Posts tagged ‘restaurants’

Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project) – Paradox Beer Co.

Paradox2

This sentence is false. Be cruel to be kind. Deep down, you are really shallow. The beginning of the end. There are a lot of great paradoxes floating around, and we feel the good ones really make you think. By that standard, this offering is a pretty great paradox. The one by which this company gears their projects is particularly inspiring to those of us with a taste for craft brews: Modern brewing processes collide, headlong, into ancient beer. Intrigued? Well read on intrepid reader. As these brewers are want to tell you, “ Beer is Alchemy sprinkled with Paradigm, dashed on the hopes of Artistic Grandeur”.

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Name: Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Woodland Park, CO / Paradox Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale / 6.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Pepitas Grande is a dark beer brewed with pumpkins, roasted pepitas, Chimayo red chili, and a hint of cocoa. After brewing it is aged in oak red wine barrels.

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Packaging:

Nice and professional looking design. I like the touch of info graphics on the sides to help point out certain characteristics like hop level and ABV. It would be hard to tell that this is a pumpkin beer on the shelf, but then again I believe people who seek this beer out know exactly what they are looking for. – Rick

Nothing about this bottle screams “pumpkin ale”, but none the less, it appeals to the occult philosopher and mystery seeker in me. Can we give points for enigmatically spooky? – Mike

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Color: 8

Rich espresso colored and murky with a good bit of sticky lacing but not much of a head. The stagnant sediment floating could be a bit unnerving to some but we are just going to go with it. – Brittney

Murky with Garnet and Burnt Sienna tones and a brilliant cream head so thick and dense it looks like you could bounce a quarter off it—with a constant dance of carbonation bubbles that would put a Bubsy Berkeley musical to shame. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Aroma: 8

Sacred Chimayo earth, obsequious tannins, and a bit of chili heat. There is a nice presence of roast pumpkin as well. – Mike

It reminds me of December for some reason. I’m picking up a slightly sweet alcohol element that is balanced with a roasty espresso and complimentary malts. A hint of chili and perhaps toasted seeds help round out the earthy qualities that are apparent here. – Rick

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7

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Mouth feel: 7.5

Thick and smooth, with a milkshake richness. This is a full bodied ale, that despite the massive carbonation action is as smooth as a newborn baby.- Tim

There is a gentle tingle from the carbonation, which is slightly intensified by the chili spice. It’s not nearly as thick as I had expected but is on the thick end of medium bodied. – Brittney

M – 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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Tasting notes: 8

This isn’t your typical pumpkin ale, and I say that with a very happy lilt applied. This is complexity and grace. The wine barrel adds heavily to its presence and richness, vegetal and earthy notes shine from the competing pumpkin, and the heat is a kiss upon the brow. Both nuanced and epic, this is pumpkin beer done Dios De Los Muertos style. Well deserving of its name. – Mike

Roasted pumpkin and dark fruit notes are enveloped in a brandy-like complexity with the heat of the chilies screaming through on the close. Red wine with notes of oak, and white pepper. I like the idea of a paradoxical beer, it is both a pumpkin beer and it is not a pumpkin beer, It is a chili beer, but it is not a chili beer. It celebrates both the season and the idea of the harvest, yet it turns it expectations on its ear by eliminating all the trappings that would make it a seasonal beer. – Tim

This beer is every bit of what it says it is. It seems that when a bottle has a laundry list of what it is claiming to offer you are always missing one or two key ingredients and most of the time those are the ones that made you pick the beer in the first place. That is not the case for this beer. This beer never claims to taste like pumpkin pie or pie spices. It does however taste of roasted pepitas and Chimayo red chili without completely overshadowing pumpkin and cocoa. – Brittney

I really enjoy this beer, but the pumpkin is very subtle, instead focusing more on the roasted earthy qualities. I love the espresso roasted malts that are finished off with a fine hot chile heat. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 6

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Finish: 8

The finish is subtler than I would expect considering most beers with any sort of spice stick with you. In my opinion it is a welcome reprieve. I love that you can enjoy the intense chili throughout the beer but not have it wreck your pallet for the rest of the night. – Brittney

