Posts tagged ‘Brewing’

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

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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

 

Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co.

Riverhorse

So it turns out getting wifi issues resolved in the mountains isn’t quite as easy as it would seem, but we haven’t left you for the year just yet. Leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday we will be making a few more reviews before winter brews completely take over the shelves. So put down those bottles with elves, krampus, or lovely snow scenes for a few more days, and join us in a few more gourd laden delights!

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Name:  Hipp-o Lantern Imperial Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lambertville, NJ / Riverhorse Brewing Co.

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Hipp-o Lantern is brewed with pumpkin purée, molasses, and a variety of hand crushed spices.

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Packaging:

A river horse, for those not in the loop, is a Hippopotamus. That established, the label art on this bottle is definitely fun, sporting a well illustrated hippo head jack o’lantern. It’s quirky and amusing, and still manages to get the brand and style across. For my money though, the lampooning of the headless horseman astride a hippo sported on the beer case is maximum laughs. Though in reality, that would be pretty damn terrifying. Have you seen the teeth on those things? – Mike

It’s a graphics intense label with little more than the name of the ale and the brewery up front and some minor tidbits about the concoction inside on the back. There is a whimsical illustration of a pumpkin that I would go so far as to say delivers a “not impressed” look on the neck.  Let’s hope that doesn’t foreshadow the ale to come. – Tim

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Color:  7

This is a beast of a brew boasting a great opaque and rich body that is just aching to be imbibed. It has a rich dark cinnamon profile that glows with an almost reddish hue when held to the light. My glass is also left with a fair bit of legging from the creamy head. – Rick

Pours a murky copper color with trails of carbonation floating to the surface where a small tan head holds strong. As the glass empties a bit you can catch a bit of sediment gathering around the bottom.  – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

Just a touch of everything, a bit of pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, a touch of malt and caramel. It has a really fresh, slightly nutty aroma. Sort of reminds me of the walking into the produce department near fall when it’s full of fresh earthy vegetables, sweet fruits and cinnamon brooms are inevitably hidden somewhere.  – Brittney

The bouquet is cinnamon and clove with pumpkin and caramel and just a touch of booze to carry it all to my nose. – Tim

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This beer could stand to have a little more body and a little less carbonation. On a more positive note, it plays a fair balance that isn’t overwhelmingly slick or syrupy and doesn’t leave your mouth feeling like a desert. – Brittney

Refreshingly full bodied, this ale lives up to it’s imperial name. Well balanced flavors mix over the tongue, and I can’t tell that this has a high ABV it’s so smooth. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8

The first thing that pops out at me here, or rather, doesn’t, is the spicing. It’s there just enough to nod at you knowingly, but the star of the show here is a fine amber ale that is earthy pumpkin forward, with lots of crusty notes, and skips the sugary pie minefield all in one step. – Mike

Really well done, with pie spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg swirling around pumpkin puree and rich malts and hints of vanilla.  The ale itself touts how well it is balanced and I for one can’t seem to find a disagreement to be had there.  Not showy, but a solid ale all around. – Tim

 I like it when a pumpkin beer can pull back on the spice and let all of the other elements stand just as strong.  This is a nice blend of earthy pumpkin, nutty malt and enough spice to be a complimentary flavor instead of a crutch. – Brittney

Full flavored and full bodied, I’m really impressed with how well the flavors are balanced. It’s smooth and creamy with some vanilla shining just above the pumpkin flavors.- Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

The finish is as clean as you can expect from this style of beer, and with no overwhelming characteristics (I mean that in the best way possible) there aren’t any lingering flavors. – Brittney

This finishes like a neat rye whiskey. It’d pleasantly dry, with a touch of smoke, and quite savory. – Mike

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

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Flavor balance:  8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

It’s tricky to call out a specific spice as standing out here, which I find refreshing. River Horse managed to keep this ale both pumpkin forward and fairly dry for such a malty glass. The result is a nicely restrained offering that, while it may not blow your socks off, also won’t blow your palate. – Mike

