Posts tagged ‘Dark’

Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac Scaled Edit

 

One of the styles we don’t see to often in the pumpkin category is the elusive, and often divisive, sour ale. Leave it to the good folks at Almanac Beer Co to follow up last years (and coincidentally one of our highest ranking beers to date) Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine with a new entry, Dark Pumpkin Sour. Though they share the same humble roots, gorgeous artwork, and barrel times, they couldn’t stylistically be any further apart! So, if you can find one, crack it open and compare notes with us, and if you can’t, you’re probably going to want to find one – so keep trying!

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Name: Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Sam Jose, CA / Almanac Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Dark Pumpkin Sour / 7.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Designed as a counterpoint to the sweet and savory items on a fall dinner table, Dark Pumpkin Sour is brewed with caramelized organic heirloom pumpkins from Bodega Bay, pie spices, and then aged in used red wine barrels for a year.

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Packaging:

Almanac should probably win the award for the most classically inspired bottling each year, with their wood carved motifs and calligraphic logo they inspire an old world appeal that really carries the legacy of colonial pumpkin ales into the new millennium. – Tim

There isn’t a lot more to say about Almanac’s design than it is simply a work of art. I would seriously hang both their iconic woodcut tree logo and the hop bine entwined “Farm to Barrel” designs on my wall proudly. They must really like it too because there isn’t a whole lot differentiating this from their other Pumpkin Barleywine offering appearance wise. A quick color change from orange to deep turquoise on the inch wide bottom label is the only major difference. But then, why fix what ain’t broke?

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Color: 7.5

Rich, deep mahogany and plum with glinting copper highlights where the light happens to pierce the shadows, and a tan head that fights to stick around. Murky like a bog. – Brittney

This sour ale pours a fluffy light brown head that billows over an opaque body. Root beer brown with some earthy tones. Looks quite impressive. – Rick

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

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Aroma: 7.5

Pronounced Brettanomyces barnyard funk, cereal grains, pinot noir grapes, and dark fruits, meet a smatter of perfumed wood and slight porter-y roast. – Mike

This definitely has a great barrel aged nose to it, imparting some nice woody elements amongst a musty roasted character. Red wine is another bold aroma that starts sour, but has an enticing sweetness to it, and I can’t wait to try this beer. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Mouth feel: 7.5

A study in contradiction, the dark voluptuous body belies a crisp highly acidic sour ale, that explodes on the tongue causing your taste buds to detonate with the shock of an atomic warhead. – Tim

Instant pucker on the first sip. It’s like a barrage on the senses, but it’s a light sour tartness that envelopes the tongue while a wisp of sweetness tickles it. Interestingly, the medium body contains a full flavored punch that’s easy to drink. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Intense citric acidity with pepper, wood, and a zesty spice on the fringes. As it warms dry, dark wine qualities appear alongside notes of pine, vegetal summer squash, and touches of caramel and cinnamon. – Mike

Crisp and bright, the pumpkin is tamed and even lost a bit in the bright lemon pucker notes. As a complement to a thick, rich pumpkin pie with a dense homemade whipped cream this ale would cut right though the gluttony and refresh your palate between each bite. Hint of allspice carries the ale slightly into the holiday season, but as a drink designed to complement a dessert rather than replicate, it gets high marks for contrasting tendencies. – Tim

There are moments where the pumpkin is fighting to show through, but for the most part all I’m tasting is sour. As it warms the spices begin to appear along side roasted pumpkin seed and wood and I can see why they recommend having this with pie. It needs the savory sweetness as an accompaniment. – Brittney

It’s like a sweet and sour pumpkin with a light watery red wine swirl. Great compliments, but is very atypical for a pumpkin offering. As it warms towards room temperature, the beer mellows and I’m starting to discover more elements of sweet cinnamon within the oaken melange. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9

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Finish: 8

The finish is really were you get most of the flavor. The acidity begins to withdraw and pumpkin really comes through, almost as an afterthought. Roast and touches of caramel qualities as well as some woody vanilla. – Brittney

