Posts tagged ‘New York’

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

Warlock

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

Doc’s Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider – Warwick Valley Wine Co.

Docs Draft copy

It’s fairly obvious to anyone with a taste for alcohol that the years of craft beer are in a new renaissance. Everywhere you turn, from the swankiest taprooms, to the lowliest dives, you’re going to be able to get your hands on at least a few solid alternatives to mass manufactured lagers. Something we’ve noticed in the last two years however, is among the beer ranks, there are plenty of fermented fruit options popping up as well. With ciders swelling in popularity, it’s not uncommon to find lists of flavor variations floating around, and pumpkin is fresh on the table to join its ranks. So if you just want some easy drinking along with your autumn offerings, here’s another option for your fridge.

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Name:  Doc’s Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider

Place of Origin / Brewer: Warwick, New York / Warwick Valley Wine Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Hard Cider / 6.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Doc’s Pumpkin Cider is pressed from New York state apples and fresh roasted pumpkins in the fermenter. It features champagne yeast and malic acid, and is spiced with cinnamon, allspice, fresh ginger, and nutmeg. It is naturally gluten free.

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Packaging:

A simple yet classic design, this label has an old world appeal. Nice touch with the gold foil wrap, and the artwork makes it very apparent that this is a pumpkin cider. – Rick

With a very Revolutionary War-era vibe, this label reminds me of a hanging shingle outside a pub circa the late 18th century.  A quote from Thoreau rounds things out – adding a very classy air to this cider. – Tim

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Color:  6

Golden straw in the fall sunset. There’s a quick fizzy head and a ton of carbonation from the bottom of the glass, which is tinted eyeglasses clear. – Mike

Golden, almost like champagne in appearance. There are so many bubbles due to carbonation. The only inkling of haze is the condensation on the cold glass; this cider is super clear and glowing. – Brittney

M- 6.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 4

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Aroma:  6

An unexpected amount of pie spice on the nose with cinnamon as the dominate flavor profile – after that it’s all apples for as far as the eye can see—or rather—the nose can smell. – Tim

Cinnamon, ginger, and clove apper quite bold over a slight touch of fruity pumpkin, but mostly the glass gives an impression of baked cinnamon apples, rather than pumpkin pie. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  5.5

Mellow apple and pumpkin flavoring washes over the tongue, and as expected there is a strong tart presence. Overall, this cider is clean, light bodied, and watery. – Rick

The carbonation is there visually but surprisingly not in the amount that you would expect in the mouth feel, obviously light bodied, no where near as syrupy as I would have expected. – Brittney

M- 4 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 6

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Tasting notes:  6.5

This is not your European dry cider. It’s sour-sweet, with a one-two punch of cinnamon and clove. There is a bit of creaminess that I would suspect is contributed by he pumpkin, but a big spike of acid makes this more of a warm weather version of a mulled cider than a stomach warming pumpkin treat. – Mike

A touch dry on the initial sip with an explosion of pure apple juice that’s been spiked with a cinnamon swizzle stick, but immediate the sweetness kicks in and man it does not let up – reaching apple soda levels.  It’s far too much of a candy beverage for me – like those sparkling ciders that the parents would serve the kids table during Thanksgiving. – Tim

This is refreshing, it is first and foremost a hard apple cider (so keep that in mind you hearty dark beer drinkers) with notes of cinnamon and ginger and a touch of pumpkin gently found throughout. Tastes like an apple/ginger/pumpkin pie with great notes of brown sugar and butter. – Brittney

Nice tart red apples mixed with sweet pumpkin and spice balance well to make this a tasty imbibement. The pumpkin is just the right amount to compliment the pleasant apple flavor. The best aspect that I take from this brew is it’s pretty refreshing and light on the palate. – Rick

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

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Finish:  5

The finish is basic mulled apple cider.  You tend to loose the nuances of specific flavors in a barrage of spices, but it’s that sort of finish that keeps you coming back to try and figure it out. – Brittney

It’s a little too much like juice for me, but the carbonation does help put a bit of a bite on the end. The body finishes nice and tart as expected from a cider, but that doesn’t keep it from being too cloying after each sip. – Rick

M- 3.5 / T- 5 / B- 5 / R- 5.5

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Flavor balance:  5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4.5

If it didn’t have a pumpkin on the label, I wouldn’t suspect it might be in there at all. The spice, however, you can smell three feet from the glass. – Mike

It’s almost unfair to scale this.  The spice is prominently cinnamon, touches of nutmeg and allspice are in there but there is no pumpkin to be had.  It’s more like pumpkin spiced apple pie – and about the same level of sweetness too. – Tim

M- 1 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 4.5

This one is hit and miss for me. The sweetness fits the overall cider style, but I feel it’s too pronounced. However, there is a bit of dry apple on the finish, but it’s just not enough to reel in this sugary drink.- Rick

Given the champagne yeast, I would have thought this might sneak in a dry finish, but it proves to be tongue coating sugar sweet one the bubbles have faded. – Mike

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  5.5

Very light and easy to drink and, for the most part, complex enough to keep you interested. – Brittney

If I wanted to substitute soda for alcohol then this would probably hit the mark. It’s definitely more of a summer drink, but with the fall flavor profile it actually seems schizophrenic at best. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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Overall:  5.67

M- 4.67 / T- 5.25 / B- 6.75 / R- 5.67

Southampton Pumpkin Ale – Southampton Publick House

All Hallow’s Eve is approaching fast and we’re doing our damn-est to chug down some of the more sinister slanted ales as the date approaches. Stay tuned next week as we countdown. In the meantime it’s Friday, so we went the extra mile and reviewed a whole six pack of Southampton. ***Spoiler alert: Rick didn’t like it.***

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Name:  Southampton Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Southampton Publick House

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Southampton is an Amber ale brewed with real pumpkin, spices, and vanilla extract.

