Posts tagged ‘Imperial’

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

 

Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co.

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So it turns out getting wifi issues resolved in the mountains isn’t quite as easy as it would seem, but we haven’t left you for the year just yet. Leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday we will be making a few more reviews before winter brews completely take over the shelves. So put down those bottles with elves, krampus, or lovely snow scenes for a few more days, and join us in a few more gourd laden delights!

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Name:  Hipp-o Lantern Imperial Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lambertville, NJ / Riverhorse Brewing Co.

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Hipp-o Lantern is brewed with pumpkin purée, molasses, and a variety of hand crushed spices.

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Packaging:

A river horse, for those not in the loop, is a Hippopotamus. That established, the label art on this bottle is definitely fun, sporting a well illustrated hippo head jack o’lantern. It’s quirky and amusing, and still manages to get the brand and style across. For my money though, the lampooning of the headless horseman astride a hippo sported on the beer case is maximum laughs. Though in reality, that would be pretty damn terrifying. Have you seen the teeth on those things? – Mike

It’s a graphics intense label with little more than the name of the ale and the brewery up front and some minor tidbits about the concoction inside on the back. There is a whimsical illustration of a pumpkin that I would go so far as to say delivers a “not impressed” look on the neck.  Let’s hope that doesn’t foreshadow the ale to come. – Tim

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Color:  7

This is a beast of a brew boasting a great opaque and rich body that is just aching to be imbibed. It has a rich dark cinnamon profile that glows with an almost reddish hue when held to the light. My glass is also left with a fair bit of legging from the creamy head. – Rick

Pours a murky copper color with trails of carbonation floating to the surface where a small tan head holds strong. As the glass empties a bit you can catch a bit of sediment gathering around the bottom.  – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

Just a touch of everything, a bit of pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, a touch of malt and caramel. It has a really fresh, slightly nutty aroma. Sort of reminds me of the walking into the produce department near fall when it’s full of fresh earthy vegetables, sweet fruits and cinnamon brooms are inevitably hidden somewhere.  – Brittney

The bouquet is cinnamon and clove with pumpkin and caramel and just a touch of booze to carry it all to my nose. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 7 / B- 9 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This beer could stand to have a little more body and a little less carbonation. On a more positive note, it plays a fair balance that isn’t overwhelmingly slick or syrupy and doesn’t leave your mouth feeling like a desert. – Brittney

Refreshingly full bodied, this ale lives up to it’s imperial name. Well balanced flavors mix over the tongue, and I can’t tell that this has a high ABV it’s so smooth. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8

The first thing that pops out at me here, or rather, doesn’t, is the spicing. It’s there just enough to nod at you knowingly, but the star of the show here is a fine amber ale that is earthy pumpkin forward, with lots of crusty notes, and skips the sugary pie minefield all in one step. – Mike

Really well done, with pie spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg swirling around pumpkin puree and rich malts and hints of vanilla.  The ale itself touts how well it is balanced and I for one can’t seem to find a disagreement to be had there.  Not showy, but a solid ale all around. – Tim

 I like it when a pumpkin beer can pull back on the spice and let all of the other elements stand just as strong.  This is a nice blend of earthy pumpkin, nutty malt and enough spice to be a complimentary flavor instead of a crutch. – Brittney

Full flavored and full bodied, I’m really impressed with how well the flavors are balanced. It’s smooth and creamy with some vanilla shining just above the pumpkin flavors.- Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

The finish is as clean as you can expect from this style of beer, and with no overwhelming characteristics (I mean that in the best way possible) there aren’t any lingering flavors. – Brittney

This finishes like a neat rye whiskey. It’d pleasantly dry, with a touch of smoke, and quite savory. – Mike

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

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Flavor balance:  8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

It’s tricky to call out a specific spice as standing out here, which I find refreshing. River Horse managed to keep this ale both pumpkin forward and fairly dry for such a malty glass. The result is a nicely restrained offering that, while it may not blow your socks off, also won’t blow your palate. – Mike