Blade mace and resinous cedar wood give way to a long, long, tart decay that settles out with echoes of the fork full of pumpkin pie that I never actually ate. Why, oh why do you elude me you devious phantom pastry? – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

While the pumpkin takes a backseat to the sour’s peacock levels of non-subtlety, the notes on the nose and the color imparted in the ale are not to be missed. The spice on display is mainly a function of the wine barrel aging and as such adds tremendous depth to proceedings. – Tim

The pumpkin here is less of a defined quality than it is a referential. This brew begs to be set alongside your dessert course at Thanksgiving, and the spice is far more, but still subtly, notable. – Mike

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

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Tart, dry, and definitively sour. How dry and sour? The balance to the cabernet-sour is roast and wood. Sucka’s dryyy. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

This is a fantastic and complex sour. I only wish there was more to get better acquainted with. – Rick

Cutting though a turkey weighted, gravy laden and desert friendly feast, this ale would do well at your next family gathering. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.67

M- 9.00 / T- 7.67 / B- 5.92 / R- 8.08

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Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout – Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon copy

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

Pumpkinator – St. Arnold Brewing Company

St Arnold

While I don’t think any of us here at the GPBR are particularly religious, it’s hard to contest that we might be a little more inclined if our local bishop was a miracle worker with a mash rake. Arnold of Soissons (or Arnulf of Oudenberg depending on certain literary-historical versions and embellishments) was supposedly one such holy man. The patron saint of Hop-pickers, brewers, and bartenders, Arnold took many opportunities to shun titles, only to be let back into them before settling down to retire and found his own brewery / abbey. We can’t personally attest to all of the miracles and stories time has attributed to the man behind the saint, but historians generally agree that this brewer did a lot of good for the city of Oudenberg by encouraging the peasants to drink beer, thus providing a boil sterilized, pathogen free source of nourishment and hydration for all. To this day he is honored with festivals, and the famous parade in Brussels “Day of Beer”, so, all in all, today’s brewery has chosen wisely in adopting his moniker for their Texas based craft beer branding.

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Name:  Pumpkinator

Place of Origin / Brewer: Houston, TX / St. Arnold Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Stout / 10%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Originally released in 2009 as Divine Reserve No. 9, St. Arnold is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed with pale 2 row, caramel, and black malts. Joining the mix is pumpkin, molasses, brow sugar, and spices, along with a cascade and liberty hops. It took silver in the 2012 World Beer Cup for style and has the distinction of being St. Arnold’s most expensive beer to brew.

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Packaging:

Saint Arnold handles a sudsy mug of beer as he gestures to a star in a haunted night sky that is oddly enough in the shape of the great state of Texas. – Brittney

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Color:  7

This beer is black as night with a toasted tan head and floating yeast sediment. Once the head dwindles on we are left with picturesque thin lacing that sticks around. – Brittney

Not quite impenetrable darkness (I can see a touch of light on top when I raise the glass) and a halo of ivory. Is this a sinner or saint? – Mike

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

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Aroma:  6.5

Smoky roasted dark malt with sweet cinnamon and cumin on the nose – it rather reminds me of a chilly Thanksgiving spent with my Aunt and Uncle in Mobile, chopping wood for the fire and gorging myself on yams and pumpkin pie. – Tim

If smooth had an aroma I would say that it is this.  A good bit of cream and then cinnamon, cinnamon, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Very spice forward. – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

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Mouth feel:  7

It’s not motor oil, but it is nicely viscous. A touch of the ABV shoes through, but it has enough spine to stand up to the devil himself. – Mike

This is a big body beer with a lush, soft, creamy mouth-feel and mild carbonation.  It’s an imperial stout all the way. – Tim

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

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Tasting notes:  6.5

Saigon cinnamon, nice allspice, and sugared pumpkin forward, slowly melting away into bitter spice and smoke with a big hit of cocoa. Kinda like the terminator, minus the chocolate. – Mike