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Packaging:

Orange and Black, this is a very classic, colonial styled label, touting “Long Island’s Original Craft Brewery”.  This label is really so steeped in tradition that it almost seems shocking to see they have only been brewing since 1996.  In fact, I found the old world characteristics so compelling I wouldn’t have felt it surprising in the least had it read “since 1796” on the ale. – Tim

The orange-washed image of the Southampton Publick House stands strong on the label.  Looks like a pleasant place, I think I might like to visit there one day. – Brittney

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Color:  6

This ale looks quite nice. Tons of motion, clear as crystal, and very rich dark amber tones. The head dissipates fairly quickly, but is constantly being refreshed by the activity of the ale. The color and clarity are the real highlights here though. – Mike

Strong bold amber coloring seems to be keeping with the norm in this style. The head appears frothy and highly agitated while leaving no lacing after vanishing. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  7.5

Strong flavor on the aroma. There’s a good bit of pumpkin and vanilla that compliment each other very well. I feel like I’m in for a delicious treat. – Rick

Classic spicing is fully on show with vanilla sugar and a sharp pumpkin snap. It’s nicely multifaceted, if hardly subtle. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  6

A model for a medium-bodied ale, this has a velvet thickness to it without leaning toward heavy.  The carbonation is a touch higher than I would like for a perfect mouth feel, but the beer is smooth and blossoming on the tongue. – Tim

Somewhat bland in this area; it’s super foamy and just a touch more dense than watery. I do get a malty smoothness that helps the drinkability, but this ale is light, too bubbly, and uninteresting. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 5

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Tasting notes:  6

Given the powerful aroma, this ale seems to be a good bit more reigned in than initially implied. We get a bubblegum fruity pumpkin with heaps of vanilla, on top of a dry and spicy amber ale that features quite a lot of caramel malt presence. – Mike

Very mild on the spice level, the pumpkin puree on the bouquet is also much more restrained here, allowing for nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice to present themselves.   However, even with the flavors peeking through the gourd, I find the ales nose to have been far more promising than the actual, physical body itself. I would have liked to seen a more malty ale than what Southampton is selling. – Tim

The taste arrives a little subdued after the intensity of the aroma but doesn’t completely let you down.  There is a nice mellow undertone of vanilla throughout with smatterings of that real pumpkin flavor, cinnamon and nutmeg. – Brittney

This ale virtually forgoes any traditional spicing and rests the flavor on the shoulders of the vanilla extract and pumpkin, which are also pretty weak. I’m sure there’s a hint of cinnamon in there, but the dry bitter finish masks all of the subtleties of the spicing. – Rick

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

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Finish:  5

I think I can still feel the sensation from the carbonation in my mouth long after it’s gone. The finish leaves behind mostly nutmeg and vanilla with a bit of bitterness. – Brittney

Tart and spicy, I get a pretty powerful punch of clove and drying nutmeg, but not so much that it lingers unpleasantly long, rather queuing to a tight finish with crusty bread notes. – Mike

M- 6 / T- 6 / B- 5.5 / R- 3.5

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Flavor balance:  5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5.5

This ale is a little more schizophrenic than I’d like to see.  The aroma is spot on for pumpkin with subtle spices, but the body holds more spice than gourd.  If the finish could have balanced everything out this would have scored a little higher, but overall it’s a noble effort. – Tim

The aroma brings more to the table than the taste does so unfortunately it gets a little lost among the spice. – Brittney

M- 6 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 3

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

A bit dry with mulled cider tartness beginning to dominate by half glass. – Mike

Usually I like a drier beer, but this one has me wanting more sweetness out of it. It doesn’t help that the finish is on the sour side for our pumpkins. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 3

–         Multiple Drinkability?  5

It might seem like I’ve been overly critical of this ale for its somewhat disjointed overall vibe, but the truth is, this is a very approachable fall brew and you could do a lot worse than taking home a sixer and settling down to some turkey and stuffing.  It’s a decent beer and I wouldn’t pass up another bottle. – Tim

Nothing here to stop you from having more than one.  Pleasant enough to have another. – Brittney

M- 5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 2

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Overall:  5.92

M- 6.17 / T- 6.42 / B- 6.67 / R- 4.58

Autumnation (limited release 2011) – Sixpoint Brewery

Have you all returned from your turkey and pie comas for another round? Admit it, in the back of your head you were trying to pick out the spices in your pie and rating them like a beer weren’t you? Or was that just us…?

With 2011 touting their first autumnal release Sixpoint Brewery is already making waves. Having just started canning their product for the first time this may, it may take a little searching to track down, but this brewery seems to be on the right track, with a focus on unique brews, new spins on classical elements, and some excellent marketing strategies, we’re definitely looking forward to what’s to come. I mean, how many beers have a you tube trailer? (You can catch a link at the bottom of this review).

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Name:  Autumnation (Limited Release 2011)

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Sixpoint Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Wet Hopped Pumpkin Ale / 6.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Autumnation is brewed with pumpkin, ginger and white pepper, then wet-hopped with freshly harvested Citra hops, often less that a few hours old, from the oldest continually farmed hop farm in the country. Canned pumpkin is  added directly to the boil. In addition, 800 pounds of fresh harvested Amarillo wet hops are added to secondary fermentation.

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Packaging:

This is our first offering in a can and I’m swept away by the crafty appeal they’ve built in. From the metallic rust orange, with reddish accent line work,  the bold western feeling six point star mark, and a chunky text style and pumpkin wrought in chocolate brown, it’s one of the prettiest beer cans I’ve ever seen. Being a little taller than the rest doesn’t make it any less handsome either. Top it all off with a quote from Robert Browning Hamilton, and you just well may have one of New York’s finest. – Mike

It’s sort of fascinating that beer in a can has become such a novelty in the craft beer world, but Six Point is representing the crusher with this single pint ‘tall boy’ in a copper-hued can with stars and decals and an aesthetic that looks like  it’s channeling Shepard Fairey. – Tim

Unusual in this realm being that it comes from a can, this pints design doesn’t put a ton of importance on the pumpkin aspect other than a small outline of a gourd to the side.  The short description puts a lot of emphasis on the change of the season and the cycle of it all that gives us pumpkin ale in the first place. – Brittney

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Color:  7.5

Pours an antique copper–that almost mirrors the can– with slight opacity and a striking two-finger head with grand staying power and an degree of impressive lacing.  – Tim

Very opaque with a good strong head and decent lacing.  It’s coloring is the typical cinnamon pumpkin orange variation that is so common with this style. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  5.5

Very hoppy with a background of ginger and pumpkin.  I also smell a tart citrus, like grapefruit.  There is also an aroma that smells a bit like wet earth (I’m not going to say mold but you get the picture), which I’m assuming are the wet hops mentioned on the can.  – Brittney

