Posts tagged ‘Florida’

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

 

Gourds of Thunder Festive Ale – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)

Gourds of Thunder WEB

Today’s offering comes from a, not so secret anymore, hot spot on any tour of Florida’s many blossoming and popular breweries. Nestled just a short way up the road from the old cigar factories of Ybor City(and closer still to their big brother), we find our destination: The Cigar City Brew Pub. Featuring a menu that stresses local farm to table offerings heavily influenced by Tampa’s Cuban and Italian populations, and of course, it’s own house brewed beer specialties (along with featuring many from Cigar City, and the new Cigar City Cider & Meadery), it’s pretty much a must stop lunch destination. House Brew Master Tim Ogden is no slouch either. Those familiar with Cigar City’s much sought after offerings will be more than familiar with two of their more popular offerings that he developed: “Tocobaga Red Ale” and the notorious Skate Park of Tampa Collaboration “Moat Water” (a 100 rated sweet stout brewed with actual moat water from the skate park and aged on skate decks). Suffice it to say, the man has the credentials to deliver (along with a grand champion award from the 2012 National Beer Tasting Championships). So, what we’re trying to say is, you should probably stop by if you’re in town.

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Name:  Gourds of Thunder Festive Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tampa, Florida / Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Black Ale / 6.3%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Gourds of Thunders stays true to the Cigar City Brew Pub Farm to Table mission, and features heirloom local organic calabaza pumpkins and butternut squash, along with chocolate rye, dark chocolate, coriander, allspice, and other spices. It is fermented with Tim’s go to house Belgian yeast “Forbidden Fruit”.

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Packaging:

I like the simplicity of this label. Boom, it’s in your face with the brewer’s logo and the beer’s name jumping right off the bottle to greet you. – Rick

This is a pretty basic label as the ale is not brewed for mass release.  A brewpub exclusive, it’s only available on tap or in bottles sold in the pub itself.  Intended to be paired with the gastro-pub fare served in their flagship location, the bottle features the standard Cigar City logo with a little side note giving the chef  and brew master a little love. – Tim

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Color:  9

This beer pours a super dark espresso color with a small, smooth, creamy head. It’s picturesque and iconically represents how a dark beer should appear. – Brittney

Anyone familiar with Cigar City’s Marshall Zhukov Imperial Stout knows this color well. I took the Led flash on my phone and held it directly on the glass. Nothing. It’s midnight, in a cave, in the furthest reaches of space black. The only hint of color is the head, a deep brown of roasted almond skin. – Mike

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

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Aroma:  8.5

The nose is chocolate and vanilla, coffee and breakfast pastries; this serves a dual purpose, making me both equally hungry and thirsty. – Tim

The aroma that I’m getting here is roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate and pumpkin. There is a smell of spices that I can’t really place, but not your usual pumpkin pie spices, there is something different going on here. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  8

Super smooth, yet it still retains a full body with a creaminess that helps it glide right over the tongue. I am actually both impressed and surprised by the smoothness. – Rick

Heavy cream thickness, like liquid silk. If you ran your motor oil for 50,000 miles and then filtered it back to it’s original viscosity, you’d have something like this. It’s about as full bodied as they come. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 8

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Tasting notes:  9

There is a hefty dominance of chocolate and spice on the forefront here. Like, 98% cacao dark chocolate on the nasal retro hale after your first sip. I like the interplay of the spicing, and would be curious to see the Tim’s list of secret additions. It plays somewhere between thanksgiving dinner and exotic Indian cuisine flavors. It’s decadent, and as your mouth adjusts, butternut squash and floral yeasty coriander notes battle their way through the huge bitter roast Clash of the Titans style. – Mike

For some reason, brewpub exclusives tend to be the domain of mad scientist potions, and this ale is no exception.  It has to have one of the craziest spice profiles of anything I have had in a very long time.  It reminds me primarily of my mother’s homemade Thanksgiving stuffing, with significant notes of celery, cumin, rye seed, fenugreek, an d even a little iron (courtesy of chicken liver in the stuffing – and I don’t know what in the Ale!).  Masses of dark chocolate notes and dark roasted malt accentuate the caramelized pumpkin and squash.  It’s a meal in a glass. – Tim