Bare with me here for a moment, this Stout seriously tastes just like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal—and I mean that in the best possible “stay up all night, watching old movies, eating it right out of the box” kinda way.   The addition of light cocoa notes and heat from the high ABV make this a beer for sipping, it’s intense, and maybe even a touch cloying from the sweetness, but the profile really opens up when the temperature raises a little. – Tim

Initially this tastes just like a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch. No kidding. It’s malty, bready, milky and then all cinnamon and brown sugar. As it warms you get just the smallest bit of pumpkin sweetness and then more spices at the end. – Brittney

It’s a nice light stout with some chocolaty notes. The addition of sweet pumpkin flavor just makes it that much better. – Rick

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

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Finish:  6

The bitterness comes out to play big time here with dark malt, chocolate roast like 97% cacao, and a nice imperial funk that would make a Czar proud. – Mike

There’s a cinnamon and alcohol mixture that is dominating here giving this brew a really hot finish. It’s overwhelming, and I’m reminded of red hot candies mixed with coffee. Except this coffee flavor is like hour old coffee. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance:  6.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

If you close your eyes and focus on the taste of pumpkin you can find it.  For the most part this is a very spice heavy beer. – Brittney

The spicing is in your face, and slightly heavy handed. The pumpkin flavor is decent, but it seems to be overshadowed here by cinnamon, nutmeg, and perhaps molasses. – Rick

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

It’s sweet in body, with decided breakfast cereal overtones but dry on the finish from the cinnamon and the ABV.  The issue is, it’s just a touch too sweet and just a touch too dry at times during the drinking process. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. – Tim

I am impressed with the s balance in this stout. The brew starts out sweet, and as it makes its way over the tongue, it finishes with a nice dryness. – Rick

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  6

If you’ve got a hankering for a dark, malty, actually taste the pumpkin brew the size of Texas, I reckon you can put a few rounds of this heavenly hell-beast away. – Mike

Definitely more of a dessert beer can’t say with certainty that this one is a prime candidate for a revisit, the High ABV and what becomes a somewhat monotonous flavor profile makes the original bottle more than enough for one sitting.  It’s solid, but I prefer my Imperial Stouts to have a broader range. – Tim

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

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Overall:  6.58

M- 7.41 / T- 6.67 / B- 6.50 / R- 5.67

Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Gourdgeous

Located in an old Norton Air Force Base Building in Redlands, California just across the street from the Municipal Airport, Hangar 24 is certainly appropriately named. Further, they aren’t just messing around with their Local Fields series beers. When they tell you the pumpkins are locally sourced, they’re referring to the fact that they are grown within eyesight of the brewery. (The Local Fields series also features an array of fun and exotic local items such as wine grapes, dates, blood oranges, spruce, and bing cherries). But hey, we’re here to talk about pumpkin beer. So without further ado…

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Name: Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Redlands, CA / Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Strong Pumpkin Porter / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Gourdgeous uses 1,000 lbs of pumpkins grown at Larry Jacinto Farms just a half mile from the brewery,  hand collected, cut, and seeded by local volunteers, and then roasted in giant ovens compliments of local catering company Q-Works BBQ. It’s then turned into a rich strong porter where molasses and spices join the mix.

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Packaging:

A rustic old country style label promises of farm fresh craft beer brewed from pumpkins grown only a half-mile from the brewery.  I always appreciate a label that takes the time to inform the consumer – this is even more important in the crowded pumpkin beer field.  Take note brewers. – Tim

Nicely done label, simply descriptive and vintage looking.  Staying true to the brewery theme of aviation, you could easily swap the gourd on this label for an airplane flying over the locally grown pumpkin patch. – Brittney

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Color:  6

Put the scarlet letter on this hussy. Garnet and cola pervade this brew, barley touching on brown except in the shadows. Very nice clarity. – Mike