Hop forward and spicy, with ginger at the forefront. I don’t get much in the way of pumpkin, unless I inhale deeply and let the taste settle in the back of my throat to procure just a touch of vegetable meat. – Mike

Grapefruit and flowers and tell-tale hoppy overtones are all over the forefront of this brew with fresh vegetal pumpkin touches of ginger. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 4

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Mouth feel:  6.5

It has a good presence on the tongue with a light to medium body.  It’s really smooth until the bitter finish, but it strays from drying up and leaving a cottonmouth-like feeling that some hoppy beers can.  – Rick

Begins crisp and actively carbonated with a light to medium body and then mellows out to finish just thick enough to stay on the tongue. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  6

Ginger and hops storm the gates, bashing their way past your teeth with a bittering-ram, and squarely punch you in the uvula. Then as it begins to slowly decay, the wet hopping subsides to a smooth but bitter pumpkin, that seems like it should be drying, but doesn’t seem to have that effect on the tongue. It’s interesting to say the least. – Mike

Stepping into IPA territory Autumnation is a delightful harvest ale with fresh pumpkin and tons of hoppy goodness all over the brew.  Touches  of malty caramel converge in the body and the sourness and acidity of the ale help push the brew into the Indian Summer realm of beers that work best with it’s still ahead of the mid-range on the heat index–which works well for Florida drinkers who don’t see true cold weather till well past Turkey day.  – Tim

Hops, Hops and more hops followed by spices like ginger and some earthy pumpkin.  This is dry and slightly bitter but not overly so.  It would take a lot to pick out that this was considered pumpkin ale if you didn’t know it was supposed to be. – Brittney

This beer stands out for it’s unique use of wet hops, but I think it flounders in trying to evoke a pumpkin ale.  The ginger is just barely noticeable and I’m left without any pumpkin flavor.  Really, the only characteristic that has any pumpkin like quality is the coloration. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R-  2.5

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Finish:  6

I taste like I’m sucking on fresh hops after rinsing with ginger mouthwash. It’s actually strangely appealing, but it’s certain to turn off quite a few. If you like them bitter though, this is a unique long finish that will hold it’s position on your tongue until you surrender. – Mike

This is the sort of finish that just kind of hangs out in the back of your throat.  Your mouth is left with the usual dry malt beverage battle scene and just when you think that is all there is there is a touch of hoppy syrupiness telling you to take another sip.  – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 5.5 / R- 5

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Flavor balance:  5.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

There is hardly any pumpkin flavor to this ale.  The can says there is “spice” included, but there’s nothing to sweeten this one. The ginger is a nice touch that works well with the citrus notes without being overwhelming though. – Rick

The hops dominate here making the breadth of pumpkin spices just barely register, or at the very least disclose in a more ‘herbaceous’ manner–however the fresh pumpkin on the nose along with the tartness of the gourd work well in keeping with the fresh nature of the ale. – Tim

M- 3 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

There’s very little sweetness here, but there’s a touch of burnt malt that offsets the dry body and finish of this beer in the backend to keep it from being overpowering. – Mike

This ale has a good balance here.  It starts off bitter and finishes with some sweet malts that peek through at the end.  About half way through this beer, it seemed to become less bitter and a little sweeter. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 6.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

A pretty solid beer for sessioning, that masks the 6.8% ABV very well–which will be wonderful for IPA drinkers and those of your looking for a pumpkin beer that’s a bit more reserved than the ‘pumpkin pie in a can/bottle’ offerings that some more traditional brewers are pushing this fall. – Tim

Given the full pint can and intensity of this brew, nursing one is enough for me to enjoy the character and nuances here, without getting my tongue too burnt out for another offering. – Mike

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

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Overall:  6.17

M- 6.50 / T- 7.16 / B- 6.42 / R- 4.67

Be sure to check out the link below to check out this brew on youtube! It’s worth a watch!

Autumnation

Bluepoint Pumpkin Ale – Bluepoint Brewing Company

As much as we’d like to give every craft brewer a pat on the back, the bottom line is, just because it’s independent, doesn’t mean it’s great. Sometimes things just need a little work, sometimes they need a lot, but we try to keep it critical and straight up, and hopefully, that feedback is appreciated.

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Name:  Bluepoint Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  New York, USA / Blue Point Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 6.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed with pumpkins “from only the most sincere patches”, this seasonal brew is golden orange,  with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

I really like the country  store nature of this burlap label.  It’s got a real folksy craft vibe that gives me small town Americana vibes– like sitting on a porch after a long day, eyes gazed across the golden waves of wheat quivering a the field while John Mellencamp’s Scarecrow album plays. – Tim

Yeah, there’s a pumpkin on it, but it’s not jumping off the shelf to me.  The colors are subdued and the overall labeling seems like another Photoshop blunder.  I’m not sure why the “burlap sack” texture has to dominate the entire label, including the logo and ale’s name. – Rick

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Color:  6

Cider clear with a brown sugar tint and just the slightest hint of orange  to remind us that this is in fact a pumpkin beer. – Mike

Crystal clear, golden brown and very active, it looks like a cold glass of cream soda.  It has a solid head and heavy lacing.  – Brittney

M- 4.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 6

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Aroma:  6

This ale has a great sweet aroma, mostly fulfilled by the nutmeg and cinnamon spices.  There also seems to be a pumpkin based scent as well. – Rick

There is a really earthy spice to it.  Usually, it’s the pumpkin that I describe as earthy but the nutmeg and cinnamon are coming through as really raw with a creamy caramel. – Brittney

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 6.5 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  4.5

It’s Light-bodied without stepping completely into ‘light beer’ mode but still not very substantial for an ‘ale’. – Tim

Almost watery light, with a drying bitterness that belies that same quality. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  4.5

Warm and spicy, with a touch of smoky baked pumpkin and a good bit of cinnamon. The nutmeg seems to take on subdued sense, but is certainly prevalent as well. Most notably though, is the fair amount of hop dried texture that makes this ale variable from the rest, particularly given the quite light body. – Mike