When you first taste a beer in the environment that it is brewed in, magic happens. And then you immediately buy three bottles of it.  I’m a firm believer in so much more than our taste buds creating how something tastes.  Both taste experiences were top notch; The beer at the brew pub seemed to be a little sweeter and less earthy. The bottle pour is more vegetal and bitter which is welcome in a world of sugary pumpkin pie in a bottle beer.  Fresh tomatoes on a vine, espresso crusted anything, and bitter, bitter dark chocolate. – Brittney

Full bodied with all the right aspects of an imperial stout, I’m loving the dark chocolate and espresso backbone. There is something fruity also that seems to be black cherry, and at first I thought there was some banana, but that quickly subsided. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 10

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Finish:  8

This beer is in your face, big time. There is a solid 10 seconds of dark chocolate finish, and then a nice clean vanilla yogurt aftertaste that leaves the mouth dry. – Mike

Finish is smooth and dry with the chocolate presence being strongest here. There is a slight bitterness at the end, but just barely noticeable.  It may also have a hint of vanilla bean lurking around here. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance:  8

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

The gourd is all roasty and dense; the spice profile is insane with a level of complexity that I don’t think I’ve yet experienced in pumpkin ale. I feel like there is a laundry list of ingredients in this ale (one I’d like to see), but nothing overpowers anything else—although you can see it trying. – Tim

I would have to say that even with so many other factors of flavor here, the pumpkin and spice give each other enough room to display themselves without competing with one another. – Brittney

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

The great finish here really helps balance the sweetness by drying it up. At first it seems as dry as freshly ground espresso. As parching as crushed roasted cacao beans. It takes some time, but the sweetness eventually shines through. – Rick

The ABV is on the low end, and thus the ale carries sweetness in the body and bitter notes in the finish, which trails on for quite a while. – Tim

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

You try not to remember that multiple servings are sometimes not an option when it comes to Cigar City specialties and just thoroughly enjoy what you can get your hands on. – Brittney

If this is what you get when the gods are angry, then I am calling Thor out as the pretty boy dandy he is. It’s punishing to the senses. It will fatigue your tongue. And you will keep coming back because, let’s be real, you like it rough. Thank you sir may I have another? – Mike

M- 10 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 10

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Overall:  8.42

M- 9.08 / T- 8.16 / B- 7.75 / R- 8.58

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

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

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Name:  Duclaw 31

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

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

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

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

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Name:  The Big Bam Boo

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

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

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

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

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Name:  Autumn Maple

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

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

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

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

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.6%

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

Slashed Pumpkin – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

Happy Friday the 13th? Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since our last post does it? Welcome to our first post of 2012! We figured we’d get a head start just in case we didn’t make it to next December…

All kidding aside though, we’ve got a treat here in the form of a special holiday edition Micro Brew from Shipyard Emporium’s head Brewer Ron Raike, and it’s certain to help keep you warm through the winter months.

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Name:  Slashed Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Shipyard Emporium ( Ron Raike )

Beer style / ABV%:  Chipotle Pumpkin Porter / 6.8%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Twenty-two pounds of fresh pie pumpkins are baked, caramelized, and added in the mash, boil, and fermentations stages along with pie spices intended to balance the chocolatey porter. ( This may sound familiar from their offering “The Great Plumpkin“, and with good reason.) It is then finished with chipotle peppers to give it a mild Smokey burn.  Another nicety for some additional flair is the garnish of a deep fried Pumpkin Grit Fritter made with Anson Mills Organic Heirloom Grits, pumpkin, spices, and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.

Packaging:  N/A (Tap Only)

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Color:  8

Our beer arrived with a nice cream colored head and a chocolate bar looking body.  No kidding, this beer was very still and solid looking and the perfect chocolate bar brown. – Brittney

Great coloration for a porter style beer.  The dark brown head caps a black body that mimics the husk of a dried chipotle pepper.  There is little to suggest that this beer is pumpkin flavored, it just looks very appealing. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8.5

Spices present themselves prominently up front with strong essences of warm pumpkin pie in the nose, with allspice and cinnamon playing the most outstanding roles. – Tim

A sweet and spicy aroma with strong notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, over a caramel / chocolate pumpkin base, and just the slightest sting of smoky chipotle. – Mike