It’s nice and dark upon first glance, but when I really got in there to check it out, I found myself peering into a very soda like concoction. I like everything about this beer except when I hold it to the light I’m misled by the slight glow of molasses color that sways the illusion of root beer. The bone dry head, if not denser than a root beer, doesn’t help this misconception either. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 6

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Aroma: 8 

The nose is loaded with rich caramel and pumpkin spices that with the malt create an overall smooth sense, but brown sugar and molasses are also both very prevalent bringing sweetness to the forefront of your expectations. – Brittney

The base here is a nice porter up front. My nose is picking up decent amounts of sweet vanilla bean with a decadent mixture of dry dark chocolate for a fine finish. My initial reaction is great porter bouquet, but I’m missing the pumpkin element. – Rick

M – 8 / T- 9 / B- 7.5 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  7.5

The body here would be deceiving here based on looks alone. It’s quite full, envelopes the tongue in a decadent wash, and has only the foggiest notion of it’s upward ABV. Quite a bit heavier than a brown, but still evading the boggy trappings of an imperial stout, style wise, I’ve got to call this flawless. Bravo. – Mike

Full end of medium bodied without being syrupy or carbonated enough to notice. The noted ingredients and character of this beer could have given a little more richness and room to shine on a heavier more still platform. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 8.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

An unexpected burst of sweetness joins chocolate roast, creamy pumpkin, and a good bit of spice (but not overwhelmingly so). It’s like finishing a Cool Whip heaped slice of pie with a mug of hot cocoa, and it takes me back to my childhood. This could be a lovely dessert beer, or just straight up dessert, and, admirably, it leaves the mouth with just a smidge of lingering sugar and spice. Perfect piquant Harmony. – Mike

 I have to say that although it’s not traditional, I love it when a pumpkin beer can include dark chocolate notes well, and this one does.  Although it’s an overall sweet option with lots of rich molasses and brown sugar, it does have a decent (I wouldn’t say strong) presence of porter roast as well as a good notion of tasting actual pumpkin. – Brittney

Did someone say decadent? This is a top notch porter, delivering on every single promise the aroma has to offer, it’s thick and chewy which stands in direct contrast to the color of the ale. Masses of burnt caramel and molasses, roasted pumpkin and baking spices are mixed with earthy sage and rosemary notes.  It’s a full-on assault making this craft beer more of a meal than a beverage. – Tim

This is a perfect porter style with bold in your face flavoring. Sweet nutmeg, vanilla, dark chocolate and molasses all commingle well offering a grand base for the roasted caramel and molasses flavors to solidify the pumpkin porter. A very tasty brew indeed. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 9.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Finish: 8.5

Long and sweet, boozy and chocolaty, I can tell the ABV in this beer is on the higher end of the scale, but even with that heady afterthought, nothing could keep me from a second glass. – Tim

This one starts off sweet, but the finish really holds it all together with that dry dark chocolate. It ends up being really smooth with just a slight burn from the 8.5% ABV almost masking it’s strength. – Rick

M – 9.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 9

The spicing here is masterful. Yes, it is quite spiced, but as easily as this could be a sugar bomb, it is firmly wrestled into submission, and resolves exquisitely. It’s rare to find the beer that doesn’t over do something, AND doesn’t shy away from being a spiced beer. This one hits it out of the park. – Mike

I tend to like my pumpkin pie in a bottle to favor the ale side a bit more, but this is a nearly perfect blend of roasted gourd and all the classic spices with a shot of booze to top it all off.  It’s more like bourbon pumpkin pie—if that were a real thing.  In fact, can we make that a real thing? – Tim

M – 9.5 / T- 10 / B- 8 / R- 8

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Just a tad on the sweet syrupy side, but it’s well masked by the hops and dark chocolate finish. – Rick

The only dryness here comes a few minutes later on the finish due to the 8.5% ABV, otherwise this is decadence in all is abject glory. – Tim

M – 9 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

         Multiple Drinkability? 8

Between the sweetness, alcohol, and malt I would probably stick one or two; but I would enjoy them whole-heartedly. – Brittney