Arguably one of the most balanced pumpkin offerings I’ve had, this ale isn’t broadly hitting every possible nuance of the varieties of pumpkin beer offerings, but still manages to compile the spice and gourd backgrounds into a swirling vortex of malty goodness. – Tim

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Sweetness in the body is tempered by a touch of sourness and the clean finish, once again showing a deft hand from the Brew master at River Horse. – Tim

I have a tough time with beer that is too sweet, so tasting an imperial pumpkin ale that is so full of flavor, yet so well balanced is a welcome treat. – Rick

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

This would be a great session ale for parties or as a mellow offer with with a bit of booze after a big Thanksgiving meal. It’s full and refreshing, but eludes a heavy, sugary gut full of bloat. All in all, a fantastic fall sipper for a cool evening. – Mike

If I saw this on the shelves it would be one of my top picks. It’s well rounded, balanced almost perfectly, and has cojones. – Rick

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

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Overall:  7.67

M- 7.58 / T- 7.17 / B- 7.83 / R- 7.67

Count Orlok Black Pumpkin Ale (Revolution Series #666 STL) – Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Orlock II

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the estate of Bram Stoker would probably disagree. Feel as you may about the overwhelming plethora of blood sucking freaks that have made their way pervasively through popular culture, there is no denying that some rip offs are better than others. On that subject, the seminal 1922 release of “Nosferatu” certainly rises to the head of the glass, so to speak. During the first World War, Germany had essentially banned all foreign films, and the side effect was the rise of the German Expressionist movement. Combining geometric absurdist design with intellectual explorations of dark themes, the films became a massive influence on many filmmakers, and remain cult classics to this day. Of course, while the presentation may have been wholly original, Nosferatu encountered more than a bit of a problem in borrowing content, namely the underlying plot of a slightly more famous vampire, “Count Dracula”.

Despite the iconic performance of Max Shrek as the less than suave, more than terrifying, rodent faced “Count Orlok”, there is no scorn quite like that of a widowed Florence Stoker. Perhaps rightfully, but nonetheless unfortunately, a court order was issued deeming the work a thinly veiled infringement of copy-written work, and all copies were ordered destroyed. It’s hard to keep a vampire dead though, and lurking about the shadows of Europe, a single print was recovered, copied by fans, and finally, distributed to become the silent iconic horror masterpiece adored by so many today.

Since it is now in the public domain, you can jump to the bottom of the blog to watch the full movie and download a copy for yourself. Happy Halloween!

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Name:  Count Orlok Black Pumpkin Ale (Revolution Series #666 STL)

Place of Origin / Brewer: St. Louis, MO / Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Black Pumpkin Wheat Ale / 5.4%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This German inspired bier noir is brewed with Golden Delicious pumpkins and features Pale & Munich malts, along with German wheat and Opal hops, a Bavarian yeast strain, and pie spices.

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Packaging:

I think it should be said for the purposes of full disclosure that I am a huge student of silent films (I even have Lon Chaney Sr. tattooed on my arm).  So, I’m pre-disposed to be a raging fan boy over this “Revolution Series #666” bottling from Urban Chestnut, featuring the singularly creepy Count Orlok.  The Count, a vampire, was a character that F.W. Murnau christened in the 1922 film Nosferatu to avoid a lawsuit with Bram Stoker’s widow over the name Dracula.  And even though Vampires drink blood–I’m sure an exception can be made for this “Black Pumpkin Ale” around Halloween time. – Tim

Really cool “Nosferatu” themed design, fits the season and haunts my fridge. I’m a sucker for horror themes and this one takes the cake. – Rick

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Color:  7

Pours a murky mahogany brown color with very little head and the thinnest of white lacing around the edges. Due to the complete opaqueness of the class the only place you can catch the slight carbonation is at the top. – Brittney

A deep and opaque chestnut brown. Nearly black, but not quite. It sounds a lot less sexy to call it a REALLY DARK BROWN PUMPKIN ALE though, right? There is a nice single finger off white head (my color palate suggests “Fawn”), and the glass appears rather still, but who knows what bubbles are lurking among the shadows? – Mike