If smooth had a smell this would be it.  You can smell the creamy chocolaty goodness alongside a deliciously brewed porter with just a touch of that vegetal yet caramelized pumpkin and a hint of spice.  – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

The smoothness makes this medium bodied brew easy to drink, while the spicy back end keeps you sipping at this delicious pumpkiny porter.  It feels frothy as it expands across the palate really allowing the flavors to sink in.   – Rick

A full bodied creamy wash of foam that wraps the tongue and coats the throat. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  8

Sweet Pumpkin and rich chocolaty porter up front with the spices filtering through the foam pleasantly.The chipotle appears as a smoky quality that is quite pervasive, before dropping the hammer of spice into the finish. The sweet honey and salted butter of the grits in the garnish seem to help bring a bit of the pumpkin into the forefront as you drink on, and the palate because a bit more confused by the spice. – Mike

Smooth and creamy with the perfect amount of dark chocolate notes I want in a porter.  Deep and rich with the addition of Chipotle peppers presenting themselves on the finish. The spices get lost in the depth of the brews abundant flavor profile, but as it comes up in temperature, the roasted pumpkin notes present themselves and give the beer a resounding depth of character. – Tim

I’m a big fan of spice being invited to the party when it shouldn’t be and let’s face it, most of the time chipotle peppers are not on your usual list of ingredients when it come to beer.  It took a second to be noticed but the chipotle builds and really shines as the brew warms. Also, Porters can have a tendency to overwhelm my palate but this one sets a prefect table for savory pumpkin, sweet chocolate and spicy chipotle.  If the master cleanse needed a beer option this would be it. – Brittney

The pumpkin aspects are accented very well by the porter’s smoky qualities and the malty sweetness is just right without being too cloying.  It’s a unique addition to a pumpkin beer, but the chipotle spice gives this porter a great finish. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 8 / B- 9 / R- 7.5

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Finish:  8

Pure chocolate smoke with a slap of pepper spice crawls down the throat leaving a trace of heat that builds with each sip, adding a nice southwest flair. – Mike

The finish here is all about the heat from the Chipotle peppers.  Touches of smoke and the slow burn from their inclusion provide this beer with a real show-stopping quality—with the heat building on itself and really waking up the tastebuds and warming you up on cold winter nights.  The beer is garnished with a pumpkin grit fritter that provides a nice addition of both fried goodness to cut the porter and creamy consistency to supplant the chipotle’s heat. – Tim

It’s a complex finish that gets spicier as your taste buds settle into it throughout the beer.  The spice settles on the back of the tongue and throat allowing your taste buds access to the sweeter bits of the roasted pumpkin. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance:  7

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

As directly intended, this beer is more about overall sensory balance, it has a lot of elements to like about it, the spice comes on in the nose, the pumpkin presents in the body and the chilies have their way with you in the end.   It might not seem harmonious at first, but it gets the added points for running a gamut of flavor profiles. – Tim

There may be a touch of cinnamon, but it’s an after thought to the chipolte which stands out as the dominant spice for sure.  Regardless, it’s a great balance of roasted pumpkin flavors with a bit of spice that could quickly get out of hand if the pumpkin was sweeter or the pepper spicier. – Rick

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This brew starts sweet at the tip of your tongue and ends with a spicy kick at the back.  The spice really helps quell the sweet start of this brew lending to more attention to detail. – Rick

Not only balanced on sweet to dry but also on the added challenge of bringing in spice. – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 8.5 / R- 6.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

The spicy profile here is the only thing holding this back from being an extremely session worthy ale. Of course, being a bit of a hot head, it’s not going to keep me from another round. – Mike

As long as I have a glass of water around to combat the heat when it might build too much I would love to have a couple rounds. – Brittney

Here is where the chili really rocks this beer.  The beauty of this 6.8% ABV brew is that, it’s not heavy, the immense flavor profile doesn’t overpower your taste buds, and the heat from the peppers keeps sending you back to cool down your throat.  I could drink a lot of this beer. – Tim

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

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Overall:  7.83

M- 8.00 / T- 7.50 / B- 8.17 / R- 7.75

The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

I must admit, for a brief second Monday afternoon, my ego got the best of me. Perusing the Facebook page and the bevy of brewers we’ve friended since inception, we had finally achieved beer nerd-vana. “The Great Pumpkin Ale” it read. Sure, that could be any Charles Schulz fan paying tribute, but that couldn’t be. It was based in our hometown. It had to be us. Right?