Arguably one of the most balanced pumpkin offerings I’ve had, this ale isn’t broadly hitting every possible nuance of the varieties of pumpkin beer offerings, but still manages to compile the spice and gourd backgrounds into a swirling vortex of malty goodness. – Tim

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Sweetness in the body is tempered by a touch of sourness and the clean finish, once again showing a deft hand from the Brew master at River Horse. – Tim

I have a tough time with beer that is too sweet, so tasting an imperial pumpkin ale that is so full of flavor, yet so well balanced is a welcome treat. – Rick

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

This would be a great session ale for parties or as a mellow offer with with a bit of booze after a big Thanksgiving meal. It’s full and refreshing, but eludes a heavy, sugary gut full of bloat. All in all, a fantastic fall sipper for a cool evening. – Mike

If I saw this on the shelves it would be one of my top picks. It’s well rounded, balanced almost perfectly, and has cojones. – Rick

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

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Overall:  7.67

M- 7.58 / T- 7.17 / B- 7.83 / R- 7.67

Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout (Blackwater Series) – Souther Tier Brewing Company

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Three years into following us, you guys probably know how we feel about Southern Tier when it comes to pumpkin ale. Their legendary Pumking has proven to have an ephemeral time on store shelves, and inspires cultish hunts and gatherings around tap handles all across the east coast. So, with all of that as a given, you can clearly imagine our excitement at the news that there would be a special late season release of a new pumpkin brew, and part of their Blackwater series, home of their immaculate Crème Brulee Stout, no less. Tingles were had. High fives exchanged. Perhaps a single tear was shed. It was emotional. Don’t judge us…Also, today’s post is dedicated to Hudson, who is probably going to be born in the next few minutes. So raise a glass to Rick’s first kid tonight!

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Name:  Warlock (Blackwater Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lakewood, New York / Southern Tier Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Imperial Stout / 8.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed as a counterpoint to Southern Tier’s other extremely popular offering Pumking, Warlock is brewed with 2-Row, Caramel, Black, and Munich malts, along with pumpkin in the mash, hopped with Magnum and Sterling varieties, fermented with ale yeast, and has pumpkin pie spices added.

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Packaging:

Southern Tier always has some of the cooler labels. This new Blackwater Series release is no exception, really getting into the spirit with an all black palette and one magically maniacal gourd. I also love all the information they share, like specific ingredients. – Rick

With a near monochromatic color palate (white and black – with just a hint of purple) this stout maintains the graphic styling of the cadre of other offerings from Southern Tier.  The label itself features jack-o-lantern that hints of the majestic Pumking but this time sporting a sorcerer’s star and moon hat. – Tim

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Color:  7

This has an airy caramel colored head with almost non-existent lacing; the body has a dark brown to amber glow and is opaque enough to tell that you are unable to see through to the other side of this cloudy pour. This should be setting itself up for something intriguing. – Brittney

The Imperial Warlock pours as black as a moonless sky. Well, maybe just a crescent of a moon since it’s not totally opaque here. I can just make out a very faint glow on the edges. To top it all off, a light tan head seems a bit lacking after a gentle pour. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8

Roasted malts and caramel / toasted sugar sweetness fight a creamy nutmeg that makes it smell just like… Count Chocula. – Mike

An air of pumpkin pie with chocolate graham cracker crust and iced coffee, followed by the sensation of roasted malts and vanilla, dance from my glass like a the vapors from a magicians’ potion. – Tim

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

The color and aroma really had me hyped for a big thick full bodied brew but this presents a more medium bodied feel with a higher amount of active carbonation than the once prescient stillness of the glass infers. – Brittney

There is a unique texture here. It’s milky and medium-full, but not the gobs of stout 10W40 viscosity in so many other extreme beers. It is lighter feeling than it’s counterpart, Pumking, and avoids a slurry of bogging syrup. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  8

