Posts tagged ‘headless horseman’

Ichabod Pumpkin Ale – New Holland Brewing Co.

I have to admit, I’m excited to try this one. It’s been staring at me from the back of the fridge for a few weeks now, and anyone that knows my family closely, knows that we’re kind of obsessed with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (isn’t Tim’s picture up there rad by the way?). Suffice to say, from my dad reading it to us every Halloween as a kid, to the amazing animated Disney version, and yes, even the questionable Johnny Depp movie ( My brother particularly likes it for the sheer decapitation factor, and of course, the Walken), suffice to say, it’s a big deal that has imprinted on me, and always pops into my head (and quickens my pace) when crossing old wooden bridges.


Name: Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Michigan, USA / New Holland Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 5.2%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Combining malted barley, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, this brew is designed to compliment pairings of roasted poultry, root vegetables, peanut sauce, and caraway.



Washington Irving’s tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hallow is one of my favorite American short stories–on that point alone I’m predispositioned to dig on this packaging with its representation of the pumpkin-headed specter astride his spooky steed. – Tim

Creepy and classic like most things should be this time of year.  The images on the label stay true to its name with only a slight mention of pumpkin ale.  The tiny statement on the front of “Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices with spices added” makes me think this might be a little heavy on the spice end. – Brittney

If Washington Irving’s classic tale was an animated series designed to creep the hell out of Saturday mornings in the 90’s, this label would surely be the perfect nightmare inducing adversary, complete with haunting glow and a red eyed steed. It also seems to imply we might be drinking a beer made out of his head, which explains why that pumpkin looks pissed. – Mike

A nice spooky illustration of the infamous headless horseman brandishing a menacingly evil looking jack-o-lantern in one hand, as he guides his ghostly steed with the other.  You can tell right away that this pumpkin ale is just a little bit different from the others. – Rick


Color:  7.5

 Beautiful antiqued lace foam draping down the sides of the glass ever so slowly, to compliment the burnt sienna (yeah, I went there) sea glass coloration. This definitely isn’t headless. – Mike

Dull amber-brown and slightly cloudy, it doesn’t have the usually orange glow of some of the spiced ales that we have visited thus far. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 6.5 / R- 7.5


Aroma: 6

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove all come on the nose almost immediately with the cinnamon leading the charge. Further back in the pack, an air of fresh pumpkin is met with a noticeable zing of sharpness portending an impression of the hops-forward drink to come.  – Tim

This pumpkin ale pours a great deep amber, almost brown in a molasses like quality.  Great lacing is left behind by the frothy head that quickly settled after the pour.  Very appealing in collaboration with the aroma. – Rick

This sucker smells like it’s soaking in nutmeg, and has a rather pungent hop aspect to it. I do get a hint of the barley malt as well, but more as a sense of fleeting charred sweetness. – Mike

Getting most of our usual three, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin dominate the very slight nose on this one.  The only unusual quality of the aroma is the pumpkin smells baked, if not slightly burned. – Brittney

M- 4 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 7


Mouth feel: 6

There’s a great presence on the pallet from this one right off the bat.  It delicately dances between medium and light bodied while settling across the tongue with a nice tingle. – Rick

Just on the cusp of medium bodied with a hint of wateriness and medium carbonation.  To be honest, I expected more zip from this brew.  I was expecting a bang but all I got was a whimper. – Tim

The experience of the mouth feel on this one is quick and to the point.  The carbonation really expands in your mouth.  It’s very smooth, has excellent crispness and ends slightly dry.  – Brittney

M- 4 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 6


Tasting notes: 5.5

As predicted, Ichabod is hoppy and bitter but not flowery like an IPA, this is a surprisingly citric and vegetal ale with notes of grapefruit along with cinnamon and nutmeg and bready malts. The pumpkin is more subdued but the undercurrent of flavor is there.  The spice level is more restrained than I’d imagined it’d be based on the bouquet.  However, it all rubs me the wrong way.  It’s not a traditional fall ale, with none of the expected sweetness and, yet despite the outburst of hops it’s not floral enough for me to appreciate it as an IPA. – Tim

Well this is an interesting approach. Dry and vegetal, but with a definitive spice presence, I really don’t get even a touch of sweet out of this brew, but more a glimmer of vanilla cream sans sugar and white tea. It’s certainly intriguing as a curio, but I have to be honest and say, while it’s certainly innoxious, it’s unfortunately because it comes off rather benign. – Mike