Sadly, upon further inspection, our eyes (and perhaps our egos as well) had mercilessly omitted a crucial letter. It read upon deeper review “PLumpkin”. Now, had we been better acquainted with Shipyard Emporium’s in house brewer Ron Raike, it’s entirely possible he could have been taking a heartfelt shot at us. Reviewing beer isn’t exactly a low calorie affair. But we’re going to just try to forget our folly, and, well, drink this tap dry. We recommend you make it down to do so as well, and make it snappy, because as a part of their house brew series, Shipyard Emporium is certain to run out of this one before the week is out.

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Name:  The Great Plumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 7.2%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  18 lbs of pie pumpkins are baked and caramelized in the emporium’s bakery, and are then used in both the mash and boil to add flavor, texture, and sweetness. Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, and a new spice to our equation, Mace, are added to create a uniquely spicy and aromatic finish. Then it’s garnished with a skewered toastette covered in roasted and candied pumpkin seeds.

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Packaging:

This is where we usually get to talk about the bottle, the design of the label and anything else that is included that the brewer might think is important.  With Plumpkin our “packaging” was our local Shipyard emporium.  Our “label” was a chalk drawn tap handle with small gourd atop.  Our “anything else that the brewer might think is important” was well, the brewer. – Brittney

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Color:  8

Dark and ominously cloudly ale with ripe orange accents and visible carbonated core forming a misty head. – Mike

Such a great dark amber color that is full of life.  There’s no head or lacing to this draft pour, but the bronze color is so bold it reflects the massive amounts of pumpkin that were used to make this brew. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and allspice blend well with the defined pumpkin fragrance. But, the standout here is the inclusion of Mace (which is the outer membrane of the nutmeg seed–not the self-defense spray!) adding something very distinct and aromatic to the brew that other manufactures are definitely missing. – Tim

It all hits you right away, the roasted pumpkin, the slightly more complex spices, sweet caramel, a touch of alcohol and back to the roasted pumpkin again.  The impressive part is that is all goes one step further. Yeah we expect pumpkin but you can actually smell the sweetness and slight smokiness from roasting. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This ale is super smooth for having such a full bodied appearance.  There’s almost no tingle from the carbonation, so you’re able to taste everything this beer has to offer.  – Rick

Despite appearing pretty fizzy, it’s less bite and more slightly foamy cream with a lot of body mass. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  9

Poured on draft at the Shipyard Brewpub this in-house concoction leaves visions of wicked jack o’ lanterns dancing across my tongue making The Great Pumpkin Ale a nearly perfect blend of the spice that is prevalent in Pumpkinhead and the depth found in Smashed Pumpkin. Shipyard would do well to get this recipe into mass production for 2012.  The brewpub even goes one extra step, offering a fantastic crusty bread garnish with sweet caramel and savory chili dusted pepitas that when consumed in conjunction with the brew and a lush nutty depth to the overall experience. – Tim

Deep roasted pumpkin explodes on the palate while the malty spice keeps the ale dry and pleasantly sweet. The shining star here is definitely the smokey roasted notes though, and the garnish offers such a dramatic change in flavor profile, giving a completely different aspect to the ale. Try the first half without it, and then kill it with the toast. It’s a trip. – Mike

If you could take all the great things from a few of the other pumpkin beers that have been more popular year after year and put them all together in one, you would have Plumpkin.  You get the real pumpkin flavor that so many others strive for; you get a complex grouping of spices that doesn’t overtake the taste.  It’s sweet and clean and delicious.  – Brittney

There is so much pumpkin in this beer it almost sounds like overkill, but they’ve managed to really grasp a great pumpkin flavor without being overly sour.  The spices are delicate here as well, making it boldly sweet in a great way, without resulting in a spicy profile.  Vanilla and caramel come to mind as well, making for one tasty brew. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Finish:  8.5

