Posts tagged ‘colorado’

Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Dry Dock Brewing

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This unsuspecting brew came to us at the vocal suggestion of one of our blog followers and we’re glad that we listened. Announced just yesterday from The Great American Beer Festival, Dry Dock Brewing took home 5 medals, including two gold for their Wee Heavy and Mild entries. Add in the fact that they took home Brewer of the year in 2009 (and a heap of other accolades you can check out on their website), and you’ve got all the little details that make trying a brew for the first time pretty dang exciting. For our money, this entry held up to their reputation and then some. Our advice? Keep your eyes on these folks. They’re poised to become kings of Colorado’s craft brew scene.


Name: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Aurora, Colorado / Dry Dock Brewing

Beer style / ABV%: Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 9.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale is brewerd with pumpkins in the mash and spiced delicately with saigon and indonesian cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace, and cloves.



Very cool illustrative label, with a skeletal pirate holding out a pumpkin in Hamlet-esque fashion while a collection of wicked jack-o-lanterns grin manically in the background. Soppy Halloween vibes are plentiful. – Tim

Definitely one of the cooler labels we’ve seen. A spooky dead pirate with a jack-o-lantern makes a nice center piece and flows well with the brewery’s theme. – Rick


Color: 6.5

The beer pours a glowing copper/orange hue. It’s a little hazy to look at but you can still see the gentle trickle of bubbles as they rise to the slightly soapy looking thin head. – Brittney

Mimicking the outer rind of a pumpkin, this coloration is a ripe orange hue. A slim head quickly fades to nothing and I’m left with a cloudy disconcerting orange color. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5


Aroma: 7.5

Pumpkin and malt punch through, adrift in a sea of spices. Ginger seems to poke out ahead of the others, followed by soapy nutmeg, piquant mace, and a hint of cinnamon. – Mike

Pumpkin and pie crust, with cinnamon, clove ginger and allspice, biscuit malt notes and a heady breath of alcohol. – Tim

M – 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7.5


Mouth feel: 7.5

Medium bodied and avoiding syrupy trappings. It’s actually rather dry. The carbonation breaks up slightly what would, otherwise, be still waters. – Mike

Pretty weighty and slick bringing a medium bodied beer to the heavier end. This is also one of those occasions where you can almost feel aspects of the spice open up in your mouth. – Brittney

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 8


Tasting notes: 8.5

Wow. This has a huge pumpkin presence. It’s got a fantastic grainy, creamy pumpkin pie body. The spices, though using everything in the cupboard, are totally reigned in and in check. It’s subtle, nuanced, and complete. It’s the opposite of big, in your face, pumpkin beer. It’s pumpkin, then beer, then spice; and it’s supremely balanced and executed. – Mike

Lots of caramel malt sweetness and a fair amount of cinnamon that overpowers the other spices in the brew. But clove, ginger and allspice all manage to peek though in the end. The pumpkin finally comes though on the body but it’s getting beaten into pie territory by the spice blend. That being said, I would rank this high on a level for what an pie spice aggressive Imperial Pumpkin Ale should taste like. – Tim

This plays the traditional pumpkin ale card well, if a little on the intense end. The spices are definitely on the forefront and the buttery malt you can smell in the aroma comes through nicely in the flavor. Being an Imperial, you have to expect to experience a good amount of alcohol but once your palate is acclimated to that it isn’t too offensive or overpowering. – Brittney

Nice pumpkin flavor is backed up by some impressive spicing. Mace and ginger work well together and stand out impressively here to dry and really crisp up the body. – Rick

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


Finish: 7.5

A lot of the cinnamon sticks with you at the end as far as the flavor of the finish goes, but the thing that really stuck with me is the sweet slick syrupy mouth feel. – Brittney

Like the mouthfeel, the finish is super smooth for a 9% ABV brew, with just a little noticeable heat coming off it. It’s also really clean tasting as well. Mace and ginger are awesome here leaving a nice crisp finish. – Rick

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


Flavor balance: 7.5

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

I’m saying this for the first time. It’s mostly pumpkin forward. The cavalcade of spices in this bottle must have been micro pipetted in. Astonishing balance of sweet malty pumpkin, whip cream and singed pie crust, with a spicy kiss of dryness. – Mike

Maybe a touch too heavy on the spice, but an overall great job for an imperial. Once again, I have to note my pleasure with the balance of ginger and mace on the finish. They do a great job of cooling off this imperial and keeps the sweetness in check. – Rick