It looks full bodied but tends to taste more like a medium bodied brew with a nice addition of bitter hops.  I don’t expect to get this good of a beer with a fairly low ABV, but I was pleasantly surprised. – Rick

I was hoping for a little more complexity with this.  I especially would have liked to taste a little more of the slightly burned aroma that I picked up on the nose, I feel like it would have given Ichabod a little more character. – Brittney

M- 3.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 8


Finish:  6

Cinnamon whisps away with an unexpectedly clean and at once foggy feeling, leaving just a slight bitter facet to the end of a swig. – Mike

This one starts with the sweet aroma, and ends with the nice bite from the hops.  I also notice just a slim hint of actual pumpkin at the very end just to cap off this ales experience. – Rick

Long, bitter, bone dry finish with a lingering tartness that I find intriguing but not overly satisfying. – Tim

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


Flavor balance:5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Unfortunately the unsweetened approach of the pumpkin here seems to get lost in the fold, leaving only a heavy hand of nutmeg against the beers foundation. – Mike

The hops overpower everything pushing the pumpkin and spice levels down so that they might balance against each other, but you’d never know it. – Tim

M- 3 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This one is surprisingly on the dry side.  You would think with all of the spices that it might be sweet but it’s like the difference between cinnamon sugar and the cinnamon challenge. – Brittney

I keep wanting to think I’m catching a hint of some kind of brown sugar or something here. But the more I think about it, the more it just seems like the char off the bottom of a pot caramel was cooked in. – Mike

It’s a tad cloying, especially at the end of the bottle, but there’s a nice dryness from the hops that I find really help balance this minor drawback. – Rick

M- 3 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

I’d like to by bottles of this to have at parties just because it label screams “This is Halloween” to me over and over again, but I’m afraid someone might actually drink it.  It’s not a terrible beer.  Far from it.  But, it’s just too perplexing to try and decipher the intention of the brewer here. – Tim

I’d be curious to try this directly with the food pairings suggested or a sweet dessert, as that might certainly provide some depth to the intention of this brew. I end up for now though, underwhelmed and wishing for something a bit more exciting. – Mike

M- 4.5 / T- 4 / B- 7.5 / R- 8


Flavor balance: 6.00

M- 4.75 / T- 5.17 / B- 6.67 / R- 7.41

Pumpkinhead Ale – Shipyard Brewery

First off, just wanted to apologize about the delay between posts. We’ve had a hectic schedule that we’re trying to iron the kinks out of with multiple members of this blog traveling to Atlanta last weekend, two of us playing some higher profile shows, and a wedding in the mix.  To make it up to you, we’ll be doing a double back to back post coverage of Shipyard’s famous, and lesser known pumpkin brews. So be sure to check back tomorrow!


Name: Pumpkinhead Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maine, U.S.A – Shipyard Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Wheat Ale, 5.1%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Shipyard brewery specializes in English style ales, and this award winning ale is no different. Featuring two-row british pale malt, malted wheat, and English top fermenting yeast, it certainly offers a bit of a departure from a number of the American styles we’ve seen so far.



A spookier look for shipyard wins a fond place in my heart that would make Washington Irving proud. Featuring a statue sporting a sinister looking jack o’lantern in place of a head, it’s certainly Halloween. Fortunately this horseman just seems to be looking for a kegger. – Mike

The illustrated pumpkin is quite cartoony and appears to be an homage to the Headless Horseman, so enjoyable in some aspects.  The dark blue background provides great contrast to the orange Shipyard logo and orange banner.  The use of different fonts on the label feels a bit jarring. – Erich

Shipyard bottles always look great.  And, I’d be lying if I didn’t measure the beginning of the fall season by looking around for the big display of Black/Blue and Orange bottles of Pumpkinhead Ale with their patina-bronzed headless horseman logo holding a mighty pint glass aloft. It’s a great label and a herald for the end of summer. – Tim



Color: 3.5

A little bit lighter in color with a golden hue and a hint of caramel coloring.  The head was very light and dissipated fairly quickly. – Rick

If you want to call this orange, you’re going to need to hold it up to a piece of stark white paper.  In fact, you’d be better off just holding it up to a piece of orange paper.  Sadly, color wise, this could be just about any basic golden-hued ale. – Tim