This is surprisingly approachable for a fuller bodied, boldly flavored beer. I’m left with neither regret, nor bellyache, and it eludes the mentality of some of the heavier “great taste, so damn filling you’ll never finish the bottle” ales floating around. Do you need more than one bottle provides? I’ll let you be the judge, but for me, it’s pretty darn tempting. Sadly, I only have one. – Mike

M – 7.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.83

M – 8.67 / T- 8.08 / B- 7.00 / R- 7.25

Gourdgeous footer

Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale – Anderson Valley Brewing Company

fall hornin

Thar’ she blows. It’s our first review of 2013 and a little added bonus. Our first Brewer Spotlight interview! At a few points along the season we will be chatting with the fine folks that make the pumpkin ales that we all love to drink, and the first to oblige us is Anderson Valley’s very own brew master, Fal Allen. So read the review, and click on through to the interview when you’re done to learn how to pick up chicks in Boontling!

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Name:  Fall Hornin’

Place of Origin / Brewer: Boonville, CA / Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 6.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. Malts: Pale Two-Row, Maris Otter, Munich, Crystal 120L, Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Puree Hops: Bravo

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Packaging:

The can art is readily noticeable as an Anderson Valley beer. From the simple text, to the bold colors, and the fabled antlered bear, it is very recognizable. Notable additions to this brew being the orange background with a green top, and a small colony of bats flying around the beer. – Rick

            Anderson Valley continues their tradition of distinct, if tongue in cheek, branding. Their trademark 10 point Beer (see our Brewer Spotlight with Fal Allen) looks a bit friendlier on the bottle than the cans, and the usually verdant green gulch is shadowed under an ominous orange twilight complete with a colony of bats ascending into the night. – Mike

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Color:  8

Not entirely opaque yet definitively dark with a nice tight cream head that lasts. Drink it down and get a beautiful layer of lacing that sticks around. – Brittney

Right away I’m greeted with a highly appealing, very dark amber colored, and seemingly dense concoction. Well, it’s a burnt caramel tinted amber, but appealing none the less. The pillowy foam head also hides beneath it a very clean looking, semi transparent beer that is just dying for me to jump right into. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8

A dizzying display of rich caramelized pumpkin and sugar on the noise with allspice, cinnamon and bready yeast notes. – Tim

A Strong backbone of caramel and dark malt as well as very earthy pumpkin flesh. Nutmeg and allspice stand forward, with just a hint of smoky pie crust and butter. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  6.5

The mouth-feel follows closely to what we see in presentation of color and appearance when poured.  It’s seemingly heavy and thick for a second but essentially medium to light bodied and crisp with just a touch of carbonation. – Brittney

This is interesting because the look and aroma suggest a full bodied intense beer, and what we have is actually delicate on the tongue.  It’s really smooth because of this, and seems to be dominant on the front of the palate despite having a bitter finish. – Rick

M- 7 / T-5 / B- 7 / R- 65

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Tasting notes:  7

Leaning to the bitter side of center, this pumpkin ale really puts it’s weight into the malt. The spicing plays off of this nicely, complimenting with a zesty and pungent zing rather than a cinnamon sweetness.  It reminds me of a crisp fall evening stroll in the mountains taking in the musty leaves and earth, cool air, and smoking chimneys. – Mike

The immediate flavors of roasted pumpkin are twisted a bit by a burnt sugar bitterness that masks a great deal of the nutmeg and cinnamon that is trying desperately to escape the body.  Even with the pronounced bitters, the primary issue with the ale is that the intrinsic flavors one would demand from a traditional pumpkin ale are not bold enough to compensate and thusly they get lost a bit. – Tim

Mostly a case where ‘what you smell is what you get’.  A solid ale with a touch of pumpkin, more cinnamon and spices.  Not as much caramel in the flavor but definitely a good bit of malt. – Brittney

My initial tasting is very good and intense, but I was worried my palate might get too fatigued by the spicing. In the end it balanced out and I looked forward to each new sip. – Rick