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

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

Sweet, but not cloying, with some heat from the Imperial ABV on the close. Cinnamon is prevalent but not harsh enough to completely dry this one it. – Tim

Usually higher amounts of alcohol can help balance out a super sweet beer but in this case not so much. Any dryness here is from the spicing. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

When I’m looking for a ‘kick back and relax’ pumpkin beer, my go-to brews tend to be Southern Tier’s Pumking and Dogfish’s Punkin. This one could settle tight into the groove with that set as a superior everyday Pumpkin Ale. – Tim

While I’m all for extreme brewing, it’s nice to have an entry just hit the nail on the head without any bells and whistles. You’re not going to get sick halfway through the bottle from a sugar bomb, and you’re still going to feel your tongue afterwards without feeling like you drank cinnamon mouthwash. This is perfect for a meal pairing. It glows in it’s own tempered radiance. At 9%, it still drinks like a session ale, and the pumpkin malt body give it a certain seriousness for the beer snob in us all. Simply put, it’s impressive in it’s humility, valuing balance and detail over loud flavors or obnoxious intensity. It’s real, and it’s really good.

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 7.5


Overall: 7.50

M – 8.50 / T- 6.92 / B- 6.67 / R- 7.25

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


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


Name: Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project)

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

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

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



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

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


Color: 8

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

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

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5


Aroma: 8

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

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

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7


Mouth feel: 7.5

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

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

M – 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5


Tasting notes: 8

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

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

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

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

M – 9 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 6


Finish: 8

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

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

M – 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7.5


Flavor balance: 8

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

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

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

M – 10 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

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

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

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

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

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

M – 7.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 8.5 / R- 8


Overall: 7.92

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

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale – Blue Moon Brewing Co.

Whether or not you’re a fan of some of the larger produced seasonal ales, I have to take a minute to give them a little bit of credit where credit is due. While I understand that the smaller brewer has to rush and struggle to get the product out there in time for a season, and then quickly move on to the next, it’s certainly nice to be able to walk into a store around the end of the fall season and find the seasonal beers that were meant to celebrate the associated holidays. We’re more than aware that there’s been a lot of hub-bub on this topic, and it’s a tough call for us, particularly since we have limited resources to cover so much ground when the beers are released. Still, it’s nice to know you have a fall back to go with that pumpkin pie when you walk in the weekend before Thanksgiving, and for that, we have to say kudos.


Name:  Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Colorado, USA / Blue Moon Brewing Co.

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Crafted with autumns bounty of vine ripened pumpkin and flavors of cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Then brewed with a touch of wheat for a smooth, lightly spiced finish.



Maintaining the traditional Blue Moon label with its wood-cut styling, this seasonal bottle adds a burnt orange color to the mix and replaces the standard pine trees from the ubiquitous ‘Belgian White’ brew with a field of harvested pumpkins under a soft baby-blue sky.  Once again as a mass produced ale, branding doesn’t stray far from what the good folks at Coors have been pushing for the better part of a decade and a half. – Tim

It seems that once a brewery reaches a certain amount of popularity, the labels all tend to read the same and look very similar, throughout styles and even between different brewers.  This is no exception.  It’s just a quick color scheme change with a pumpkin thrown in for good measure. – Rick


Color:  6.5

A decadent orange – brown that brings the word MALTY to mind for me immediately, with a gently bubbling base that keeps an eternal hairline head on it. However, it does seem to be quite on the clear side, contrary to it’s non seasonal heritage. – Mike

My pint poured crystal clear, glowing amber in color and mildly bubbly. An initially airy head started heavy, and quickly dissolved away to no more than a thin layer of lacing. – Brittney

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


Aroma:  4.5

Rich gourd on a spicy bouquet carry over to a malty sweetness and add a definite fall air to this brew.  – Tim

Light on aroma, an earthy pumpkin is almost noticeable beyond a strongly present waxy malted wheat beer. – Brittney

Nutmeg defines the olfactory profile of the spices here, along with a touch of floral wheat and barely perceivable perfumed clove. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 3.5


Mouth feel:  5

At first it’s light, crisp, and refreshing.  There’s a foamy tingle over the tongue.  But, after a few more sips it becomes dull and uninspired. – Rick

Smooth with middling carbonation, a slight medium body that could be a little thin for some–compared to more robust fall ales–but I found it unexpectedly fuller than I was anticipating considering I’ve drank a couple hundred Blue Moon’s in my day. – Tim