Long and refreshing, the spice is abundantly present, but not unpleasantly so; particularly since it settles into smooth pumpkin at the very end. – Mike

A soft lingering finish with a touch of hoppy perfume.  Couple this with the garnish and you can really savor the strength of flavors on display in this beer. – Tim

This is one smooth ale.  It finishes sweet and smoky that compliments a great pumpkin flavor.  Paired with a roasted pumpkin seed and caramel garnish, the flavor profile becomes uniquely bold and smoky and overall, stands out in a crowd of pumpkin ales. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9.5

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Flavor balance:  8.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

With 18lbs of pumpkin roasted and added to the mash you better believe you can get the pumpkin in this small batch wonder.  But for me it keeps coming back to that special something added by the inclusion of Mace.  A very balanced beer with a meaty, profound body and a magnificent mixture of spices.  – Tim

The pumpkin is overloaded here, but with great flavor.  The spices are just enough to make it nice and sweet on the tongue. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 9

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

I went back and forth dry to sweet and sweet to dry with each sip.  Certain characteristics made me feel like it was sweeter and others tended toward dry.  In the end I went with balanced. – Brittney

The caramelization of the roasted pumpkins adds a definitive sweetness to the brew but never an overt syrupiness or stickyness that would demand a crisper or drier finish to balance it.  It just lingers for a moment and then fades away.  Well done. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

While a good bit heavier than most session beers, this offering is so damn tasty, I’m probably going to drink more than I should. This keg is certain to go fast. – Mike

There are so many ways this is a winner that it would be hard to find someone that couldn’t find something they like about it.  – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Overall: 8.25

M- 8.42 / T- 7.92 / B- 7.67 / R- 8.67

Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Cigar City Brewery


A few things; First off, I will be getting married this Saturday, and leaving for my honeymoon the following monday. Fear not though, we haven’t forgotten about you loyal readers. While I haven’t had the time to make these reviews as graphically intensive as some of the past. (trust me, no ones more disappointed than me, but the show must go on), we have been painstakingly drinking ourselves into oblivion so that the blog will stay regular while I’m away. Tim will be taking over the publishing reigns while we’re gone, but I promise, if I come across any interesting pumpkin brews in the UK, you’ll be the first to know.

Secondly, here in Florida we’re fortunate to have a number of awesome micro and small batch brewers, and at the forefront of that batch is Cigar City, who in their great wisdom, has decided to grace us with a local pumpkin brew all our own. Read on to see what we thought of it, and if you see it on shelves, snatch it up. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

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Name:  Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA /  Cigar City Brewing

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Featuring Pumpkin, Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg, Good Gourd touts itself as a celebration of Fall and Halloween in particular, warding the evil spirits away from their pumpkins, to provide nothing but the best. It’s also our second brew to featuring pairing suggestions including pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and costume parties.

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Packaging:

Good gourd boldly defies the pumpkin beer emblem tradition, instead opting for a more autumnal look with oranges and red abounding, and falling autumn leaves on a cream field. And of course, the trademark cigar city logo. – Mike

This label looks like going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and for that alone, I love it.   Being from the subtropical state of Florida we rarely get to see leaves change color, that’s why I have a quizzical take on Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City incorporating them into their bottle.  Based on the brewery name, I might have anticipated tobacco leaves chancing color, but I’ll take what I can get. – Tim

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Color:  7.5

This ale has a full bodied darkish orange, leaning towards brown, coloration.  It’s like looking through liquid cinnamon, and appears very opaque.  The huge head quickly resides and leaves really nice lacing.  – Rick

Burnt caramel with an impenetrable opacity, this seems to be in strong keeping with Cigar City’s other brews. You can potently visualize the gravity of this one. A tremendous head and long lasting lace crown the package out. – Mike

M – 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8.5 / E – 7

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Aroma:  5

Hops greet the nose, together with a mixture of spices (all spice, cinnamon).  Unique in that other pumpkin brews have been wary of introducing much of anything in the way of hop character. – Erich

I’m really at a loss for aroma, the beer’s there but I don’t really get much to make it pumpkin or spice, it seems more like an Oktoberfest. – Brittney

This is an odd bird, there is almost nothing happening on the bouquet right off the bat.  A few swirls and a little aeration release a few tell-tale beer signs, but little if any indication of the autumn goodness in the bottle. – Tim