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

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Finish:  6.5

This finishes almost like a porter. Bitter but clean, with a powerful spice that dramatically fades on the swallow. The pumpkin shows here to me best, reminiscent more of a squashy side dish than a dessert. This would pair well with poultry and starches. – Mike

The bitterness carries over to the finish, leaving the ale a little stronger on the palate than the ABV would lead you to believe.  Not much pumpkin on the finish, actually its profile tends to lean a little more on the grains and nuts end of the spectrum  – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 5 / B- 7.5 / R- 6.5

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Flavor balance:  6.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5.5

Pumpkin is great on the nose but takes a back seat to some heavy spicing here. Likewise, the cinnamon seems to dry out the finish nicely if not a tad too much. – Rick

The nose would leave you thinking this ale was gonna be a magical combination of balance, but the reality of the body is far less conclusive, with everything getting a little to lost in the mix. – Tim

M- 6.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

Nicely in check, the combination of the dark malt and bravo hop’s floral bittering hold this beer in that transition between crisp summer ale and heavy winter beer. It’s a great representation of the harvest transition, and really, isn’t that what a seasonal beer is all about? – Mike

Balanced pretty well, it seems to finish smooth with a nice dryness, and some bittering often reserved for pale ale styles. A tiny bit cloying but not enough to be off-putting. – Rick

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  7

This one may be a ‘what you smell is what you get’ in taste, it is not ‘what you see is what you get’. Normally with something that presents itself pretty heavy I would say one would do but this one surprisingly convinces that a couple could be an option. – Brittney

It’s a non-offensive ale, with far more highlights in the nose than in the actual ale itself.  At 6% ABV is not going to bother you to session this bad boy.  But, for me, I’d pass on picking up another round. – Tim

Being one of my favorite brewers, Anderson Valley seems to nail it every time with outstanding beers, and this is no exception. Fall Hornin’ is the adult version of pumpkin ales and proves once again that you don’t need a big fancy bottle to deliver a great tasting beer. – Rick

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

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Overall:  7.08

M- 7.33 / T- 5.92 / B- 7.42 / R- 7.33

Anderson Valley 1

T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

treat1 WEB

Today sounds Round Two of our way, way up there beer double feature, and it’s a doozy. Sure to keep you warm on any winter night, (or spring, summer, and fall if you happen to be in Alaska), this Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter scored in spades with us, and to anyone who knows how much we tend to disagree, that should mean something. So raise a glass to the season, and take a solid draught of this black as the devil’s heart concoction. If you can find some, that is.

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Name:  T.R.E.A.T. (The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Alaska, USA / Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter / 7.8%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This demented ale took home the Gold at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, and is made with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

A wicked pumpkin king sits defiantly in front of the wrought iron gates of his spooky house on the hill while stars and lightning bolts illuminate the blackened sky behind him.  TREAT screams of a whimsical Halloween ale – right down to the tombstone proclamation decreeing this brew an Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter!   Have four simple words ever sounded so good strung together? – Tim

Very playful label, just like their Trickster. Cartoon style art with a colorful character of a pumpkin presenting a tombstone with what appears to be a haunted mansion at the top of the hill in the background. It’s cute. – Rick

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Color:  8

Black as midnight (if you don’t live in Alaska), with just the slightest of ruby hues and a head that’s off white enough that you don’t want to know what kind of snow it is. – Mike

This is a great pitch black fully opaque porter. It’s so dark, and I love it. The super light coffee colored head disappears quickly, but make for a delicious looking brew. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  7.5

Smells of espresso, bitter chocolate, and malt. There is also a faint aroma of a molasses and a black strap rum quality towards then end of the scent. – Brittney

Dark, Dark bitter chocolate and roasted malt. We’re close to stout territory here. No sign of pumpkin or spice, but vanilla is making it’s way through the mix. Mouthwatering, none the less. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