Dark caramel crème candies and a ton of malty honey-wheat breadiness. There is a lot going on in this glass, but it all comes back to cocoa and pumpkin pie. I also get a bet of a pecan and marshmallow note. Sweet and nutty to the last drop. – Mike

Roast malts meet roasted pumpkins in a vat of espresso.  Chocolate and bitter spices blend with cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg, crust and liquor, brandy and vanilla.  The stout is heady and a little boozy.  It has a steep curve to climb to match Pumking and despite its outward attempts to differentiate itself from that ale, it fees to me a little lacking in comparison. – Tim

In the world of beer a turned down mouth doesn’t always signify dislike. In this case there is a bit of initial bitterness for the palate to get used to masking any pumpkin flavor up front. It come through later with the uniqueness of the pumpkin and spice combination in Pumking.  Southern Tier knew they had a good thing with Pumking so they made it a stout. I just wish they had made this one a bit heavier and a little more unique.  What you do get of the coffee and chocolate notes are great, however, I wish they were a little more pronounced. – Brittney

This is awesomely sweet with a nicely balanced roasted malt profile. It’s nutty with burnt pumpkins, sweet vanilla beans, and coconut really making this a treat for the season. Speaking of seasons, I think this imperial stout will make a great transition into the colder months as we get closer to the end of the holidays. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 10

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Finish:  7

I really like the creamy smoothness of this brew. Right at the end it’s complimented with a touch of heat from the alcohol to kind of reset after the deluge of sweetness. – Rick

Finish is long and bitter with vanilla notes that are a little too pronounced contributing to a somewhat ‘candle-esque’ profile that unfortunately feels chemically delivered and not organically achieved. – Tim

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

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Flavor balance:  7.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

As far as the pumpkin to spice balance goes this one is pretty well balanced but tends to be slightly heavier on the spice end.  You have to reach for the pumpkin against the malt profile, while the spices stand right out. – Brittney

The spicing is really intense and a bit unique, which is always welcome. Nutty and sweet like coffee house fare, the vanilla and cinnamon help enchant the pumpkin out of this brew. – Rick

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

To be honest, this tastes a lot like Pumking, but with some select dark malt additions and a bit of lactose. The effect is a more easy drinking brew that is tempered by bitterness.  It’s a nice tweak, but not a revelation. And on what unholy scale do we rate this? By Pumking standards, it is substantially dryer. By all others, this is a firmly sweet stout. – Mike

Although it has been said that Warlock is supposed to finish sweeter than its counterpoint, I tend to disagree.  I considered Pumpkin to be pretty sweet and have to say that Warlock is pretty balanced to me. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 7

         Multiple Drinkability?  8

The harmony of the malt / pumpkin / spice here is fairly divine. I don’t know what dark arts tome they conjured the blend from, but it works well. You can almost taste the toasty souls of the damned. Though it may not be as heavy as I might like in either alcohol or body in the imperial stout realm, the bitterness is a welcome addition to the glass, and makes me feel, unlike the sweet bomb of awesome that is Pumking, that I might be able to complete a bottle myself. – Mike

I have no other choice than to put this beer up against Southern Tier’s Pumking and tragically I find that it does a disservice to the stout.  On its own it comes out a little ahead of the pack and it’s totally sessionable, so if you really dig it, by all means give it a go.  But, I think there are more interesting options in the market. – Tim

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

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Overall:  7.50

M- 8.17 / T- 6.83 / B- 7.08 / R- 8.25

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout – Harpoon Brewery

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One of the coolest things about craft beer is the spirit of freedom and experimentation that comes along with it. There are limitless options from the largest players, to the smallest local nano-brewers and home brewers, who will always have something new for you to sip on. Of course, it’s no different on the brewing end. All this variation comes about because craft brewers aren’t brewing for the masses, they are brewing for fun. What better way to get creative than to gather around a brew kettle and follow your muse with a few friends? Today’s brew keeps in that spirit, having started out as an experimental improvised beer, intended to be a porter, but as extreme things tend to get carried away, ended as a pumpkin imperial stout with every fixin’ within arms reach of the brew pot.

