Posts tagged ‘organic’

Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac Scaled Edit

 

One of the styles we don’t see to often in the pumpkin category is the elusive, and often divisive, sour ale. Leave it to the good folks at Almanac Beer Co to follow up last years (and coincidentally one of our highest ranking beers to date) Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine with a new entry, Dark Pumpkin Sour. Though they share the same humble roots, gorgeous artwork, and barrel times, they couldn’t stylistically be any further apart! So, if you can find one, crack it open and compare notes with us, and if you can’t, you’re probably going to want to find one – so keep trying!

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Name: Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Sam Jose, CA / Almanac Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Dark Pumpkin Sour / 7.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Designed as a counterpoint to the sweet and savory items on a fall dinner table, Dark Pumpkin Sour is brewed with caramelized organic heirloom pumpkins from Bodega Bay, pie spices, and then aged in used red wine barrels for a year.

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Packaging:

Almanac should probably win the award for the most classically inspired bottling each year, with their wood carved motifs and calligraphic logo they inspire an old world appeal that really carries the legacy of colonial pumpkin ales into the new millennium. – Tim

There isn’t a lot more to say about Almanac’s design than it is simply a work of art. I would seriously hang both their iconic woodcut tree logo and the hop bine entwined “Farm to Barrel” designs on my wall proudly. They must really like it too because there isn’t a whole lot differentiating this from their other Pumpkin Barleywine offering appearance wise. A quick color change from orange to deep turquoise on the inch wide bottom label is the only major difference. But then, why fix what ain’t broke?

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Color: 7.5

Rich, deep mahogany and plum with glinting copper highlights where the light happens to pierce the shadows, and a tan head that fights to stick around. Murky like a bog. – Brittney

This sour ale pours a fluffy light brown head that billows over an opaque body. Root beer brown with some earthy tones. Looks quite impressive. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Aroma: 7.5

Pronounced Brettanomyces barnyard funk, cereal grains, pinot noir grapes, and dark fruits, meet a smatter of perfumed wood and slight porter-y roast. – Mike

This definitely has a great barrel aged nose to it, imparting some nice woody elements amongst a musty roasted character. Red wine is another bold aroma that starts sour, but has an enticing sweetness to it, and I can’t wait to try this beer. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Mouth feel: 7.5

A study in contradiction, the dark voluptuous body belies a crisp highly acidic sour ale, that explodes on the tongue causing your taste buds to detonate with the shock of an atomic warhead. – Tim

Instant pucker on the first sip. It’s like a barrage on the senses, but it’s a light sour tartness that envelopes the tongue while a wisp of sweetness tickles it. Interestingly, the medium body contains a full flavored punch that’s easy to drink. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Intense citric acidity with pepper, wood, and a zesty spice on the fringes. As it warms dry, dark wine qualities appear alongside notes of pine, vegetal summer squash, and touches of caramel and cinnamon. – Mike

Crisp and bright, the pumpkin is tamed and even lost a bit in the bright lemon pucker notes. As a complement to a thick, rich pumpkin pie with a dense homemade whipped cream this ale would cut right though the gluttony and refresh your palate between each bite. Hint of allspice carries the ale slightly into the holiday season, but as a drink designed to complement a dessert rather than replicate, it gets high marks for contrasting tendencies. – Tim

There are moments where the pumpkin is fighting to show through, but for the most part all I’m tasting is sour. As it warms the spices begin to appear along side roasted pumpkin seed and wood and I can see why they recommend having this with pie. It needs the savory sweetness as an accompaniment. – Brittney

It’s like a sweet and sour pumpkin with a light watery red wine swirl. Great compliments, but is very atypical for a pumpkin offering. As it warms towards room temperature, the beer mellows and I’m starting to discover more elements of sweet cinnamon within the oaken melange. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9

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Finish: 8

The finish is really were you get most of the flavor. The acidity begins to withdraw and pumpkin really comes through, almost as an afterthought. Roast and touches of caramel qualities as well as some woody vanilla. – Brittney

Blade mace and resinous cedar wood give way to a long, long, tart decay that settles out with echoes of the fork full of pumpkin pie that I never actually ate. Why, oh why do you elude me you devious phantom pastry? – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

While the pumpkin takes a backseat to the sour’s peacock levels of non-subtlety, the notes on the nose and the color imparted in the ale are not to be missed. The spice on display is mainly a function of the wine barrel aging and as such adds tremendous depth to proceedings. – Tim

The pumpkin here is less of a defined quality than it is a referential. This brew begs to be set alongside your dessert course at Thanksgiving, and the spice is far more, but still subtly, notable. – Mike

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

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Tart, dry, and definitively sour. How dry and sour? The balance to the cabernet-sour is roast and wood. Sucka’s dryyy. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

This is a fantastic and complex sour. I only wish there was more to get better acquainted with. – Rick

Cutting though a turkey weighted, gravy laden and desert friendly feast, this ale would do well at your next family gathering. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.67

M- 9.00 / T- 7.67 / B- 5.92 / R- 8.08

The Great Pumpkin Ale – Cambridge Brewing Company

CBC GreatPumpkin

Founded in 1989, Cambridge Brewing Co. is the oldest operating brew pub in Boston and touts the prestige of being one of the nation’s first. With a firm focus on creativity and responsibility, they admirably support the mission of local, organic, and sustainable food and ingredients, stringent green practices in the workplace, and represent the american heritage, of course, of brewing the pumpkin ales our forefathers introduced.