A surprisingly assertive carbonation level for a porter, which brings forth an interesting contrast–one that allows the fuller medium bodied nature of the beer to bounce more freely on the tongue.  Intriguing. – Tim

Considering the darkness and depth of the color of this beer the medium body is thinner than I expected also there is a surprising amount of carbonation.  I expected thick still and syrupy and got medium bodied and active. I guess it is a porter after all. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8.5

Sweet cinnamon, pumpkin, and chocolate peanut butter fudge. Like grandma forgot that Reese’s weren’t an ingredient in pumpkin pie, and served it up with Hershey’s syrup on top. Awesome roasty goodness. – Mike

Thick with roasted malts, lush pumpkin, cocoa nibs, blackberries, dark fruit jam and molasses blending with a notable touches of cinnamon, vanilla and  clove.  The beer envelops, it’s sweet and bitter all at once with enough pronounced notes of alcohol heat to keep you warm on the long sunless Saturday’s during Alaska’s famed 30 days of night. – Tim

Quite bitter at first taste, this beer then mellows to slightly smooth and slick and all the flavors of the nose arrive with bitter chocolate, espresso, sweet molasses and a surprising presence of cinnamon. – Brittney

A very well balanced brew indeed. Cocoa nibs, a touch of clove, and ripe pumpkins all build upon the great sweetness that holds this brew together. – Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

Long and boozy, bitter and sweet but never bittersweet.  The carry over spice from cinnamon and clove linger but the most prominent note on the close is chocolate and coffee. – Tim

The pumpkin shines here with almost a smoky quality to the back end. It is dry on the finish, but a tad sweeter than I had expected. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 6.5 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

 

We are quite in check here. Though the spicing is subtle, it accentuates the beer, rather than defining it. – Mike

Complex and challenging, the pumpkin is overshadowed by the bold nature of the beer, the chocolate malts while imparting some notes in the body and bouquet were not distinct enough for a definitive “chocolate porter”.  But overall this is still a pretty great beer. – Tim

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

Slick and sweet; the bitterness of the chocolate and the finish are not enough to contend with the fact that this is leaning towards the sweet side – Brittney

It leans sweet, but the dryness helps reel it all back in. Its not cloying either, which is something that had me worried early on. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

I love pumpkin ales, and chocolate porters / stouts. This is an insane beer that could be a dessert for any holiday meal. And the appetizer, aperitif, and courses… – Mike

This beer is fun and unique enough to have as a part of a tasting flight to show some of the differences you can present a pumpkin beer, but I don’t think I would have more than one. – Brittney

This is awesome for an imperial porter, and one of my favorite pumpkin beers so far. I would try to drink as many as I could get my hands on. – Rick

Strong and Robust, I think a session of this beer would not only blow my plate apart, it would likely leave me in a coma that might last as long as the midnight sun itself.  Still, I’d go another round with this treat any day.  – Tim

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 9

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Overall:  7.75

M- 8.83 / T- 7.67 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.50

treat2 WEB

Fermentation Without Representation – Epic Brewing Co. / DC BRAU

Whether it’s Black Friday or Super Tuesday, boy do we have a beer for you. A collaboration between Epic Brewing and DC Brau, this new entry into their Exponential Series might be a limited release, but it’s worthy of the masses. A tribute to those DC residents who have no say in congress, and the Salt Lake residents that feel they can’t get out from under the thumb of a resident political power, (which yields up to a 72% markup due to sin taxes), and we’d say the inspiration is very close to home for these two brewers.

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Name:  Fermentation Without Representation

Place of Origin / Brewer: Utah, USA / Epic Brewing Co. & DC BRAU collaboration

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Porter / 8.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  300 pounds of pumpkin per 15-barrel batch (Totaling 600lbs of pumpkin puree across all batches), are added to the mash tun, the brew kettle and the fermenter, along with Melding Crystal, Chocolate, Munich and Black malts. Other ingredients include .2 pounds of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and whole cloves each, topped with about 1,000 vanilla beans that the DC Brau crew had to slice open by hand.