Ever have a beer that just sort of tastes like ‘beer’?  That’s Blue Point for me.  Some minor sweetness from the malt, notes of Carmel, some sour vegetal pumpkin flavors pop up here and there. A little more honey on the back-end–but it was better in the bouquet.  Overall it’s a bit watery and far to innocuous and one-dimensional to regard with much rapture. – Tim

Frankly, I’m pretty bored with the taste of this beer.  It’s heavy on spice and dry.  The pumpkin is really hard to place and every other supporting ingredient is lacking character.  – Brittney

This malt beverage is very drinker friendly.  There’s a slight bit of sweet spice to it, but the carbonation really dilutes any flavors from flourishing.  There is however a nice hop finish that’s not too bitter or overwhelming. – Rick

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

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Finish:  4.5

Actually the brew has a nice crisp finish revealing some dryer characteristics that weren’t prevalent in the body, touches of pumpkin on the close and that’s about it–clearing the palate pretty swiftly. – Tim

Dry and forgettable. – Brittney

Right before the hoppy finish, I’m presented with the slightest touch of sweet malts.  It’s a crisp and clean finish with a little bite at the end. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 5 / B- 4 / R- 4

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Flavor balance:  4.5

 

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

The pumpkin flavor isn’t very prominent, but there are some sweet spices like nutmeg and cinnamon that are there. Somewhere. – Rick

Way more spice, the pumpkin is almost nonexistent. – Brittney

Spice dominates this ale, and while it offers an interesting perspective, the pumpkin is almost completely lost on me. If this was put out as a lighter autumn offering, it would be much more on point. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 5 / B- 4 / R- 2.5

 

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

The caramel malts and the honey notes add a nice bit of sweetness in the glass, and the crisp finish reveal a pretty solid cohesion in the product, it just serves a master that’s not up to the task on the other fronts. – Tim

I noticed that this beer starts sweet with the aroma and malts being dominant at the initial sip, but soon end up finishing dry. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 5.5 / B- 5.5. / R- 4.5

 

–         Multiple Drinkability?

This is easy as heck to drink, but sadly that seems to be more because the texture more closely resembles the near teetotaling American mass produced beers, than something that you’d want to return to for it’s own merit. – Mike

I’d personally pass on another round, but since this sorta falls under what I would consider a ‘light pumpkin beer’ you could probably knock back a sixer of this and not feel any pain or regret.  So take that as you want in terms of a recommendation. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 3.5 / B- 4 / R- 4

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Overall:  5.00

M- 4.83 / T- 4.92 / B- 5.08 / R- 4.83

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale – Smuttynose Brewing Co.

What can I say? Sometimes we just don’t agree with other critics. If the spirit of craft brewing was strictly an experimental process, we’d be all about this ale. It’s bold, defined, and exceedingly different. But we like to think there’s more to it than that, and bold or no, this one just misses the mark for us.

On another note, we hope you all are prepped for a fantastic holiday, and have a few p-brews stocked away for the big day. Due to the sheer volume of stuff we’ve got to cover, we’re going to have to extend this years coverage through the end of the month, but hang in there, because we’ve got a few rarer options to talk about, and hopefully, it will give you an incentive (and head start) to track them down next season!

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Name:  Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This particular ale opts for pumpkin puree over the raw pumpkin approach, and features it strictly in the mash phase. Traditional spices are then added to compliment the profile.

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Packaging:

You know what I dig the most about this very straightforward label?  It’s the photo of the pumpkin that has this “Farmer’s Market Homebrew” feeling to it, and the decision of the brewer to include the scientific name (Cucurbita Pepo) for the Field Pumpkin under it.  After that, Smuttynose imparts almost zero information about what’s in the bottle.  I like that duality of both science and mystery on display here!  – Tim

Our first photo realistic label so far, Smutty sports a pie pumpkin with a heckuva stem to it, along with a scientific species labeling of the squash pictured. Also featured is the company logo on the neck, a Harbor seal, and native resident of Smuttynose Island. – Mike

The image on the label looks more photographic than most of the drawn or “clip-art” images used on other labels.  Not much else is given to describe our beverage other than an “ale brewed with pumpkin puree & spices” squeezed in under a very generic Pumpkin Ale title. – Brittney

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Color:  5.5

Mustard and tangerine highlight this glass, giving it the reminiscence of fresh pumpkin rind rather than inviting ale. A single finger head also slowly dissipates to a thinner line, with an impressive amount of lacing. – Mike

Hazy orange like a soft field fog hovering just above the earth on an early sunrise in a pumpkin patch.  And, to literally top it off, we get a massive two-finger head with slow dissipation leaving clingy lacing all around. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5

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Aroma:  7

Initially it smells sweet with overtones of nutmeg.  Then, the sour pumpkin notes start to work their way in creating a nice mixture. – Rick

Earthy raw pumpkin, sweet caramel, spicy nutmeg, smooth vanilla and a touch of musk are the main points I’m getting with a quick hinted finish of woody citrus.  It’s almost as if they have infused the beer with the 1972 perfume Jovan Musk for women. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  5.5

The refreshing part is that it is not another medium to heavy bodied beer that coats your mouth with a syrupy sweetness.  This one is slightly lighter, crisp, and bitey.  Its active carbonation excites the palate and the dryness brings warmness to the tongue.  – Brittney

I was taken aback by the abrupt mouth wide tingle that seems to mask any flavor at first.  It’s heavily carbonated and the bitterness leaves my tongue dry. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 5 / B- 7.5 / R- 3

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Tasting notes:  5

There’s an intensity and bitterness here that I can only describe as oaky and earthy, with the hops playing a grand slam role in the profile. The effect tends to regulate the pumpkin more to the vegetable realm, but in all honesty, the intensity of this brew’s foundation doesn’t seem to have any intention of playing the dessert game, thereby letting the spices play a similar bitter mash up on the senses. – Mike

The beer doesn’t hide behind the spices or the pumpkin.  Of the spices I taste mostly nutmeg and some cinnamon but I also taste the raw earthy pumpkin and the sweet caramel smoothness.  The hops are very prevalent and bring a slight floral, citrus note into the mix creating a very distinctive pumpkin beer option. – Brittney

The sweetness in this beer is minute under such a dry and bitter body that I did not expect.  It’s also a little tart and sour from the pumpkin puree. – Rick