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

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Aroma:  6.5

Lots of nice floral yeast notes mingling with dry black malts. There is a silky sweetness floating over a mixture of oats and barley. It smells just like I imagined a black pumpkin wheat would.- Rick

So far this smells like sour ale. On second and third pass you start to get more of the sweetness of the pumpkin and a flash of cinnamon and clove. – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Mouth feel:  6.5

I’m really enjoying the mouth feel of this one.  It’s a solid medium bodied beer that is not too crisp and not too syrupy.  The carbonation isn’t offensive but there is enough of it that the sips aren’t boring and flat either. – Brittney

Much thinner than expected, I have to remind myself that this is a Black Ale and not a stout or porter, but even then it’s a touch too watery for my tastes and the carbonation is much lighter than the initial pour would suggest – which compounds the problem as well. -Tim

M- 7 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

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Tasting notes:  6.5

Charmingly subtle Dunkelweizen grains and mild sweetness on the first sip and the, as the fluid unassumingly sloshes around your maw, hearty pumpkin pie creeps out to snatch your taste buds away under their dark veil of liquid bread. – Mike

Vampires, as they are, have notorious reactions to garlic–of which this ale has none.  However, were cloves our rat-fanged anti-hero’s kryptonite, then this would be the ale to avoid like the plague–as clove is the undying profile on display here.  Some roasted pumpkin flesh and dark malts come into play, but for the most part this ale is studded with more clove than a holiday ham. – Tim (editors note: Tim doesn’t like too much clove).

I get a lot of roasted malt and wheat in the front of the flavor. What little pumpkin I smelled in the aroma has weakened and the only spice I can taste anymore is clove. This beer is either super complex or fairly simple but it leaves me at a loss. – Brittney

It’s an interesting twist. I like the choice of mixing dark malts into the wheat ale category, as it adds a bit of enjoyable smokiness to the profile of a beer that I otherwise might not like. Pumpkin spices are almost subtle, acting as an accent to an already delicious beer. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

 Orlock

Finish:  7

Lingering smoke, mace, and clove gather in the recess of your cheeks to skulk about awhile. Some banana esters emerge here as well, (again, assuming the clove esters may be lost in actual clove). Finally, a deep and granular earthy wheat dryness becomes the tomb to which the spices adjourn to renew their dark power. – Mike

Burnt dark malts embody the finish and really define this brew. It starts like a wheat, but the end is what sells it for me. A touch of smoke and some delicate hot spicing make for a great conclusion to this ale. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6 / B- 7.5 / R- 7

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Flavor balance:  6.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

There is actually a really solid pumpkin profile on this ale, and the character from the aroma leads you to believe this will be more pie than veggie, but it’s all so overpowered by the single-note clove spicing that it throws the whole thing totally out of whack. – Tim

Although these two elements of the pumpkin ale take a back seat in this brew, I do believe they are very well balanced. No spice stands above the other and they all help solidify the pumpkin flavor which becomes a great addition to this black wheat ale. – Rick

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

There is a kiss of sweetness that lights up each new sip, but overall, we lean to a smokey, spicy dryness. It draws you back fro more with each sip, not unlike the Vampyr’s hypnotic gaze, and believe me, the bite will be the last thing that you remember. – Mike

Some sugars profile in the body, bending into a sour tinge and finishing dry from the heavy handed spices–it’s not so much balanced as it is confused. – Tim

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  7

I’m not the biggest wheat beer fan, but I’m really enjoying this. I believe that, had the malt selection been different, however, this beer might sink to the depths among other forgettable pumpkin ales. – Rick

While not the boldest pumpkin offering around, Orlok succeeds in being both interesting and exceedingly session-able. The beer’s foundation is hearty enough to please any Germanophile, and manages to include a nice seasonal twist that compliments the essential character of the base style. I could definitely do a few of these. Plus, vampires dude. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Overall:  6.66

M- 7.58 / T- 5.83 / B- 6.33 / R- 6.66

 

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout – Harpoon Brewery

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One of the coolest things about craft beer is the spirit of freedom and experimentation that comes along with it. There are limitless options from the largest players, to the smallest local nano-brewers and home brewers, who will always have something new for you to sip on. Of course, it’s no different on the brewing end. All this variation comes about because craft brewers aren’t brewing for the masses, they are brewing for fun. What better way to get creative than to gather around a brew kettle and follow your muse with a few friends? Today’s brew keeps in that spirit, having started out as an experimental improvised beer, intended to be a porter, but as extreme things tend to get carried away, ended as a pumpkin imperial stout with every fixin’ within arms reach of the brew pot.