It’s medium bodied as can be, with a citric acid astringency that doesn’t seem to be as downplayed as I would expect of the branding’s other offerings. – Mike

M- 5 / T- 5.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5


Tasting notes:  5

Actually, not nearly as sweet as I had expected, this ale seems to focus primarily on the dominance of the earthy gourd quality of the pumpkin, which is nicely complimented by the wheat, though doesn’t appear to be as floral as the nose would imply until much later on the tongue. This seems to create a bit of a beer chameleon effect for me though, as it’s hard to peg the shifting palate. Some might call it complex, but to me it’s a bit more clash. – Mike

I’m struck by how different this beer is from a archetypal Blue Moon beer. With bready malts, a blast of caramel and a lot (and by that I mean, too much) allspice in the mix it’s really not what you’d expect when you see an established label pop into the marketplace and take on a micro brew challenge.  And while I appreciate deviating from the norm, I still feel like it’s also missing the floral/citrus notes and natural wheatiness that I want when the label says “Blue Moon”.  However, it is a brew that is generally trying to get your attention and wake your taste buds up and so they get bonus points for that. – Tim

To preface, I really, really wanted to like this one.  Blue Moon is my “grocery store” beer of choice.  Much to my dismay, I feel like they were trying to go for the “earthy pumpkin” end of things and not the “sweet spiced pumpkin pie”.  On one hand a smart move for a beer that is known for a clean crisp flavor and finish, on the other hand, it doesn’t end up well.  The spices are lost and the earthiness of the “vine-ripened” pumpkin is easily mistaken for the malt of the wheat beer. – Brittney

It has a good wheat profile, but that is the most dominant aspect here, leaving no room for any spices to really stand out, except maybe the clove.  It may be a good fall “harvest” beer, but it fails to capture the essence of pumpkin. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 3


Finish:  5

I’m left with a small bite and overall lackluster pumpkin flavor.  It does go down smooth, but becomes a little too cloying about halfway through the beer. – Rick

The allspice and clove seem to play in a way that comes across unpleasantly sour to me , more like something has spoiled, than something intentionally brusque on the senses. It does eventually resolve to a more classical dry wheat finish though, which helps a little. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 4.5


Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

There is no hiding that pumpkin takes precedence over spice here.  It’s even implied in the description on the bottle. – Brittney

Blue Moon gives some good gourd, and I welcome that the pumpkin is distinct enough in the mash to be notable.  But, the allspice dominance pretty much nuked my palate leaving very little room to identify any other players in the game. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 2.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

It’s dry and tartly like an English prostitute. – Mike

It leans on the dry side and shies away from being sweet at all, which is not appealing here. – Rick

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Sadly, this just makes me appreciate the better qualities of a regular Blue Moon a lot more, and comes off as a heavier offering with less appeal than it’s sister brew. – Mike

This is a good inoffensive beer, I’d kill a few off with some food or at a really smoky bar where I don’t care too much about really savoring a brew. – Tim

Only by the fact that there really isn’t anything to hate about it nor anything to like, and you’re probably sitting there with the rest of the six pack. – Brittney

M- 3 / T- 6 / B- 5.5 / R- 1.5


Overall:  5.08

M- 4.83 / T- 5.83 / B- 5.83 / R- 3.83

Small Patch Pumpkin Ale – Tommyknocker Brewery

If you’re just joining us welcome! Please flip back to the beginning of the posts if you’ve got a second on your hands, and check out exactly how all this works. Those of you that are returning, let me tell you, drinking beers is such a hard job…


Name: Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Colorado, USA – Tommyknocker Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Brown Ale, 5.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Hailing from the mountain town of Idaho Springs, Colorado this mining themed harvest libation features pumpkin with a touch of spice, and interestingly, molasses, brewed in the spirit of the elusive Tommy knockers, elfin creature who protected miners and caused mischief.