Wow…that was not what I expected from a fall ale!  With no warning on the label, this bad boy is astringent and bitter as sin.  It would appear that these guys have crafted a hoppy, citric beer, that is way more in line with Smuttynose’s IPA offerings than with what the general consensus would call a ‘pumpkin ale’.  It’s floral with notes of oranges and grapefruit that have been dusted with dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon. – Tim

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

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Finish:  5

Clean, crisp, and peppery, there’s yet another unusual aspect to this beer, that seems to want to dance the floral and earthy IPA dance, leaving the malts a bit in the dust. – Mike

Long and dry, with the grapefruit carrying the torch to the bitter (literally) end.  I’ve had some dry IPA beers in my day but this one damn near needs a chaser of water to help get it down.  – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 4

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Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

What pumpkin there is in the nose is lost in the body and only hints on the close.  The spice is even superseded by the hoppy bitterness. But, as the initial shock wears off you do get touches here and there.  I guess what I’m saying is that neither the pumpkin nor the spice are predominant over the citric notes. – Tim

The pumpkin puree that is used in the making of this brew leaves it too sour and dry to be able to find any spices. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 2.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

A traditional pumpkin flavor is lost here, leaving the ale to be overly bittered and sour, and any sweetness is out of the question. – Rick

It’s dryness is only broken by a brief moment of respite on swallow, where the malts finally make an appearance, before plunging back into a liquid orange pit never to be heard from again. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 3.5 / B- 6 / R- 2

–         Multiple Drinkability?

One or two would probably be my limit.  It has good flavor but the dryness is super harsh.  – Brittney

Overall this beer is complex, intense, and intriguing as hell. That said, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, or the casual pumpkin seasonal approach. Smuttynose has crafted something here for those that take their beer style preference seriously, and have no tolerance for traditional pumpkin offerings. That said, it seems to be of more value to me as a sense of showmanship, than a seasonal session ale. – Mike

Hop heads might just adore this, but with a lackadaisical approach to balancing the pumpkin and spice against the citrus and floral profile, I’d have to ask why you’d even chose this beer over your favorite IPA….unless you just wanted to be ‘festive’. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 1.5

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Overall:  5.42

M- 5.67 / T- 5.17 / B- 7.25 / R- 4.00

Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.

Hope you all had a great Halloween! Don’t forget to send in your pumpkin pics to greatpumpkinbeerreview@gmail.com for your shot at a free shirt!

Now then, many of you know November first as the beginning of the festival Dios de Los Muertos, but there is another tradition that is less familiar to those of us in the states. In the Gaelic tradition, this time signals a period where everything left in the fields after the harvest is “puka”, or fairy blasted, and thereby considered inedible. Not coincidentally, this is also the one time of year where the faery goblin spirit Pủca actually acts a civil beast, primarily because it comes in to finish off the what is left of the crops in tribute. This may sound vaguely familiar to what occurred on your door step last night…

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Name:  Pumking

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Southern Tier

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

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.

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Packaging:

I’ve always been a really big fan of the multiple textures in the design of Southern Tier’s labels and this one is no exception. Clean and gratifying, with a mischievous looking crowned Jack O’Lantern ( maybe in tribute to the one legendary rider of the Pủca, high King of Ireland Brian Boru?) and flitting bat motif. The addition of the story behind this beer is an exceptionally nice touch. – Mike

With it’s wicked crowned jack o lantern, Pumking heralds the season in true style, while the bottle delivers a plethora of information about the brew within.  Another solid bottle from the folks at Southern Tier. – Tim

A menacingly grinning jack o’ lantern greets you with bats gliding through the sky.  Along the side you are given a lesson in Celtic folklore readying you for this imperial ale “bewitched & brewed with pagan spirit”. – Brittney

The graphic is great on this one, truly standing up to it’s place as the king.  The brewing notes are a nice touch that I haven’t noticed on any other labels before.  – Rick

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Color:  7.5

Orange.  I could say ‘oh, it’s a brilliant golden straw appearance’ but my entire thought process is ‘that’s really orange, maybe pumpkin orange, or the orange in candy corn but it’s definitely orange.’  Also, it’s somewhat cloudy, with very minimal head and little to no lacing. – Brittney

Numismatists rejoice! This looks like an uncirculated wheat penny, slightly dulled copper from age, but still sparkling clear. Wait, what? – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 8 / R- 6

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Aroma:  9

Now we’re talking.  It’s like buttery crumbly crust before the pie is added.  Super sweet brown sugar and nutmeg dominate the nose, and the caramel malts are a nice touch too.  Although, not the most pumpkiny, it’s one of the best smelling pumpkin beers, period. – Rick

In some pumpkin beer reviews you will get the occasional “It smells like pumpkin pie.”  Usually, that’s because of the spices and slight pumpkin aroma.  This one smells like pumpkin pie as well, but this time it’s because of the pumpkin and the crust.  A crust that is beautifully buttery and embraces baked pumpkin perfection with just a touch of whipped cream and caramel drizzle.  – Brittney

This sucker hops right out of the bottle with so much sweet pumpkin, you’d think you’d just been jammed inside one by your half wit husband Peter (anyone? Anyone?). Allspice and cinnamon also make their presence well known, with ginger and nutmeg simmering lightly on the back burner. – Mike

M- 10 / T- 7.5 / B- 9 / R- 9

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Mouth feel:  8

Smooth and creamy, medium-bodied but almost straddling the fence into heavy (but not chewy) territory–with a bouncy carbonation. – Tim

The first sip is like the one you keep trying to chase.  A melange of flavors bombard the tongue in a phosphoric dance that leaves your tongue tingling for more.  It feels watery but the bite from the 8.6% ABV reminds you that this is a serious brew. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes:  9

If they ever fall on hard times (which I seriously doubt will ever happen), Southern Tier could make perfumes, or air fresheners, or kick ass when we get back around to smell-o-vision.  If you’ve ever had any of their other creations you know they pack a serious punch…to your nose… and then to your taste buds.  They have perfected making something full of unique flavor.  Pumking is no different.  Crammed with notes of pumpkin, caramel, malts, butter, cream, and more pumpkin. Never having to use the spice as a crutch to get their point across but using just enough to let you know they haven’t forgotten the recipe.  – Brittney

Sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious, this is almost an alcoholic pumpkin pie ice cream, that maintains a gratify hop fueled  nutmeg spice snap on the back end, perfectly complimenting the milky pervasion throughout. It’s what I’d expect the perfect pumpkin pie liqueur to taste like, and it’s dangerously smooth. – Mike

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. – Tim

This seems like the most complex of pumpkin ales, yet simple at the same time.  The heavy handed nutmeg adds a nutty smoky sweetness, while not going overboard.  It’s very light and smooth for an imperial ale. – Rick

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

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Finish:  8

Long and complex, you first get the sweet pumpkin burst, then a bit of the 8.6%, and finally it settles in to a pleasantly spiced bitterness that serves to reset the palate for the next round of sweetness. – Mike

There are so many flavors going on that the finish is almost a relief, but only in so much that the actual relief is that you haven’t actually finished.  The ‘finish’ is bitter, dry and spicy, the perfect counter to the sweet and creamy start. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Flavor balance: 8

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

I have to applaud Southern Tier for putting the pumpkin up front here. It’s nuanced, and bold, and it shows that someone put a lot of effort into getting it right, rather than leaning on bitter hops and spice to jump the autumn beer train with pumpkin as an afterthought. That said, there’s definitely a solid chunk of spice here, that’s subtle only in it’s palatial choosing, and boisterous in presence. – Mike

It’s got a hold on the uniqueness of it’s spice profile.  While the spices stand out, there is still a tang from the pumpkin, which is more than a lot of pumpkin ales can say. – Rick

A positively unusual lean toward pumpkin here, it’s not balanced but bravo for not relying on spice flavor. – Brittney

Huge spice to pumpkin skew here will leave patrons of gourd friendly ales searching for more equilibrium than Pumking is serving. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 6 / B- 8.5 / R- 9.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

The hops are just noticeable under all the nutmeggy goodness and sweet caramel malts which lends to a great balance. – Rick

The caramel malts and bready vanilla cookie thrust move Pumking decidedly into the dessert category (I bet this would rock with some ice cream floating in it). Happily, the high alcohol content beats back an inherent nature in the ale that if not handled correctly could wind up as sickly sweet as a Lifetime movie. – Tim

At first it seems obvious that Pumking favors the sweet tooth, but that’s to shallow an evaluation. It’s really more of a pumpkin spice latte, with creamy elements, and that black coffee bitter on the end, and while it could have been easy to let sweet treats predominate, they’ve shown an exceptional sense of discrimination that keeps you coming back for more.

M- 8.5 / T- 6 / B- 8 / R- 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

In the past I’ve personally killed a couple of pints of this but with food to break it up it was clearly more manageable.  For just a night of drinking, I fear Pumking would fill me up fast.  A treat to be sure, but like all those plastic pumpkin heads piled to the brim with candy confections, the key to surviving the season is moderation. – Tim

This pumpkin ale is like a breath of fresh air.  It seems to be evenly balanced in all the right places, while still presenting a great unique experience with each sip.  This is definitely the King of pumpkins. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9

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Overall: 8.25

M- 8.92 / T- 7.08 / B- 8.17 / R- 8.42

Saranac Pumpkin Ale – Matt Brewing Company

Sorry for the lack of quip on this one. I’m most likely drunk in Ireland somewhere right now! But read on, and you’ll find that for Saranac, it’s best that this crew agree to disagree.- Mike

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Name:  Saranac Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  New York, USA / Matt Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Spiced Fruit Ale / 5.4%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Featuring Cascade hops, Maris Otter and Wheat Malts, and a bevy of spices including cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger, and vanilla, Saranac aims to be your go to beer for pairing with fowl and game birds, assumedly making it a pairing selection for heavily basted holiday scarf fests.

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Packaging:

This is what I’m talking about….a Halloween beer!   Saranac’s dark label and mischievously grinning jack o lantern looks perfectly seasonally sinister, which is exactly what I want from an autumn ale centered around my favorite holiday.  You want St. Nick for Christmas and I want a scary pumpkin for Halloween. – Tim

Straight to the point and in you face with a classic Jack-o-lantern graphic helps this bottle stand out.  The simple bio on the neck is a nice touch, but what I’m really missing here is the ABV content that seems to be a mainstay with craft brews. – Rick

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Color:  6.5

A true amber with ruby values, and a luminous clarity. Very little head to speak of. – Mike

This ale has a nice dark amber color that glows with a reddish shimmer while held up to the light.  There’s a decent foamy head at first, but it quickly settles.  – Rick

M – 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5 / E – 4

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Aroma:  5.5

The nose is tremendously fascinating with sweet pumpkin spices of cinnamon and nutmeg interlaced with an earthy leathery smokiness reminiscent of beef jerky.  I can’t seem to stop smelling this beer.  It’s captivating.  – Tim

Honestly, a bit unimpressive. I’ve got my nose half in the glass and all I can pull is a faint bitterness and dare I say…Lunchmeat? – Mike

There is a fair bit of sweetness found in the aroma.  Cinnamon and all spice stand out with a hint of smokiness somewhere in there.  Otherwise, kind of bland. – Rick

M – 2.5 / T- 8 / B- 6.5 / R- 5.5 / E – 5

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Mouth feel:  5.5

The bite from the carbonation in this beer makes it seem bolder than it actually is.  It’s body is pretty watery and light letting the spices really flourish. – Rick

A nice medium bodied beer that feels slick in the mouth with just enough carbonation to keep your attention. – Brittney

Not too thick, not too thin. This sucker sits the fence pretty hardcore, but in doing such, ends up being more of a wallflower than anything else. – Mike

M – 5 / T- 6 / B- 5.5 / R- 5 / E – 6

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Tasting notes:  5.5

Other pumpkin brews have pushed more of a “pumpkin pie” concept, leaning heavily on cinnamon and clove combined with an overt sweetness to make an overall “dessert” drinking experience.  This is refreshingly savory – striking as a brown ale with a pleasant malt character, well-controlled spices (allspice being more prominent than cinnamon or clove) and a trace of vanilla. – Erich

There’s a fairly substantial crisp bite from the dryness which is a tad overwhelming here.  It’s not very sweet and I pick up some peppery notes in the background.  I found this ale to be hard to decipher, and the spicy overtones really turned me off. – Rick

