Posts tagged ‘Honey’

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.

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Spiced Harvest Ale – Fordham Brewing Co.

Sorry again for the publishing delays, hopefully that will be the last of them for this year. We had some technical difficulties for Friday’s review, and then we had no technology at all until today (but we’re finally in the new house).

Today’s selection is best paired with AMC hit series premieres.

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Name:  Spiced Harvest Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Delaware, USA / Fordham Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Spiced Ale / 6.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Released for the first time in six packs this year, Fordham Spiced ale is brewed with Pumpkin and Honey, with spices added (allspice, clove, cinnamon, ginger, and pumpkin).

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Packaging:

Replete with one of those great “Americana” labels featuring a tractor, pumpkins and a fields of grain as far as the eye can see, Spiced Harvest Ale reminds me of holidays spent visiting my Mamaw in Western Kentucky when the sun was setting, when fireflies came out, and that warm amber glow everything had at Magic Hour.  It seems silly to think of a beer bottle as comforting—without immediately wondering if I’m an alcoholic.  But, hey…I find it soothing. – Tim

The wit here is to be admired. Clearly Fordham is counting on 2012 to be legit, or for GMO corn to start the zombie apocalypse. Couple the caption with the rusted out silo and tractor on the label, and you’ll probably need a shotgun when you go hunting for some twinkies and a six pack. – Mike

I could get lost in photograph on this label.  A rusted old tractor, a pile of pumpkins and the overgrown hills of a farm at harvest time or during the apocalypse as the label seems to imply. – Brittney

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Color:  6.5

An amber ale leaning a bit on the Pilsen side, this has a slight unfiltered haziness that prevents it from being the sparkling ale I wanted it to be. Initial pour yields a healthy head that quickly flits off leaving a touch of foam on the top, and zero lacing. – Mike

It’s your basic burnt umber coloring, kind of bland in it’s appearance. The head disappears quickly and leaves no trace behind as far as lacing is concerned. It’s mostly opaque, but mix that quality with it’s unappealing brownish orange color and it could start to make you nervous. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 8 / R- 5.5

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Aroma:  7

Ale and honey and then pumpkin and spice.  All very present and in that order. – Brittney

Nutmeg and cinnamon are here in a substantial dose, with allspice and ginger coming in as a firm secondary. There is a light caramel malt backing it all up with a solid hay / grain smell that brings images of a farm at harvest time. Spice. Check. Harvest. Check. Ale. Check. Gotta give a few points for transparency. – Mike

Smells exactly like Costco pumpkin pie I have in my refrigerator right now—a harmonious blend of clove, allspice and cinnamon. It’s so delicious, I want to eat it—not drink it. – Tim

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

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Mouth feel:  5.5

A bit watery of a mouth feel on this one. It’s really bubbly over the tongue and you get a strong presence of ginger here. A sting of clove and a touch of cinnamon rounds out the body nicely here. – Rick

High carbonation levels leave the tell-tale “bubble burn” on my tongue.  With a light to medium body this ale isn’t gonna take home any prizes for mouth feel, but it’s passable.  I just prefer my beer a little less ‘bouncy’. – Tim

Light and bubbly, crisp and clean. A slight bite that reminds me sensationally of tart cider. There’s ample fizz to boot, keeping it nice and lively, if not particularly on the smooth side. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  6

A nice sweet pumpkin body really grounds this brew well. The spicing is decent with allspice being dominant and the ginger aspect really helps clean the finish. Focusing on the ginger, I come to find it may be a bit overdone, kind of wrecking the sweetness for me. – Rick

I love that I get so much honey from this.  It’s something that we don’t have much of a presence of very often.  I also love the earthiness of the pumpkin and spice.  The honey provides most of the sweetness so it’s not too overwhelming.  It’s as though each of the flavors have their moment and then settles. – Brittney

There’s definitely a bit more going on here than initial factors would indicate, which is nice, as frankly, I was expecting less. There’s a nice oatiness to the grain bill, and in tandem with the honey, instantly reminds me of a certain circular, cholesterol reducing cereal. The spice profile still leans heavily nutmeg for me, but in such a way that is complimentary to this, and, I have to say, I am glad to find it much more subdued that I was expecting from the first whiff. – Mike

Fully anticipating a pumpkin pie orgy of pallet bursting goodness on this one, I have to say, I’m a little vexed.  The flavor is muted and a very interesting thing has happened to the wonderful pumpkin pie aroma in the bouquet—once I took a swallow of this ale, the aroma has morphed into something resembling a spiced white wine, with disconcerting notes of plastic, paper and gingerbread.  I can pull some spices and some pumpkin but the ‘off flavors’ are overwhelming. – Tim

M- 6.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 8 / R- 5

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Finish:  5.5

The finish is dry and spicy, with that same crisp bite of the mouthfeel lingering almost to the point of astringency.  If it lingered a bit less, I might find it more appealing, but I feel like this could really blow the palate if you intend on drinking anything else afterwards. – Mike

The honey is not only the first thing I taste but also the thing that stays with me at the finish.  The finish is crisp with a hint of that subtle spice. – Brittney

M- 4 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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Flavor balance:  5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5

We’re dominantly spice and honey here, which is interesting, but definitely regulating the pumpkin aspect to the mash bill only, and bringing zero flavor to the table. Probably why they opted for leaving it out of the name. –  Mike

Before I take a swing, I’d give this a near perfect score, but the more the ale progressed, the more mystified I became and the more the bizarre elements started to present themselves.  – Tim

M- 4.5 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 4

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

A little on the dry side, this brew is heavily influenced by the ginger spicing that completely dominates my palate. A little more sweetness in this brew and I would be a big fan. – Rick

If the finish was a little more subtle, I would say this was balanced fairly well, but like so many elements of this ale, it seems to be disjointed and confused. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 3

–         Multiple Drinkability?  4.5

As much as I enjoy this beer I don’t think I could have another. In the words of Kris Delmhorst “maybe I’m just honey’d out”. – Brittney

Flavor intensity aside, this ale does prove pretty light on the belly, and that’s something to be said for throwing back a few.  So when you do drop that flavor intensity back in the equation, you’ll either want to stick around awhile, or abandon ship. Myself, I could probably stick out a session, but I can live with nutmeg morning breath. – Mike

There is only one chance I’d revisit this beer—and that’s the see if it was ‘just me’.  Otherwise, I’d keep searching for the perfect ale…because this teeters more on the precipice of failed promise. – Tim

M- 4.5 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 3

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Overall:  5.92

M- 5.25 / T- 5.58 / B- 7.33 / R- 5.92