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Name: The Great Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Cambridge, Massachusetts / The Cambridge Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 4.4%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Brewed with over 150 lbs of fresh, organically grown sugar pumpkins in each batch as well as organic barley, The Great Pumpkin Ale proudly works along side the fine folks a Farmschool.org, Wilson Farms, and Valley Malt to promote local, organic, and sustainable farming. It also features a mingling of classic pie spices.

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Packaging:

With nice subdued hues framing a cartoonish illustration, this label evokes long lost childhood memories with it’s stylized art. Subtle design work, but very clearly promotes a pumpkin beer. – Rick

With a distinct craft vibe label and smashed pumpkin etching CBC claims this unfiltered ale is New England’s very first pumpkin brew. It’s not the most striking label I’ve ever seen, but the striped turquoise backdrop will no doubt help it stand out on crowded store shelves this season. – Tim

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Color: 5.5

Yeasty autumn leave hues of yellow and red. There is a nice fizzy updraft from the edges of the glass, but the rest you can barely see through. Definitely unfiltered. – Mike

I enjoy the unfiltered cloudiness of this pumpkin ale. What I’m not totally digging is the copper tinge to the light bodied appearance. A frothy head caps the subtle amber glow that emanates from within. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 4.5

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Aroma: 6

Most pumpkin beers smell of spice and then maybe if you are lucky you get pumpkin. This one smells of pumpkin right off the nose to me, followed by cinnamon and clove with a finish that hints slightly of floral and grain. – Brittney

Peppercorns, mace, and burt pie crust, with a touch of vanilla. Earthy hop presence leaves the nose bitter and is reminiscent of the dry cool air in an Appalachian fall. Unique. – Mike

M – 6 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Mouth feel: 5

Medium bodied and smooth with an inkling of carbonation burn on the tip of my tongue. – Tim

Smooth, easy to drink, light to medium bodied beer, with a good bit of crisp on the tongue from a moderate amount of carbonation. – Brittney

M – 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 5.5

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Tasting notes: 5

The pie crust notes come back into play here making up most of the malt profile, along with bittersweet molasses and burnt sugar. The spicing imparts a drying quality, and reinforce a sense of chimney smoke on autumnal days. – Mike

Mellow roasted pumpkin sweetness gives way to bitter burnt sugar notes enveloped in a malty cascade of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and yeasty bread. – Tim

The pumpkin found in the aroma stays true just a bit at the taste. More so, the spice takes over and is followed by a quite malty brew. All of these elements seem to be very individualized and mellow out in follow through of flavor. – Brittney

This ale is a tad dry with some bitter pumpkin elements. It almost seems too vegetal with some definite earthy elements playing a role. I can only imagine the pumpkins were harvested too soon, that’s the impression I’m left with. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 4

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Finish: 5

Long and bitter on the close with the distinct pumpkin character carrying the ale on for a solid minute. It’s worth noting that it’s a surprising and pleasant rarity to find a pumpkin ale which actually finishes with pumpkin. – Tim

I think the finish is where the seemingly immature nature of the pumpkins plays a big part. It makes the beer finish dry and tops it all off with a hot spicing of cinnamon. – Rick

M – 4.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 3.5

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Flavor balance: 4

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

This is intriguing, in that, pumpkin plays little part of the ale for me, where instead spice and malt dominate and make the overall impression quite aggressive. It toys with being sweet briefly, but the spice ends up bitter and burning. – Mike

It’s over spiced, adding to the dryness which is already at peak levels for me. This approach to spicing is also giving a false impression of the ABV making it seem higher than it actually is. – Rick

M – 3 / T- 5.5 / B- 6 / R- 2.5

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 4

The heavy dry spicing here does me in. Usually burnt pie crust needs beer and whip cream to wash it down. This beer needs another beer to do the trick. – Mike

A sour pumpkin flavor finishes super dry and astringent. Apart from the initial sip, it’s lacking in any appealing sweetness. – Rick

M – 2 / T- 5.5 / B- 5 / R- 3

  • Multiple Drinkability? 3.5

This is a fairly solid ale with nothing too offensive. However, it also fails to be particularly magical in any way. I might have one or two if nothing else was offered, but no more. – Brittney

A solid entry into the pumpkin beer category, but with no distinctive features, I feel like the primary disappointment in this ale is that being one of the older entries in the field, CBC seems content to make a good, tow-the-line ale, which is lacking the innovation that has taken place in the last few years with gourd-based brews. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine pumpkin ale, but I think a session of them would bore me. – Tim

M – 2 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 1.5

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Overall: 5.08

M – 4.58 / T- 6.16 / B- 5.25 / R- 4.25