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Name:  Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Place of Origin / Brewer: Boston, MA / Harpoon Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Stout / 10.50%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin is brewed with dark brown sugar, pumpkin purée, black strap molasses, and dark malt, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

Perhaps one of the more simple labels we’ve seen with a harpoon skewering a pumpkin leaf with a big gourd in the background and an autumnal color scheme of greens and browns.  Nothing to differentiate it from the pack – but the label is refreshingly clean from a design standpoint. – Tim

It’s really cool how they incorporated the pumpkin vines leaf into the design, while still able to showcase a pumpkin theme. Also, it frames the label and title really well, and offers a nice prop to spear with a harpoon. – Rick

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Color:  6.5

This looks more like a very dark porter than a stout. Ruby notes show in all the edges of the glass, and it lacks that ultra full bodied appearance, seeming a touch thinner than most. – Mike (Editors note – We did not know the beer started as a porter project before tasting).

A creamy tan head with similarly hued lacing tops a dark espresso colored body with an amber glow towards the bottom of the glass.  The liquid is visually thinner in motion than its dark coloring lets on but in the realm of carbonation it is fairly still. – Brittney

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 7

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Aroma:  7

The nose is nice. It has a spiced rum quality of treacle and nutmeg. The roasted malt isn’t shouting at me, but it is there in the form of black coffee leanings. – Mike

The aroma isn’t overpowering, yet it still retains some complexity. A dry cacao nib presence is apparent on the nose mixed with notes of cinnamon and caramelized molasses. Somehow, all these flavors bring banana nut bread to mind almost immediately and now I’m salivating over this beer. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Mouth feel:  6

Thick and full bodied.  Soft with a velvet hand, and just a hint of carbonation on the tongue. – Tim

The carbonation of this beer is more prevalent and active than it looks, although the body is still pretty light and thin for a stout. The liquid seems to fall away in your mouth. – Brittney

M- 6 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Tasting notes:  7

There is a bit of a hefeweizen a banana note in here along with malty bread notes. The clove, admittedly, is probably just from the clove. It tastes like someone at Chiquita made pumpkin bread, and you bought it to accompany your iced latte. – Mike

Dark chocolate malts, burnt sugar and black strap molasses, clove, ginger and allspice all present themselves early with cinnamon on the back end.  The pumpkin is rich and caramelized, vanilla and almond notes and more bananas on the close.  This is a complex stout, with a lot of competing flavors that don’t always manage pure harmony – likely a symptom of brewing separate ales and then combining them. – Tim

Much like the aroma, your first taste has a bit of a fruity quality to it and then the roasted quality really opens up. This is where you can find a bit of a malt and cocoa note.  Eventually the very sweet molasses and brown sugar take over closing with a small smattering of pumpkin and cinnamon. – Brittney

Lots of spices to contend with here, but no single one seems too dominant, keeping the flavor profile a bit complex. They combine well with a flair of pumpkin and give this brew a nice fruity nature. Chocolate notes are subtly noticeable as well and help with a nice finish. – Rick

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

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Finish:  6.5

Long and bitter, perhaps even a bit too bitter, super dark chocolate and coffee notes on the finish along with more cloves and bananas. – Tim

The finish is alllll coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate. Like a Mexican ice cream frappe. The alcohol does have a bit of astringency in the mouth once the body eeks away. – Mike

M- 6 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance:  6

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

For all of the spices that are supposed to be featured I feel like this should be a lot more spice forward. That being said it is still leaning towards a spice dominant score because I can only find very tiny hints of the pumpkin. – Brittney

The depth of flavor is to be commending but the pumpkin—courtesy of a puree—is very much overtaken by the molasses and the spice. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

It’s on the sweeter end almost becoming too cloying, but the finish steps up and dries up the palate nicely. – Rick