Nice design work featuring the Tommy knocker elf as a throwback to the brewery’s mining heritage. The color is the only thing that really gives it away as a pumpkin beer though. It could be easy to miss this one on a crowded shelf. – Mike

Maintaining branding with their other beers, the Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale is a graphics driven label focused on fonts.  But that’s not a negative criticism. The very ‘pumpkin’ base of the label offset with the lighter orange and the deep green makes for a very appealing and clean design and the ragged styling of the fonts, easily conveys the DIY craft ethic behind the brewery. – Tim

Not particularly eye-catching in any way, but there’s interesting background patterns,  texture on the lettering, and the muted elf drawing which together save the label from being too boring. – Erich


Color: 7

This is a gorgeous brown ale with hints of amber and red, much deeper than I had anticipated since the beer doesn’t specifically identify itself as a brown. A moderate pour gives off a single-finger creamy foam head, that settles down to a simple white ring, with very little lacing – Tim

Not what I expected from a pumpkin ale at all.  Strong, dark coloration really compliments the use of molasses as a major ingredient.  The head had a nice frothy appearance that was light and airy. – Rick

Deep burnt amber with fiery hues. Almost filtering out all light. Perhaps a quality of the molasses?  – Mike

M – 6 / T- 7.5 / K- 8 / R-6  / E – 6


Aroma: 5.5

A pleasant hue of cinnamon on the nose. Clove is present but not screaming. Just a hint of allspice. It’s very subdued though. Reminiscent of that single slice of leftover pumpkin pie when you pull the saran wrap off the next day. – Mike

Pumpkin and Cinnamon ease forward as the most recognizable specialty elements, but the balance is especially in-line with the nutty and sticky sensations one would expect from a brown ale. – Tim

Very little scent comes off this ale. Though, from what I can smell it’s a very light hint of molasses. – Keenan

M – 3.5 / T- 6.5 / K- 5.5 / R-  5.5/ E – 6


Mouth feel: 7

Creamy and smooth as all get out. Very light and refreshing. – Mike

Very soft and smooth. Goes down just as well. Perhaps one of the smoothest beers I have ever tasted. – Keenan

Expecting a more syrupy feel due to the molasses, but this was surprisingly a bit watery.  The spices tickle a bit, but never become astringent.  – Erich

M – 6 / T- 7 / K- 10  / R- 7 / E – 5


Tasting notes: 7

A perfect way of showing off pumpkin in a new light! The molasses complements the pumpkin and spices wonderfully with a very light and rich taste. This will be a treat for lighter beer drinkers. – Keenan

Serving as quite the conundrum, Tommyknocker have crafted themselves a pumpkin ale that I’m not sure I’d leap right out and certify as a pumpkin ale.  It is however a really fine brown ale.  The pumpkin notes are subtle and mostly in the nose.  You get a touch, and I mean a touch, of the cinnamon again as it passes the lips, but overall the malt, the slight sweetness, and depth from the molasses, seem to be masking the overall pumpkiness–perhaps to the detriment of tradition–however, if the exception to the rule is this good, I’m not going to take them to task too much for it. – Tim

What’s nice here is that in terms of pumpkin and spices, nothing stands out too strongly.  Where in other  pumpkin brews the cinnamon or nutmeg really stand out, there’s a nice medley of different spices here that make the Tommyknocker more complex and also more subtle.  I get more allspice and cumin in the mix and that helps this brew stand out.  The base strikes me as a typical brown ale, souped up with pumpkin and spices. – Erich

M – 6.5 / T- 7 / K- 8 / R- 6 / E – 6


Finish: 7.5

The creaminess from the mouth lingers pleasantly leaving an aftertaste of cool whip with the allspice and nutmeg popping at the end. Might be subdued for some, but I really enjoyed it. – Mike

Smooth finish that lingers long on the tongue with a touch of sweet and a touch of sour that had me headed back to the glass for another sip.  Faint spices again at the close, make me think that Tommyknocker means for this beer to be very restrained. If that is the case, then bravo, they have delivered discretion in spades. – Tim

A smooth ale with a smoky finish makes this beer easy to enjoy. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 7 / K- 9.5 / R- 6.5 / E – 6


Flavor balance: 7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:6

It’s easy on the pumpkin, but what really makes this beer stand out is the balancing of the spices and molasses. – Rick

M – 5.5 / T- 4 / K- 7 / R- 6 / E – 8

–         Sweet / Dry balance:8

This is a superior example of a well-crafted brown ale, with the molasses providing just the right amounts of sweetness.  Well done indeed. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 7 / K- 9 / R- 7 / E – 8

–         Multiple Drinkability? 8

The spices don’t dominate or build too heavily on the palate, and the lingering maltiness is pleasantly subtle.  While it may not be all that memorable of a beer, it is very easy to put away a few in a short time span. – Erich

M – 8.5 / T- 6.5 / K- 10 / R- 6.5 / E – 9


Overall: 6.92

M – 6.17 / T- 6.67 / K- 8.42 / R- 6.25 / E – 6.25