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Name:  Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Place of Origin / Brewer: Boston, MA / Harpoon Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Stout / 10.50%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin is brewed with dark brown sugar, pumpkin purée, black strap molasses, and dark malt, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

Perhaps one of the more simple labels we’ve seen with a harpoon skewering a pumpkin leaf with a big gourd in the background and an autumnal color scheme of greens and browns.  Nothing to differentiate it from the pack – but the label is refreshingly clean from a design standpoint. – Tim

It’s really cool how they incorporated the pumpkin vines leaf into the design, while still able to showcase a pumpkin theme. Also, it frames the label and title really well, and offers a nice prop to spear with a harpoon. – Rick

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Color:  6.5

This looks more like a very dark porter than a stout. Ruby notes show in all the edges of the glass, and it lacks that ultra full bodied appearance, seeming a touch thinner than most. – Mike (Editors note – We did not know the beer started as a porter project before tasting).

A creamy tan head with similarly hued lacing tops a dark espresso colored body with an amber glow towards the bottom of the glass.  The liquid is visually thinner in motion than its dark coloring lets on but in the realm of carbonation it is fairly still. – Brittney

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

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Aroma:  7

The nose is nice. It has a spiced rum quality of treacle and nutmeg. The roasted malt isn’t shouting at me, but it is there in the form of black coffee leanings. – Mike

The aroma isn’t overpowering, yet it still retains some complexity. A dry cacao nib presence is apparent on the nose mixed with notes of cinnamon and caramelized molasses. Somehow, all these flavors bring banana nut bread to mind almost immediately and now I’m salivating over this beer. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Mouth feel:  6

Thick and full bodied.  Soft with a velvet hand, and just a hint of carbonation on the tongue. – Tim

The carbonation of this beer is more prevalent and active than it looks, although the body is still pretty light and thin for a stout. The liquid seems to fall away in your mouth. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  7

There is a bit of a hefeweizen a banana note in here along with malty bread notes. The clove, admittedly, is probably just from the clove. It tastes like someone at Chiquita made pumpkin bread, and you bought it to accompany your iced latte. – Mike

Dark chocolate malts, burnt sugar and black strap molasses, clove, ginger and allspice all present themselves early with cinnamon on the back end.  The pumpkin is rich and caramelized, vanilla and almond notes and more bananas on the close.  This is a complex stout, with a lot of competing flavors that don’t always manage pure harmony – likely a symptom of brewing separate ales and then combining them. – Tim

Much like the aroma, your first taste has a bit of a fruity quality to it and then the roasted quality really opens up. This is where you can find a bit of a malt and cocoa note.  Eventually the very sweet molasses and brown sugar take over closing with a small smattering of pumpkin and cinnamon. – Brittney

Lots of spices to contend with here, but no single one seems too dominant, keeping the flavor profile a bit complex. They combine well with a flair of pumpkin and give this brew a nice fruity nature. Chocolate notes are subtly noticeable as well and help with a nice finish. – Rick

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

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Finish:  6.5

Long and bitter, perhaps even a bit too bitter, super dark chocolate and coffee notes on the finish along with more cloves and bananas. – Tim

The finish is alllll coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate. Like a Mexican ice cream frappe. The alcohol does have a bit of astringency in the mouth once the body eeks away. – Mike

M- 6 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance:  6

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

For all of the spices that are supposed to be featured I feel like this should be a lot more spice forward. That being said it is still leaning towards a spice dominant score because I can only find very tiny hints of the pumpkin. – Brittney

