinnamon and allspice, with subtle notes of lemon trailing on the finish. Considering the spice on the nose and at the forefront of the body, it’s a real wonder that this isn’t more aggressive. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this by any stretch of the imagination a traditional shandy, but the brewers have managed to impart that light sweetness within the confines of a pumpkin ale with absolute success. – Tim

We’ve tasted a lot of beers that tout fresh and local. And we all know what “natural flavors” really means these days. But I think it’s probably for the best if we all give this one a chance to be what it is. This is like the difference between buying your pumpkin pie at the store and baking one yourself from scratch. This “pie” is the pie from the store, and for what it is, it’s pretty damn good. – Brittney

I am quite surprised, once again, by this shandy. I never suspected that pumpkin flavor with lemon would make such a great combo. The spicing is gentle enough to let the natural sweetness of the pumpkin flavors shine, and each sip is just as good as the last. – Rick

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

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Finish: 6.5

Smooth and lemony on the end pronounced by a hint of zest and maybe a bit of cinnamon. A nice pumpkin gourdiness really floods the senses here and compliments the brew well. – Rick

This is where I get my dose of lemon. Nutmeg lingers and gives the quality of a mulled cider, with fruity pumpkin juice gleaning on the swallow. In fact, I think I might have had this once in a certain wizard themed section of a certain local theme park. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance: 6.5

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

What little pumpkin there is shows itself only on the bouquet, the spice while prominent is never overbearing, which in and of itself is a major compliment considering the dominant cinnamon profile on display. – Tim

The lemon really helps sweeten without having to rely on an over use of pumpkin spice. Actually the spicing seems to be pretty fair and light on this one. – Rick

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

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

You get sweetness from pumpkin and spice and a crisp dryness from the lemon creating a pretty decent balance to me. – Brittney

A good shandy should be sweet, but not soft drink-esque. This ale toes the line in that regard, with finessed aplomb. It has just enough sugar in it to make me want to pound down a few with my holiday fish and chips, but not so much that it’s going to leave me bloated and sorry. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

It’s light and easy going down, but there is an inherent sugar rush that just doesn’t gel with me. That said, it surpassed my expectations as a novelty, and is definitely interesting as a fringe style. A few tweaks could make this a winner down the line. – Mike

I was really impressed with this new twist on the pumpkin beer, and the style just begs to be drunk in session. It’s really well balanced and even more pumpkin-like than some of the ales that we’ve had. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 10

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Overall: 6.67

M- 5.67 / T- 6.33 / B- 7.33 / R- 7.33

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

Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus – The Timmermans Brewery

timmermans 002

The second of our imported pumpkin brews hails from one of the international high seats of brewing, Belgium. The Timmermans Brewery has been brewing their sour fruit beers for nearly 311 years, and tout themselves as the worlds oldest lambic brewery. Six generations later, we have our first foray into pumpkin beer using spontaneous fermentation with wild microorganisms that only live with a 15 kilometer radius of Brussels, Belgium.

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Name:  Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus

Place of Origin / Brewer: Itterbeek, Belgium / The Timmermans Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Lambic / 4.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Pumpkin Lambicus is spontaneously fermented by wild yeast and bacteria native to the Senne Valley in Belgium, particularly Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and Brettanomyces Lambicus. It is hopped with Aged dry hops (which offer little presence but still provide antiseptic qualities), matured in Portuguese Sherry barrels, and back-sweetened after maturation.

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Packaging:

Timmermans didn’t step far outside of their comfort zone on this one, but it does appeal to the idea of tradition in a very sensible way. An archaic black and white image of two folks working in the brewery (a variant staple of the brand image) is joined by a label color change to a pumpkin orange (another tradition reflecting the fruit contents) and a folksy full color pumpkin.  – Mike

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Color:  6

A straw-like golden ale with active carbonation blends perfectly into  a creamy beige head, that lingers for longer than an Indian summer evening, and leaves behind a legacy of gorgeous lacing. – Tim