This beer is very sweet. When molasses and brown sugar are listed on the bottle there is little room for anything but sweetness. – Brittney

M- 3 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 6

         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

There is a lot going on here, but it’s right up my alley with just the right amount of complexity. The stout aspect is really nice and the pumpkin flourishes just take it to another level. – Rick

The alcohol hit is a little bit of an ass kicker, especially since it doesn’t do a great job of hiding. While I enjoyed this a lot more than Harpoon’s UFO pumpkin offering, they still have some work to do. That said, I definitely give them credit for forward process, and a single serving is enjoyable to me. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Overall:  6.50

M- 5.75 / T- 7.25 / B- 6.08 / R- 7.00

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.

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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.

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Packaging:

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Overall: 7.50

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

Pumpkinator – St. Arnold Brewing Company

St Arnold

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

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Name:  Pumpkinator

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

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

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

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Packaging:

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

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Color:  7

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

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

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

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Aroma:  6.5

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

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

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

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Mouth feel:  7

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

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

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

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Tasting notes:  6.5

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

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

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

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

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

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Finish:  6

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

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

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

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Flavor balance:  6.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

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

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

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

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

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

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  6

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

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

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

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Overall:  6.58

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

2012 Rankings and the start of a new season

GPBR All Bottles 2

It’s that time again. We are sallying forth to acquire and consume more gourd infused carbs than any human rightfully should, with the noble goal of ranking it on a list face-off style. Of course, no comic book battle royale is complete without finding out who came out on top, so without further ado here are our rankings for the combined 2012 and 2011 beers we’ve covered so far. With 60 beers ranked, and a bevy of others pumpkin libations covered, it’s not an easy choice. In fact, we’ve got a couple of ties on the list, so don’t get confused by the funky numbering. Likewise, we’re also breaking down our top five personal picks, and our lowest ranking.
The battle isn’t over yet though. There’s a bevy of beverages coming up this season, and a few surprises in store as well. So stay tuned, and start picking up this year’s offerings. They’re already hitting the shelves.

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Top 10 Beers to Date Score

10. Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery  Score: 7.58

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Named for Delaware’s famous Punkin’ Chunkin’ events (seriously cool if you’re a late comer to discovery channel this time of year) Dogfish took home first prize for this recipe 6 months before they opened for business in 1994. It’s brewed with the pumpkin meat straight up, organic brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Notable Quotes

“A very fine ale this is. It’s a well balanced beer that utilizes all senses to fully enjoy it. I enjoy the balance of malts and hops underneath the various spices that all come together to make this a great brew!”

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7. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale – The St. Louis Brewery *3 Way Tie*  Score: 7.67

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Schlafly is brewed with Pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove, and features the use of Marynka hops, 2-row and Crystal malted barley, Munich malt, wheat malt, chocolate malt, and American Ale yeast, for a malty and slightly bitter backbone.

Notable Quotes

“The pumpkin at the front of this lulls you into a false ideal that this is a good representation of a pumpkin beer but nothing special. They then use the spice as their ace in the hole. It’s slightly over-whelming to the palate, but in a good way. This beer has just enough earthy pumpkin up front and an assault of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon at the end.”

Schalafly

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7. Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin – Uinta Brewing *3 Way Tie*  Score: 7.67

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Oak Jacked is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed with Pumpkin and traditional spices (no specifics appear on the label). It’s then rested on Oak barrels to add bourbon and vanilla notes. A particularly cool aspect though, is that, along with all of Uinta’s other brews, it is brewed with 100% renewable power fed from solar and wind. There’s some great other green practices going on with this company as well, and for that, we applaud them.

Notable Quotes

“Boozy and opulent with notes of vanilla and oak. Rich and chewy like carrot cake with big, bold spices. Lots of nutmeg and clove—with dashes of cumin. The pumpkin is broad and full with a pronounced sweetness that envelops the notable alcohol content, back-end bitterness and a slight metallic touch.”