The depth of flavor is to be commending but the pumpkin—courtesy of a puree—is very much overtaken by the molasses and the spice. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

It’s on the sweeter end almost becoming too cloying, but the finish steps up and dries up the palate nicely. – Rick

This beer is very sweet. When molasses and brown sugar are listed on the bottle there is little room for anything but sweetness. – Brittney

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

There is a lot going on here, but it’s right up my alley with just the right amount of complexity. The stout aspect is really nice and the pumpkin flourishes just take it to another level. – Rick

The alcohol hit is a little bit of an ass kicker, especially since it doesn’t do a great job of hiding. While I enjoyed this a lot more than Harpoon’s UFO pumpkin offering, they still have some work to do. That said, I definitely give them credit for forward process, and a single serving is enjoyable to me. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Overall:  6.50

M- 5.75 / T- 7.25 / B- 6.08 / R- 7.00

Brewer Spotlight: Fal Allen – Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

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From a gorgeous landscape, to it’s clever native folk language (Boontling), Anderson Valley has a lot to offer. One of those more notable offerings is their craft beer. Founded in 1987 as a 10 barrel brew house, it has very successfully expanded to holding 100 and 85 gallon copper brew kettles with a green initiative that takes 40% of it’s energy directly from the solar panels on their roof.  Head brewer and Anderson Valley Brand Ambassador Fal Allen was kind enough to talk some shop with us, and he had more than a few interesting answers.

GPBR: What is Bahl Hornin’? Can you give us a little insight into the (antlered bear) logo?(For a further explanation of the language, check out the brewery’s video below).

FA:      Bahl Hornin’ means goods drinking and that’s what we do at Anderson Valley; make some good drinking beers. The Antlered bear (Bear + Deer = ……. Yeah, a Beer )

GPBR: Do you speak any Boontling? If so, what are some critical phrases every beer drinker should know?

 FA:     Yibe, a harp a wee slib of the ling (yes, I speak a little Boontling).

Bahl harpins for steinber horners ? well, firstly Boontling is a ling of a heelch of nonch harpins, so cardy grey matter on harpin, before harpin nonch or shattequaw to kimmies n appleheads, or eeldems – cause some feather leggy might get sommerset, or teepsed, and want ta cockin a fister.

So:

1) Yibe, dub horns here –  Yes, two beers here please (two beers because you should always buy one for your friend)

2) Eeee Tah, that’sa mightly bahl Steinber ! –  Damn, that mighty good beer !

3)I gotta kerk, Wheres the taipin nook ? (Ladies: Please, wheres the teebough nook)  – I have to make water, where’s the toilet (Ladies: Please where’s the ladies powder room)

4) Bahl Neech appleheads (or Kimmie), you all are deekin mightly bahl – Good evening ladies (or guys) you all are looking mighty good

5)    What? Nee stooks? Must be a wheeler, you’re bahlness n nee chuckish – wanna treek (I got some tigey tobes) – Oh, you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend? I find that hard to believe as smart and attractive as you are – would you like to go outside for a walk (I have some of Mendocino’s finest we could share)

6) And a course never horn n jape a moshe, (Never drink and drive)

GPBR: What inspired you to get your start in brewing?

FA: Drinking

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GPBR:  How do you come up with your beer concepts?

FA:   We try to design most of our beers as a group (I think you get better and more well rounded beers that way). We get together with any of our brewers that want to participate and we talk about different beers and then we kind of discuss out a beer and make a pilot batch. Once we try the pilot we might refine the flavors a bit more.

GPBR:   As I understand it, this is Anderson Valley’s first foray (with Fall Hornin’) into pumpkin ale territory. What made you guys decide to brew one up this year?

FA:      Well, this is not really our first foray. I made a pumpkin beer for the Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Festival a few years back. But our decision to make Fall Hornin was twofold – first the popularity of pumpkin beers has grown in the last few years and people kept asking for one and secondly one of our brewers (Christian Toran) made a great homebrew batch of Pumpkin beer last year. Christian’s homebrew was so good we decided to try his recipe out on our pilot brewery (~8 bbls). We like it again and so we made a few very minor changes and went full production with it.