I was caught slightly off guard by this light penny colored lambic. The pour was very effervescent, churning up a nice light head, but lacking in substance. It’s transparency seems to dull the color and reflect the overall lightness of this brew. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 7  / B- 7 / R- 3.5

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Aroma:  6

Tart fruit and a bit of pepper bite. Definitely a lambic. Slightly soapy tones over crisp apples, sweet hay, and notable pumpkin juice (think the smell of your arms after cutting open a ripe jack o’lantern).- Mike

Not intense in pumpkin or spice.  Smells more sour up front than anything else and finishes slightly creamy, more full and malty, with a hint of brown sugar. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 4.5

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Mouth feel:  7

With a super light mouthfeel, this lambic delivers a nice crisp and clean drink. It’s very bubbly and mobile over the tongue to really dish out the tartness. Each sip could bombard your taste buds with tart citrus flavors, but favors the lighter side to make this a great session lambic. – Rick

Smooth on the tongue with bouncy carbonation and a lighter medium body that twists and tingles like a vibrant spumante. – Tim

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

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Tasting notes: 7

The nose is very telling here. Sour apple and sweet, earthy pumpkin rush in, and are mellowed by a mix of honeyed milk and faint mulled cider spices. A nice acidity keeps this in check, and the slight parching aspect makes you eager for the next sip. – Mike

With the sweetness of a crisp summer cider, and notes that harken of great sour beers, the farmhouse quality of this ale is perfect for easing into the season amongest the long hot days of late summer.  Spice consists mainly of cinnamon which adds a decidedly dessert quality when matched with the inherent sweet and sour nature of the brew. – Tim

Given the right mood I can be a Lamic lover but this one is sort of lacking in the intensity of the fruit and flavor. Any sort of pumpkin or spice really has to settle in your mouth at the finish and you have to reach for it. – Brittney

This was a little different from my previous experience with lambics. The main impression I got from this brew was that I was drinking a fruity soda. Some apple cider like qualities were there, as well as less dominant raspberry and grapefruit flavors that overshadow a warm dry gourd like quality. The one thing that my notes seem to leave out is pumpkin. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 5.5 / R- 5

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Finish:  6.5

Most of the flavor lives here. You really have to take your time and give it a minute to settle. Then you are treated to the pumpkin and spice beyond the sour cider. – Brittney

The sweetness in the ale pairs nicely with the dryness in the finish giving it all the markings of a cider or Alsatian wine that would match nicely with a thanksgiving spread.  Frankly, I’m craving some stuffing just thinking about the paring. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance: 7

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

The pumpkin is raw and vegetal, the sweetness in the cinnamon spices highlight the sweetness of the ale and bring everything around in a notable balance. – Tim

There doesn’t seem to be any spicing really. The fruitiness is left to stand on it’s own in a nice way for this style. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 2.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

Lambics, for me at times, can be a witheringly sour slap in the face, and others a bit dainty. The sweet forefront here is well complimented by the sour and dry back end, and the result is a huge jump to the forefront of my list of crisp autumn drinks. – Mike

Both sweet and sour, it leaves the tongue slightly slick but leaves your mouth feeling mostly dry. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

         Multiple Drinkability?  7

Extremely sessionable, I can see a lot of these going down in a sitting. Light, crisp, and very tasty. The Belgians make a damn fine pumpkin beer. My grandmother would have been proud. – Mike

If lambics are your thing and you enjoy light sweet beers, you’ll love this. The ABV is low enough and it’s not too abusive to the palette. For me, it’s a bit tart so I’ll just wait patiently for the next pumpkin porter that comes my way. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 5 / R- 5.5

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Overall:  6.58

M- 8.17 / T- 7.67 / B- 5.83 / R- 4.58

Quick Hits – Duclaw 31, The Big Bam Boo, Autumn Maple, & Grateful Pumpkin

Ok, like you probably did as well, we stayed up way too late last night. Combine that with the perhaps-not-fully-realized-to-our-fans difficulty of getting all our reviewers to the same place, with the right beers, before they run out, etc,  so we decided to do an interesting offbeat post today. Our blog has seen marriages, moves, reviewers come and go, and the everyday challenges of work, kids, and functioning. It’s hard to review a beer when you’re so sick you can’t taste it, and the bottom line is we just can’t always make it to the source in time, or occasionally receive a brew that’s not quite actually “pumpkin”. So for what it’ worth, here are some notable quick hit reviews of the honorable mentions of autumn that don’t quite fit the bill, or won’t be around again to cover next year.