Oak Jacked WEB

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7. Blight Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing *3 Way Tie*  Score: 7.67
(No longer in production)

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Blight is the 9th of Elysian’s 12 Beers of the Apocalypse that were released monthly throughout 2012. Each features a label borrowing graphics from native Seattle artist Charles Burn’s apocalyptic graphic novel “Blackhole”. The brew itself is made with pumpkin, dark brown sugar, and fiery Vietnamese cinnamon.

Notable Quotes

“Sweet, sweet sugary pumpkin with a PTSD inducing amount of brown sugar and Saigon cinnamon. That’s all. Seriously. It tastes amazing, but it almost shouldn’t count as beer. Kudos on the coalescence of flavors though, this could have easily tipped into the cinnamon mouthwash category, but someone nailed it.”

Blight_02

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5. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Co.) *Tie*  Score: 7.75

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Brewed with Two-Row Pale Malt Blend, Caramel 60, Special B, and Smoked Malt. East Kent, Goldings, and Fuggles hops are then added, along with 28 lbs of real pumpkin the barrel. Spices include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

Notable Quotes

“Wow. This is that deliciously burnt crust pumpkin pie reheat that you get the day after Thanksgiving. Piled in creamy goodness to keep it moist, and then finished with a slice of apple wood smoked bacon — because you’re the guy that eats pie for breakfast. The pumpkin tastes phenomenal, and there is no doubting of it’s presence. This barrel is bursting with squash, and momma slapped that hand away before it got too heavy with the spice. It’s got all the sweetness and weight of a Belgian triple.”

Fat Jack corrected

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5. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun *Tie*  Score: 7.75

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

Notable Quotes

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

treat1 WEB

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4. Slashed Pumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub)  Score: 7.83
(No longer in production)

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.

Notable Quotes

“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.”

Slashed pumpkin

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2. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie*  Score: 8.25
(No longer in production)

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.

Notable Quotes

“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.”

great plumpkin

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2. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing *Tie*  Score: 8.25

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Bewitched and brewed with pagan spirit, Pumking is brewed in tribute to Pủca, the benevolent Celtic goblin of fairy folk lore, who is both respected and feared, but notably a trickster of the highest degree. This beastly beer is brewed with 2-row pale malt, caramel malt, puréed pumpkin, and both magnum and sterling hops.

Notable Quotes

“Huge vanilla cookie notes–that are liable to send neophyte pumpkin beer drinkers running for cover–pop out ahead of pronounced cinnamon, sweet caramel malts and roast pumpkin flavors. It’s toasty and liquory with a background of clove, nutmeg and allspice. Tremendously complex, Southern Tier recommends serving at 40-degrees but as it warms up it displays cognac-like elements that are really unique to this beer.”

Pumking 1

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1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder)  Score: 8.83

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.

Notable Quotes

“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.”

All Jacked Up 2

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Top 5 Beers by Reviewer to Date:

Mike

1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder)   9.33
2. Pumking – Southern Tier   8.92
3. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun   8.83
4. Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin – Hoppin’ Frog   8.75
5. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams   8.67

60. Sarnac Pumpkin Ale   3.25

Tim

1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder)   9.08
2. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale   8.25
3. Blight Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing *Tie*   8.17
3. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams *Tie*   8.17
5. St.-Ambroise Citrouille / The Great Pumpkin Ale   8.00

60. Pumpkinhead – Shipyard Brewing   3.08

Brittney

1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder)   8.33
2. Southern Tier Pumking *Tie*   8.17
2. Slashed Pumpkin Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie*   8.17
4. Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing   7.83
5. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub)   7.67

60. Avery Rumpkin   3.50

Rick

1. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub)   8.67
2. The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog   8.58
3. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing   8.42
4. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale   8.33
5. Dark O’ The Moon – Elysian Brewing *Tie*   8.00
5. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) *Tie*  8.00

60. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider 3.50