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GPBR: What are your thoughts on Pumpkin ale as a style? Do you have a favorite one? What sets Anderson Valley’s apart?

FA:      Pumpkin beers are a phenomenon – People love them – but really the pumpkin itself has very little flavor and what flavor it has is very delicate, easily overwhelmed – thus pumpkin mostly has a supporting role in flavor contribution. What people seem to like most is the pumpkin spices in the beer. So making a good Pumpkin beer is all about your spice mix and not letting the spices overpower the underlying beer and the delicate pumpkin flavor.

Elysian’s pumpkin beers inspired me to make a pumpkin beer and so I guess I would say that Elysian’s Dark O’ the Moon is one of my favorites. They do a great job of intertwining the dark malts with the mild cinnamon spice and the pumpkin flavors. It is really a great beer.

What sets Anderson Valley’s Fall Hornin’ apart ? I think that we have blended the brown ale’s malt flavors nicely with a mild pumpkin pie spices and the delicate pumpkin flavor, and it is a little lower in alcohol than most Pumpkin beer. It is a very sessionable easy drinking beer.

GPBR: Now that there is a fall seasonal in the line, is there any chance of a sweet equinox themed Untappd badge?

 FA:     We are working on it so I would say yes, look for a spring seasonal from us next year (fingers crossed)

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GPBR: What do you feel makes Anderson Valley special versus other craft beers on the market?

FA:      Well, I think that all craft breweries are special in their own way, and that is one of the things that makes our industry such a great one. Anderson Valley brewery is unique in its special location. The Anderson Valley is a special place, there is nowhere else like it that I have ever been. I think that unique and special nature of our valley comes through in our beer.

GPBR: What has been your most satisfying moment as a brewer thus far?

FA:      The most satisfying moments as a brewer are those times when I am sitting anonymously in some pub (or at our pub) and I overhear someone saying that they really enjoy drinking our beers. I really like that. Making something that people enjoy, something that enhances their day – that for me is a very satisfying feeling.

GPBR: Are there any brewing trends currently going on that you like or dislike? Anything you’ve been aching to try out?

FA:      Like: Lower alcohol “session” beers with flavor  – I love those. And when I say session beer I mean below 5% ABV. Those are my favorite kind of beers right now. We have made a string of them over the last couple of years (I think about 10 of them, all draft only). And all of them have been delicious (IMHO). I like that I can drink 3 or 4 of them in place of the 2 or 3 that I can have of the 8 or 9% (or 11%) beers you find in some places. Big alcohol beers have their place, no doubt, but I am really enjoying drinking a bit lighter craft beer that still has great flavor. We are see a lot more of these lighter alcohol beers out there now so I do not think that I am the only one enjoying them.

Dislike: There’s not much I dislike when it comes to beer

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GPBR: Do you have a dream brew that might be a little too out there for the current market?

 FA:         At this time there is NOTHING that is too far out there (I once had a beer with goat placenta juice in it – Thank you, Larry –  So how much further out there can we get?)

As to what I might like to try – I am a big fan of using local and unusual spices. Of blending them into the beers, intermingled with the malt and hops flavors. I don’t want for these spices to overpower the underlying beer, but I want them to enhance the beer and give it a unique characteristic, especially if it is a characteristic unique to that local. There are hundreds of spices out there, most of them that we are not familiar with (in Asia, in South America, in Africa or NZ or India)  – all of them just waiting to get tried out is a delicious beer someday.  I am pretty excited so see those spices integrated craft brewing – creating locally flavored beers.

GPBR: What are the up / downsides of being a brand ambassador?

 FA:     Upside: travel,  excitement and meeting great new people. Downside: Lack of sleep, missing the relaxation of being at home, and smiling all the time.

GPBR: Any advice for the home brewers in our audience?

FA: You (well, your brewing) can never be too clean; keep it clean and use good quality fresh yeast, most of the rest of it is just the trimmings