It’s a different pumpkin ale I’ll give it that.  They didn’t lean too much on spice as a crutch and sort of left out pumpkin altogether.  I’m not really sure what they were trying to achieve – Brittney

Smooth and malty with a convergence of molasses and caramel notes, tang and roast pumpkin, a whisper of smoke and ginger, more pumpkin and a hint of bitterness from the hops.  The smoke flavor is really what I keep coming back to.  It’s subtle in the body but adds a really interesting dimension to this beer. – Tim

Hints of smoke and bitterness prevail, over faint traces of clove, ginger, and cumin. There is a trace of burnt molasses that might acquiesce the presence of pumpkin in the mash, but nothing I would remotely call sweet. I’m kind of hoping we got a skunk batch. – Mike

M – 2 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 5 / E – 8

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Finish:  5

My whole tongue tingles with the initial impact of carbonation, and the same can be said as I swallow.  The dryness stands out with a strong clove presence on the finish.  There’s a hint of pumpkin on the exhale though, but it’s minimal. – Rick

Very nice but subtle build on the palate – the vanilla notes hang around as well as a bit of maltiness. – Erich

Clean finish with a hint of sweetness on the mostly dry ale.  Pumpkin is present and lingers for moment or two on the palate. – Tim

Not to be harsh, but I can’t wait to wash this out of my mouth. All of what might be considered redeeming vanishes quickly, and what’s left is acrid and harsh to the point of, to quote Ralph Wiggum, “tastes like burning”. – Mike

M – 1 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 4.5 / E – 6

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Flavor balance:  5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Pumpkin and spice intermingle successfully here, even as the pumpkin prevails.  I give them high marks on making both ends mingle and not battle. – Tim

I’m not really getting much pumpkin at all here. – Brittney

I’d say this ale was too spicy for myself.  A lack of sweetness seemed to be attributed to a heavy handed addition of cinnamon which overpowers any thought of pumpkins here. – Rick

M – 1 / T- 8 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5 / E – 7

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

There’s some very nice vanilla notes but the sweetness, like the spices, is well reined-in. – Erich

There’s a significant amount of dryness on the finish on this one which kills the lack of sweets. There’s just not enough sweetness in here to balance the dryness and dominant clove tastes. – Rick

M – 3.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 4 / E – 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Despite relatively high marks in the individual categories and a personal opinion that I would absolutely revisit this beer, I don’t know if I would go more than one in a sitting.  There a lot of complex flavors going on here that I feel would begin to wear on the palate over time.  Even now, I still taste the enduring traces of smoke on my tongue.  – Tim

I don’t intend to finish this one. – Mike

With its peers opting for sweeter offerings, sometimes invoking the feeling of the stomach ache after eating too much Halloween candy, the Saranac really sets itself apart here.  But it also isn’t too bold either, so no fear of one’s tongue going numb.  Putting a few of these away shouldn’t be difficult. – Erich

This pumpkin ale is just isn’t sweet enough for me.  I’m really turned off by the bitterness from the spices and dryness of this beer. – Rick

M – 1 / T- 5.5 / B- 6 / R- 3 / E – 7

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Overall:  5.5

M – 3.25 / T- 6.67 / B- 6.25 / R- 5.25 / E – 6.08

Post Road Pumpkin Ale – Brooklyn Brewery

Here in the great state of Florida, we’re blessed with long stretches of impossibly straight roads, and epic thunderstorms. You can thank both (along with some awkward flashlight positioning, and a few weird-ed out neighbors) for the dramatic shot above. Likewise, since we’ve entered the month of September, the great seasonal beer boycott should be well in the clear (we’re no scabs, but lets be honest, there’s way too much ground here to cover without a head start). So please help keep our grand little blog here growing; word of mouth, and tenacious social media promotion (read: not quite spamming), are all we’ve got! And don’t forget that #pumpkinbeer hashtag, it just might get you re-tweeted.

Also of note, Brittney’s bio is live on the initial Meet The Press… post, so backtrack a bit to find out what she’s all about.

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Name: Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Brooklyn Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale, 5.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Throwing back to colonial America’s early days once more, Post Road favors barley and pumpkins for their spicy flavors, used hundreds of pounds at a time per batch, due historically to their plentiful nature as a harvest crop. A touch of Belgian biscuit malts also slides in to give a touch of idiosyncrasy.

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Packaging:

Classy and dynamic, in the keep it simple mentality. Two tone gray horizontal field with an almost hand drawn feel on the pumpkin, and particularly the “bird foot” style scratchings on the top band. Epic flourish on the “R” as well. – Mike

It’s sort of sad that the weakest part of this beer is the bottle it comes in.  Between the Bar Code, the Cash Refund and the Surgeon General’s Warning there is precious little room left for anything else.  All Post Road is offering is a simple header and a strategically centered orange and green pumpkin.  It’s hardly a standout bottle on a store shelf. – Tim

The label is kind of bland, but has a big pumpkin drawn in the center so it’s unmistakable.  The deep forest green background color is a nice difference compared to others though. – Rick

Classic to the point packaging, no messing around with witty names or graphics.  This label tells it like it is. – Brittney

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Color: 7

A bit more reddish / copperish with a hint of orange.  Had about a centimeter of head that settled down to a thin crown.  Gorgeous lacing. – Erich

Pours an attractive clear deep amber with a soft creamy head that lingers for a moment and leaves a few tell-tale laces in its wake. – Tim

Deep orange to the point of almost being a brown ale in appearance, almost like slightly overcooked pumpkin pie. – Mike

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

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Aroma: 7.5

I keep getting a waft of perfume as this one rests next to me (it’s not me, I promise). I almost smell as much floral as I do clove, allspice and nutmeg if not more, but this beer relies heavily on it’s aroma for much of its allure and with good cause. – Brittney

You can almost smell the sweetness of a fresh baked pumpkin pie perfume the air when pouring a pint.  Nutmeg, Clove, Allspice and even touches of Cumin come through here–as well as grassy notes of fresh pumpkin.  My mouth began to water before I even took the first sip. – Tim

A faint whiff of pumpkin and subdued spice – less cinnamon / clove and more nutmeg / cumin.  Pleasant but a bit too weak. – Erich

I’m really digging this beer’s aroma because it seems to capture all the right spice elements without being too bold or dominant on the nose. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 7 / E – 5