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Packaging:

This is a graphics intensive label done in a raw unfinished paper which adds texture and a very craft-beer vibe to the overall affair.  Each bottle is stamped with the release number—our batch was Release #5. – Tim

Despite the lack of a pumpkin on here at all, I love this name, and the label is classical and tightly executed. It sings autumn during an election year, which tends to make some people forget pumpkins exist anyway. – Mike

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Color:  8

A murky golden brown with a nice, stubborn khaki head.  The opaqueness attempts to conceal the carbonation bubbles but if you look closely they are there slowly trickling there way to the top. – Brittney

Awesome porter coloration! It’s a roasted dark brown color with a beautiful hint of caramel glowing on the edges that really sets this one apart. A thick tan head floats on top with intense slow lacing following the brew all the way down. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9.5

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Aroma:  8

Toasted dark chocolate and vanilla marshmallow with heaps of bready malt and a hint of cinnamon. Like a pumpernickel loaf if you made it into a spiced bread pudding with caramel glaze. – Mike

Smells of rich and powerful malts, hints of fresh squash and settles into bold notes of vanilla that give the overall feeling of decadent dark chocolate & coffee ice cream. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 6

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Mouth feel:  7

This imperial porter is much lighter than expected. It’s kind of a soft feeling on the tongue. Very appealing. Maybe it’s the vanilla beans, but I detected a sweet metallic taste / feeling that I found strangely acceptable. – Rick

A touch delicate for a porter, but by no means thin. Just closer to a traditional ale than a stout. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  7.5

More of that awesome crusty dark malt, and emerging notes of cinnamon capped espresso, with rum and fruit pumpkin qualities. Not what I would have expected from the nose at all. There’s a nice floral hoppiness to it that also seems unique to this twist on the style. – Mike

Deep and rich, with waves of Vanilla, burnt sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and heat from not only the alcohol but clove and ginger as well.  This is a very assertive porter at once fighting for your attention while at the same time, allowing the well balanced array of spices to mingle on your tongue—my only concern here is that the pumpkin seems to have gone M.I.A. – Tim

Earthy and squashy throughout, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove peek out towards the finish.  Most of what was noticed in the aroma is dominant, nice bitter dark chocolate, pounds of vanilla, coffee, and malt. – Brittney

Great roasted malts with coffee and chocolate being the dominate flavors. The dark chocolate flavor acts as a great drying agent rather than over sweetening the brew. There’s just a subtle addition of pumpkin and a hint of vanilla bean to round out the sweetness. – Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

A surprisingly clean finish for the density that passes the lips initially.  The spice tends to make itself more prominent towards the end. – Brittney

As long as the Summer Solstice and bitter as the sins of man. The only cure for ending the finish is to have another sip. – Tim

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

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Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

Coffee and chocolate flavors play nice together and come to the forefront leaving the pumpkin as a subtle touch of fruity sweetness. Otherwise, the typical pumpkin spices are hard to distinguish. – Rick

There is a pretty fair balance on this one, in that, neither are really dominant but are there just enough to support the more intense flavors. Can’t say the same for the news. – Brittney

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Surprisingly fruity with a bitter snap. Rose and hibiscus up front, black coffee and earth on the back. The alcohol hit and never ending finish (FAAAAALLLLCCCCOOORRRR!) tend to tip it a little dryer. – Mike

It’s definitely drier than sweet, but I like that in my beers. It has a nice clean taste and a dark chocolate flavoring that helps dry the finish. – Rick

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

At 8% ABV I’m not inclined to partake of another in one sitting. I don’t think my palate could handle it.  But, I would hit another bottle of this—perhaps one that had a touch of age on it to see if the ravages of time could tame the epic spice levels. – Tim

A great bitter drink but probably not something I would have more than one of. Which works, since it is a limited release and all. – Brittney

M- 4.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 8.5

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Overall:  7.42

M- 7.16 / T- 7.58 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.83