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Name:  Duclaw 31

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maryland, USA / Duclaw Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Spiced Munich Dunkel / 5.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Munich, Cara Aroma, and wheat malts join with Golding hops, cinnamon, and nutmeg to make a refreshing medium bodied fest-style brew with a bit of the classic pumpkin ale zesty pie finish. It’s a great, easy drinking compromise for the German-American party conflict that inevitably goes full steam in the drinker’s world around October 31st of each year.

You can’t win ‘em all. Special props go to our provider’s who shipped his package to us twice, only to have all but 2 scant bottles broken in the mail. Even more so, since last years batch was, in fact, a pumpkin ale. We were just unaware of the tradition of changing the recipe. Our bad. Check them out anyway, we know you need a break from pumpkin beer by now, but can’t escape the sweet, sweet allure of nutmeg… right?

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Name:  The Big Bam Boo

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Dunedin Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Pale Ale / 6.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  An aroma of sweet honey, biscuit malt, and vegetal goodness pour off this glass, and pronounced Centennial, Delta, and Nelson Sauvin hops round out this distinctive pale ale. Easy to drink, and complex enough to impress. Add that ours was rested on Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (which imparted an amazing nutty finish), and you’ve got the trappings of an awesome pumpkin brew from Florida’s oldest brewery. No spice needed.

Our problem? Crossed wires. A friend was nice enough to go in search of a growler for us, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we got delayed in meeting up, the beer was not going to last long, and we wouldn’t be able to meet before it’s shelf life ran out. Also, I might have totally not realized that this was supposed to be a pumpkin ale from the name, and drank it thinking we got a consolation prize. That’s why text messages are a bad form of communication. Oops.

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Name:  Autumn Maple

Place of Origin / Brewer: California, USA / The Bruery

Beer style / ABV%:  Belgian Brown Ale / 10%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  I’m sure by now we’re all well acquainted with the fantastic and unique beverages produced by The Bruery. We’ve covered their collaboration pumpkin  La Citrueille Celeste de Citricado, and we’ve personally consumed more than a few of their offerings. Sometimes though, being unique means getting singles out, and in fact, it’s stated right on the label. Autumn Maple offers a twist on the traditional spiced pumpkin ale, but subs in 17 lbs of yams per cask, along with all the classic spices, molasses, maple syrup, and a Belgian yeast strain. It’s bold, spicy, and makes a great meal finisher (I had mine with an early mock Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a damn near perfect match). This is the great southern sweet potato casserole of beers, and it would have undoubtedly rated highly on our review scale. Our problem? No pumpkin. Simple as that.
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Name:  Grateful Pumpkin Ale (Violator Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Orlando Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  The first of Orlando Brewing’s Violator Series ( all other beers they produce are in accord with the German purity law of 1516), this certified 100% organic ale was flavored with heaps of roast pumpkin, ginger, and nutmeg. Dark molasses notes, intermingled with smoke and roasted pumpkin seed notes, leaning this experiment to a dry, dominantly spicy profile, that would appeal to those who enjoy a parching intensely flavored ale, but might lean a little too intensive for those seeking a more approachable classic ale. Our problem? We just simply couldn’t all get there in time to review it, and didn’t feel it was fair to weigh in on a rating without a balanced call from our crew. Hopefully next year we’ll get a better picture, or at least a new ale to try.

Drunkin’ Pumpkin – Fort George Brewery

Well, that’s that. We’ve moved past the slew of  this year’s spooky pumpkin ales, and we’re done for the season. It’s officially XMAS, and we need to inundate our heads with the 30,000 horrendous pop covers of classic carols…Wait. What’s that? We have multiple boxes of pumpkin ale left to review? And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet?