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Mouth feel: 5

Despite a full flavor, the substrate of this ale is a bit on the watery side. There is a touch of burn on the carbonation, and a good bit of fizziness. Overall though, note the most exciting aspect. – Mike

Medium bodied brew with enough carbonation to give you a bit of burn on the tongue right off the bat.  It begins to coat the mouth on second and third sips giving a comfortable overall feel to the beer. – Tim

Like its appearance, this beer feels light and bright in the mouth.  Initially the carbonation was pretty lively and a bit off-putting but quickly settled out to allow the taste to be enjoyed. – Britt

M – 3.5 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 6.5 / E – 3

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Tasting notes: 6.5

A subtle sweetness is accompanied by a note of cinnamon, followed by a wave of bitterness that comes largely from the other spices (cumin, allspice) with just an inkling of hop bitterness buried underneath. – Erich

Pumpkin and bitter hops take the forefront with this brew. There’s a pleasant presence of nutmeg and clove in the mix, but it’s fairly subdued. To it’s credit, there’s definitely the workings of the ale here, and an almost maple sweetness that offsets the hops nicely. – Mike

This beer smelled so good, I was actually equal parts excited and apprehensive to drink it.  It’s not completely, 100%, overwhelmed by the spice but it’s right there front and center filling your nose with so much flavor that I sort of felt like I wanted to chew the beer instead of drink it.  However, despite the spice, it should be noted that Post Road has a fair share of malty caramels but it’s not as overly sweet as my initial ‘pumpkin pie dreams’ had lead me to believe.  – Tim

M – 6.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8 / E – 4

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Finish: 6

It’s not often that I find a pumpkin beer refreshing but this one holds it’s own.  It’s subtle yet satisfying.  Neither the pumpkin nor the spice is battling for top billing; they both compliment the ale creating a well-balanced drinking experience. That being said, it does leave my mouth watering and wanting more. – Britt

Aside from the spice profile, the finish is too clean.  Spice bitterness lingers on the tongue which could be pleasant, but isn’t complex or interesting enough to be so. – Erich

After the initial bitterness of the hops upon first taste, the sweet spices seem to really come alive in the exhale after the swallow.  I’m not left with that sticky mouth feel that has been so common in other pumpkin ales from over sweetening.  Smooth and easy to drink, I’m finding Post Road’s Pumpkin Ale to be one of my favorites so far. – Rick

The bitterness lingers a good long time on the finish, blending heavily with the brilliance of allspice, and more than a pinch of nutmeg. While it might scare off a novice drinker, I found that the interplay of these aspects gave Post a rollicking edginess and a lot of character. This dog definitely have some bite. – Mike

M – 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 7.5 / E – 3

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Flavor balance: 6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

As I drank, I definitely found the spices to build in an additive manner, but I enjoyed that the pumpkin approach to this seems to focus more on the vegetal dryness of fresh pumpkin, rather than sweet pie, which allows the pumpkin to linger, rather than compete for dominance. – Mike

The fresh pumpkin is there.  It’s in the nose and it’s in the body, and that makes Post Road better than most other offerings that seem to be bottling little more than liquid pumpkin pie extract. – Tim

The pumpkin makes an appearance in the aroma but is absent in the tasting.  Spices dominate and that’s unfortunate. – Erich

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7 / E – 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

For me, this is just about the perfect amount caramel maltiness and sweetness coupled with those bitter hops and dry finish. – Tim

I like the dryness of this beer very much.  It’s not overpowering, or too dry, so at the same time I can still enjoy the sweetness. – Rick

No bones about it, this is a dry beer. Which isn’t a bad quality per se, and certainly sets it apart from many of the others I’ve had. But if we’re seeking balance, it’s heavily skewed in one direction, which I’ve gotta knock some points for. – Mike

M – 3 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5 / E – 5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Subtle enough to not exhaust the taste buds, I could drink two or three of these before moving on. – Britt

One of the biggest surprises this beer gave me was that at 5% ABV it feels (read: tastes) like it’s a lot stronger.  I think that perception in concert with prominent spice factor would wear on your palate pretty quickly.  – Time

Maybe it’s the lightness on the palate, or maybe I’m just a bitter man, but I found a pint went down easy as pie, and the dry aspect of this beer definitely plays at keeping you eager for the moisture of another glass on the tongue. – Mike

M – 9 / T- 4 / B- 8 / R- 7.5 / E – 5

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Overall: 6.42

M – 6.50 / T- 6.92 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.08 / E – 4.33

 

*Editors Note* (added 9/16/2011): We had a chance to chat with Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garret Oliver about Post Road, and he was kind enough to pass on a bit of interesting information on this beloved brew. Here’s what he had to say:

“The story of this beer is rather long and complicated, but I will try to distill it for you. Back in the 1990s, The Brooklyn Brewery bought a small New England beer brand called Post Road. Post Road produced several beers – a pale ale, an IPA, a strong winter beer. The beers were milder than Brooklyn’s beers, and we felt that the New England beer scene, which was underdeveloped, might appreciate these beers more than the more flavorful Brooklyn beers. After we bought the brand, we developed only one new beer – Post Road Pumpkin Ale. I can still remember the first time I brewed it, because I had to open over 100 5-lb cans of pumpkin puree with a small electric can opener!

To make this long story short, we were wrong about New Englanders; they liked Brooklyn beers better than Post Road beers and the Post Road venture eventually disappeared, except for one wildly popular beer – Post Road Pumpkin Ale. This left a conundrum – completely re-brand the beer as “Brooklyn”, probably confusing the consumer, or leave Post Road Pumpkin Ale as a stand-alone beer. The beer remains so popular that we’ve decided, for now, to leave it as is, even though the branding is vaguely confusing. It seems that no one minds but us.

The beer is made as many were during the colonial period – with large amounts of cooked pumpkin added to the mash. The enzymes in the malt break down the starch in the pumpkin into sugars, which are then fermented along with the malt sugars. The orangey color of the beer comes partly from the carotene naturally contained in the pumpkins. It’s a uniquely American beer style, and I think one thing that makes ours particularly well-regarded is that it isn’t very sweet, and it tastes like a beer rather than an overwhelmingly spiced pumpkin pie. And yes, it is great with the Thanksgiving turkey.”