Very pale amber color with thin head, no lacing and a good amount of carbonation.  Nothing about its appearance advertises “pumpkin beer”, or even “beer” for that matter.  Looks more like cider or ginger ale. – Erich

M – 2.5 / T- 3 / K- 4.5 / R- 6 / E – 1


Aroma: 5.5

Clove emerges in dominance with allspice following and just a glimpse of nutmeg. I don’t smell even a dash of pumpkin here. It’s pleasant enough, though, and certainly nothing to turn me away. – Mike

The cinnamon spice really stands out here hinting at an abundance of sweetness with almost a buttery scent lingering in the background as well. – Rick

A fantastic pumpkin smell. Just the right amount of cinnamon as well. – Keenan

I feel like I’m grading on a curve here because I think people really like how this smells.  It’s almost overpoweringly spicy.  Like someone dumped a shot glass of Allspice, Nutmeg and Clove into the bottle.  But it almost smells artificially overpowering–like pumpkin potpourri.  – Tim

M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 10 / R- 7 / E – 3


Mouth feel: 5

The best analogy is soda water, but without the acidity – i.e. too much carbonation.  Spices feel sharp and astringent initially, then fade to a tickle. – Erich

Mild bodied and clean with a fair amount of carbonation giving it the slightest burn when held on the tongue.  Probably the boldest aspect of this pour. – Mike

Light and watery with a very slight bite of carbonation which gives it a crisp feel on the tongue.  Otherwise, there’s not much going on here. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 2 / K- 10  / R- 5 / E – 3


Tasting notes: 5.5

Surprisingly, despite the nose and color, there is a shot of pumpkin, nicely copulating with cinnamon and nutmeg. Interestingly, the clove seems to take a back seat. There’s also a note of caramel and malty bite. – Mike

Pumpkinhead, for all its branding savvy and the scores of friends of mine that love it, comes off to me as little more than a Yankee Candle floating in a glass of Corona.  The flavor profile is inoffensive generic beer with a gallon of spices to mask the taste.  Like soda pop for adults. – Tim

This beer is not too spicy or sweet having the ability to really capture the essence of pumpkin spices.  It is quite appealing to the senses, and I think combined with it’s lightness make this beer a great introductory pumpkin lager. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 3 / K- 8 / R- 6 / E – 2


Finish: 5.5

The initial burst of sweetness and spice attenuates quickly, leaving a faint spice flavor and an overall clean finish. – Erich

Creamy and rich, there’s definitely a whipped cream and pumpkin pie mix that lingers on the tongue pleasantly, and throws the faintest scent of a burning jack o lantern up the back of the throat into the nose. Cumin comes to the front of the throat on swallow, for the faintest burn and a lot of character. – Mike

Super crisp if you drink it at damn-near freezing temps.  Light and innocuous if you take it up a few degrees.  It’s gone off your tongue in a matter of seconds. – Tim

The after taste is great. Not too strong. Though I can’t help but have an almost copper taste in my mouth after drinking a six pack. – Keenan

M – 8 / T- 3 / K- 9 / R- 5 / E – 3


Flavor balance:5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

It’s all spice for those of you that like that sort of thing. – Tim

It is too sweet, with a poor balance of spice (cinnamon and clove dominate) and is absolutely foundationless with regard to hop, yeast or malt character.  As a beverage in general, it may certainly be enjoyable, but through the lens of a beer review, it fails. – Erich

M – 4 / T- 3 / K- 10 / R- 5.5 / E – 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Fairly balanced with a slight lean to the sweet side. The bite at the end does mildly confuse though, in that it plays at a stauncher IPA. – Mike

Very cloying. – Erich

M – 6 / T- 3 / K- 6 / R- 6 / E – 2

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Not difficult to drink, but with its sweetness and carbonation one must figure that the Pumpkinhead is a fast-track to an upset stomach, especially for those who are accustomed to drier beverages. – Erich

I would actually purchase Pumpkinhead by the case. I killed these babies quick. – Keenan
M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 10 / R- 7.5 / E – 4


Overall: 5.00

M – 3.92 / T- 3.08 / K- 7.66 / R- 5.92 / E – 2.5

Well, that one’s certain to cause some controversy… check back tomorrow for our review of Shipyard Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin Ale!