Ok, ok, it looks like we’ve got more work to do and more abuse for our livers ahead, so you can pick that perfect pairing for burning your house down with a turkey fryer and collecting the insurance money. Check out today’s look at Fort George Brewery, where community matters.

P.S. Don’t forget to vote today.

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Name:  Drunkin’ Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Oregon, USA / Fort George Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This ale is brewed with organic wheat, munich, caramel, and 2-row honey malts, US challenger hops, lots of roasted whole fresh pumpkins, and sand filtered water. This beer is also completely un-spiced, as the brewer’s prefer to let the pumpkins speak for themselves.

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Packaging:  This one was only available to us on tap, though Fort George does have a number of awesome cans.

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Color:  8.5

This is a gorgeous ale with tons of motion, settling out like a famous Irish stout, and nicely reflecting it’s grains. Throw in an epic head and extreme lacing and this could easily be a pumpkin ale pin-up. – Mike

My first impression of this beer is the great opaque copper coloration and an agitated swirling of the body. This quickly settles and reveals an awesome head with some intense lacing. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  6.5

Refreshing and clean with a green hoppy nose and hints of bubblegum amidst the farm fresh vegetal pureness of newly harvested pumpkins. – Tim

This one has a good bit of a toasted pumpkin essence combined with nice harvest ale undertones. The aroma is smooth and calm; somehow I’m not disappointed by the lack of spice at all. – Brittney

M- 6.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 4.5

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Mouth feel:  6

It’s slightly watery, but with a medium body that feels like it’s a stronger beer than it actually is. There’s a nice hoppy presence that leaves a dry feel though, so there’s no sting. – Rick

Medium bodied but not syrupy, crisper than I was expecting for the initial feel, but a little more on the dense end. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  7

This is a great ale that expertly features it’s vast grain bill and still swings the fresh pumpkin right into the forefront. Definitely a cool option for those opposed to heavily spiced ales. – Mike

Lush with a pronounced vegetal feel.  As advertised, there are zero spices here which really lends an amazing and clear profile to this ale, letting every note of the pumpkin sing. Where in other beers it’s masked, faint, or just simply overpowered by spice, here the squash shines.  This reminds me of those stories of ales fermented right in the gourd and tapped straight out of the flesh. – Tim

There isn’t a ton of your typical pumpkin beer going on here but there wasn’t supposed to be. This one is a literal pumpkin beer; an autumn beer with an strong aftertaste of pumpkin, no spice about it. It’s nutty, malty, smooth, and delicious. – Brittney

Lacking traditional spices, we’re left with the pumpkin pulling all the weight which leaves a sour ale that’s barely sweet. With a hop profile that dominates the roasted malts, it’s tough not to miss some of that sweetness from cinnamon or nutmeg. – Rick

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

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Finish:  6.5

An opulent wheat finish that’s moderately long with just a smattering of bitter hops. A first in my pumpkin ale travels. – Mike

Long, dry, floral, and hoppy, with a stark bitter astringency that is refreshingly different and, perhaps, a little problematic for drinker’s more accustomed to modern pie spice interpretations of pumpkin ale. – Tim

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

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Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: ***

***Since this ale is completely un-spiced, we have opted to remove this category from the overall score.***

M- * / T- * / B- * / R- *

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 5.5

There’s a brief, but fantastic caramelized pumpkin jive that backs off into a dry and fairly hopped finish. Not exactly the great equalizer, but less polarizing than today’s election. – Mike

The sweet to dry balance is so far off center (read: Bone Dry) that it’s almost unfair to the categorize it.  I’m of the opinion that this beer is designed to be exactly what you don’t think a pumpkin beer is–but more precisely what a true, pure, untainted  pumpkin beer could be. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

I enjoy the lack of spice that a lot of pumpkin beers tend to lean on, but for this one I’d stick with one round. – Brittney

A decent flavor for a traditional style pumpkin ale. Without any sweet spices added, this is perfect if you’re looking for a change of pace. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 5

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Overall:  6.75

M- 7.92 / T- 7.25 / B- 6.67 / R- 5.17