Posts tagged ‘highly rated’

Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Dry Dock Brewing

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


Name: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale

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

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

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



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

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


Color: 6.5

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

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

M – 7 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5


Aroma: 7.5

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

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

M – 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7.5


Mouth feel: 7.5

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

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

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 8


Tasting notes: 8.5

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

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

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

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

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


Finish: 7.5

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

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

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


Flavor balance: 7.5

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

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

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

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

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

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

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

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

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

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

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 7.5


Overall: 7.50

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

Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery


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…


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.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Overall: 7.83

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

Gourdgeous footer

All Jacked Up – Cask & Larder (Ron Raike)

Today we visit another local gem that is sure to soon become firmly seated into a regular haunt.  From the minds of  James and Julie Petrakis, owners of the near infamous gastropub “The Ravenous Pig”, we give you “Cask & Larder”. We’re talking prime cuisine here folks, and with none of the uppity attitude to boot.

Cask is a re-imagining of the historic “Harper’s Tavern”, down to it’s southern inspired grub with a clever flair, family style whole cookery, and it’s extensive single pour whiskey list. To top it all off, Cask has employed one of our favorite local brewers, Ron Raike, to create a bevy of beverages tailor made for their menu pairings, with year round taps getting seasonal twists, and a few rotating pours to boot. We’ve sampled his creative beers before, from the infamous Ham Hock infused “Hammer Time”, to the Rum & Fruit vibe shift beer “Shifty”, and even nailing staples styles with their “Old Southern Wit”, and “5-Points IPA” (that they can barely keep on tap at 10 keg capacity per brew). Combine that with a number of collaborations with regional big shot craft breweries (and an upcoming beer pairing dinner going toe to toe with Cigar City), it’s not hard to find that the man is nothing short of prodigious. Suffice to say, we’re honored to have him pouring his kind of therapy in our town. We urge you to swing in as soon as possible and soak it in before the taps change once more. Oh, and check the bump below for some photos from our tour through the brew house.


Name:  All Jacked Up

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Cask & Larder (Ron Raike)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 6.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  All Jacked Up is a traditional style pumpkin ale brewed with 150 lbs of Tampa, FL grown Calabaza Pumpkins that are roasted in the kitchen by Cask & Larder’s Sous chef. The Pumpkins are then added to the mash, boil, and secondary fermented, based on the degree of char they received, along with mace, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and wildflower honey.


Packaging: A lone pumpkin impaled upon the spire of a tap handle. This one if draught only.



Color:  8.5

Sticky tan lacing and a murky head top off a glowing chestnut-amber liquid that is delivered to the table in traditional pilsner glasses. The suspense is killing me. – Brittney

Poured directly from the tap into a pilsner, this seasonal burns a deep burnt orange glow with ruby highlights and a soft opacity.  The single-finger dark crème head just kissed the rim of the glass and dissipated slowly leaving some nice lace in its wake. – Tim

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


Aroma:  9

Allspice, butter-crusty malt, honey, and squashy pumpkin abound. Notes of nutmeg and clove highlight. Rich, harmonious, and clean. Absolutely mouthwatering. – Mike

One of the best parts about this ale is the wonderful aroma. It smells like super sweet pumpkin and cinnamon followed closely by nutmeg. There is also a slight hint at a bit of honey sweetness. This aroma truly makes your mouth water in anticipation of each sip. – Rick

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


Mouth feel:  8.5

Each sip reveals it’s frothy medium-full body with a great presence on the tongue. There’s also a nice tang present that imbues a slight sour taste. – Rick

This is the very definition of medium bodied, with a refreshing bite that leads to a creamy and smooth swallow.  Gentle and foamy with only a mild amount of carbonation. – Tim

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


Tasting notes:  9

Brown sugar and sweet honey with ample nutmeg and roasted pumpkin flesh. There’s earthy mace and wood in the back with cedar qualities, and a bit of vegetal murk from a swish around the mouth. – Mike

My mother makes a pretty epic pumpkin bread that sorta ‘steams’ in the oven, then she wraps and chills it and we eat it cold.  It’s lush and velvety and dangerously delicious.  This is the liquid equivalent of that.  The spices explode on the palate and perfume my senses with a barrage of Autumnal extravagance. The lineup is a who’s who of textbook pumpkin spices followed by an earthy veggie back-end from the Calabaza pumpkins and a gentle sweetness from the wildflower honey.   I really can’t imagine a more perfect balance of meaty pumpkin in a sonata of spices.  I really want to find a flaw here, but I can’t.  This tastes like home. – Tim

I’m really trying not to be a fan girl here but Ron knows how to make a damn good beer. Just the right amount of earthy/squashy pumpkin with a honey sweetness, and just when you think it can’t get any better the finish completely blows you away. – Brittney

This brew has a great sweet pumpkin backbone to it’s body that all the other elements seem to compliment very well. It’s spicy, leaning towards peppery notes, and the wildflower honey really shines on the finish to offset this. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 10 / B- 8.5 / R- 7.5


Finish:  9

This literally made me stop and say “wow”. After a generously sweetened body, the swallow is enormously clean as it transitions into a bittering wheat textured dryness, and then back into a sweet cinnamon vanish. – Mike

Each sip is refreshing with a nice bitter-clean finish. There’s a peppery bite to it that mingles with the mace spicing, but the wildflower honey really helps balance all of these elements into one cohesive exit that prepares you for the next sip. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 9 / R- 8


Flavor balance:  9

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

Super balanced between the earthy squash flavor and the sweetness of the honey all presented on a foundation of a great combination of earthy spice. – Brittney

We foray into such a complex spicing here, but each nuance really shines in the fray, and our pumpkin never seems to cease. – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 7

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 8.5

I think the finish here, could conceivably put some pumpkin ale drinkers off—if only because they would want to savor the beer for just a little bit longer. However, I think the sweetness from the wildflower honey in the body is wonderful and it carries a few tell-tale floral notes into the crisp and clean finish.  In my opinion (which let’s face it, all of this is) this is an exceptionally balanced beer. – Tim

This ale takes you from sweet to dry and back again ending on a subtle sweet note. The use of the honey provides just enough mellow sweetness that it doesn’t take over. – Brittney

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  9.5

This must be the pinnacle of pumpkin beers, fresh, crisp, bready, yeasty, spicy, balanced, and harmonious beyond belief.  I could think of no better ale to carry me throughout the season.   Drink it while you can, beg them to make more.  It’s damn near perfect in every sense. – Tim

A nice hit of alcohol. A smooth and delicious ale with exceptional balance. I’m impressed. Come and get it before it’s gone. – Mike

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


Overall:  8.83

M- 9.33 / T- 9.08 / B- 8.33 / R- 8.00

A brisk trip through the tap fridge with Brew master Ron Raike.

The brew house, where it all goes down. It’s worth noting that you can make special reservations to dine in here.

Said casks; we didn’t get to visit the larder, but the sheer amount of sweet, sweet pork fat on the menu should speak for itself.