M – 4 / T- 4 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5 / E – 7

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Mouth feel:  6.5

There’s no bite from the carbonation, but a noticeable sting from the alcohol content.  Overall, it feels light and airy over the tongue.  This is where the initial sourness hits you, but it’s not too off-putting. – Rick

Robustly bodied, with an immense creamy front end, and a surprising lack of astringency. It demands to be savored. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 7 / E – 7

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Tasting notes:  6.5

The feel of this beer is almost clouding to to the palate. It’s complexities seem to note brown sugar, that trademark cigar city tobacco note, and cinnamon, with just a dab of pumpkin rounding everything out. It’s excellent, but if you put this down in front of me, I’m not sure I could honestly tell you it was a pumpkin beer without the power of suggestion. The pumpkin does really seem to emerge more at about half a glass, and as the temperature rises closer to room. Contrarily, it could easily stand up in body alone to and actual cigar. This one is a pleasant enigma for me. – Mike

There’s a slight dark malt bitterness (coffee/dark chocolate notes) that are followed by a hint of vanilla and sweetness, with various spices singing backup and rounded out by well-controlled hops.  This is a complex brew and delectably so – well-balanced and with a galaxy of flavors to explore, except for what should be the star, the pumpkin.  Amidst all the other flavors finding the pumpkin is akin to “Where’s Waldo?”.  It’s a shame – as with other great pumpkin beers that have put the “beer” first – a little more pumpkin in this would’ve made it sublime. – Erich

It definitely has a gourdy profile, but isn’t sweet like pumpkin is traditionally thought of.  It starts off sour, then you find some smoky aspects in there, and finally, with an exhale the sweetness is revealed. – Rick

There is a lot going on in this beer.  Fresh pumpkin, nutmeg, vanilla. It’s buttery and floral with bready yeast notes, and what could best be described as ‘pie crust’ in there.  It’s sweet but not cloying and the caramel malts are profound and a little unsettling.  With everything happening here, I feel like I want to love this, struggle to like it, and resign myself to feeling that the beer is just not in harmony and is pulling me in too many directions. – Tim

M – 7 / T- 5 / B- 7.5 / R- 5.5 / E – 8

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Finish:  7

It’s not until the finish that I really catch the cinnamon, but that’s what lingers for me.  It’s a nice conclusion that reminds you that you don’t need to be slapped in the face to enjoy good pumpkin ale. – Brittney

The vanilla notes from the initial flavor endure, leaving a sweet but not-too-sweet finish. – Erich

Clean with a touch of that same caramel – brown sugar sweetness again. I get the pumpkin here more than anywhere else. The higher alcohol content seems to sit nicely with a sharp hops nip on the backside, but all in all, this is impressively smooth. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 6 / B- 7.5 / R- 6 / E – 8

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Flavor balance: 5.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

For a beer that so ‘all over the place’ it’s hard to say anything is in agreement here.  It’s got spice and it’s got pumpkin—that sets it apart from most, but with everything pulling against everything else, the brew isn’t going to win any bi-partisan votes from me. – Tim

It’s a tad spicy, but I keep thinking of fermenting gourds when I drink this brew that it overwhelms the spices here. – Rick

M – 4 / T- 4 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5 / E – 4

–         Sweet / Dry balance:  

Sensibly sweet, balanced out with the right kinds of bitterness. – Erich

Everything seems to coalesce so smooth in this one, that it seems to become one heady beast of a beer, with a backhand of Newtonian slam. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 5 / B- 5.5 / R- 5 / E – 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

This is a dangerous beer, because if it captures your imagination, it’s masking its 8.5% ABV very carefully and I promise you that could lead to a serious hangover in the morning.  One and done for me. – Tim

The multitude of flavors may leave one’s tongue a bit fatigued, that’s if the 8.5% ABV doesn’t catch up to you first.  The Good Gourd is clearly meant for slow savoring, not consumption in large quantities. – Erich

M – 9 / T- 5 / B- 6.5 / R- 5.5 / E – 5

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Overall:  6.33

M – 7.08 / T- 5.33 / B- 6.58 / R- 6.08 / E – 7.08