The finish is long and full of currant flavors and chili heat, the back of my throat tingles in a pleasant manner which makes me long for another sip, but in true paradoxical fashion relief cannot be found in another helping of the ale, only more flavor and more heat. Yet, I continue to drink it. – Tim

M – 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance: 8

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

This is not your pumpkin pie party beer. This sucker is a meandering peyote soaked vision quest. You could spend hours finding new details in the elaborate nexus of intermingling flavors. The gourd is the ground in which we plant the seeds of a damn fine beer. – Mike

First we have to consider that we are comparing pumpkin seeds and chili, not pie spices. The only way that they can balance and they do balance is the roast of the seeds and the heat of the chili. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

It has a nice sweetness to it that doesn’t feel like it’s forced by any abundance of traditional spicing. I also really enjoy the heat and spice from the addition of chile on the finish to really round out this brew. – Rick

If I were drinking this in a parched desert landscape surrounded by a thousand cacti, this still wouldn’t be dry. But, it would still be brilliant. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

Here is your paradox. How does one drink an increasingly hot chili beer as a session ale? (You don’t. There are only 1100 bottles.) – Mike

This is a good oak barreled beer that takes a unique stance on the pumpkin paradigm. Well worth multiple trips into the spicy territory of Pepitas Grande. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 8.5 / R- 8

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Overall: 7.92

M – 8.25 / T- 8.25 / B- 7.67 / R- 7.08

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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

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

Blight Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing Company

Blight_02

THE END IS BEER! Okay, so you’re probably already getting over the whole 2012 thing already, but there’s more than one end in sight. This is our last review of the season, since it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to acquire pumpkin ale at this point. Fear not though, as we already have a fridge full of stuff to start reviewing for next year, and we will be back strong, digging deep into the plethora of craft ales available in the gourd category. For now though, we celebrate the end of the recorded Mayan Calendar with a decidedly Biblical scenario – Elysian’s 9th Beer of the Apocalypse: Blight. Happy Holidays and a fruitful New Year to all of our loyal readership, whatever you may celebrate, and don’t forget to tune in for the 2012 rankings update coming soon!

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Name:  Blight Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Washington, USA / Elysian Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 7.4%

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.

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Packaging:

This is a phenomenally cool label with cult comic artist’ Charles Burns art work driving the overall vibe of the ale.  It’s stark and creepy – lets call it fan-boy beer! – Tim

This label has some awesome artwork on it. Monotone colors with a woodblock look, it really fits the theme of apocalyptic brews. – Rick

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Color:  7.5

Cinnamon brown with a good bit of particulate. Yeah, there’s so much cinnamon in this thing that you can see it floating. Very mellow carbonation and a flash quick foamy head. – Mike

Copper penny hues with a nice amber glow, this ale presents a nice traditional coloration. Fine bits of sediment are floating around adding to the allure. A fine minimal head is left, with fantastic lacing following all the way down. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8.5

Sweet, sweet Saigon cinnamon that brings a buttery brown sugar note, in and of itself, with a solid malt moment and a kick of spice at the end. – Brittney

This smells like Cinnamon Toast Crunch right down to the sugary depths, the bowling over of cinnamon, and a ton of cereal grains. Please pass the milk. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  8

Mid-bodied with a nice soft carbonation–sweet and even a little spicy on the tongue. – Tim

Not too snappy, but clean with only a little carbonation and medium body. Very delicate considering the other aspects of this beer, which is probably the primary reason why it works. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8

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. – Mike

Bold with a cinnamon bittering, like an atomic fireball bathed in a vat of brown sugar and butter.  It’s bready and fruity like a hot apple blossom, some touches of clove present, but the rest of the traditional pie spices are either lost, or irrelevant.  The cinnamon is so prominent that it really strains credulity to call this anything other than cinnamon beer.  But, it’s damn good cinnamon beer. – Tim

If you focus on the complete flavor you can taste the pumpkin through the intense cinnamon. However, the cinnamon is what most will taste as the dominant flavor in this beer. “This particular cinnamon known as Saigon Cinnamon, from North Vietnam is less tannic than varieties commonly used in commercial preparations. A high percentage of cinnamon oil in the bark imparts a lush, spicy aroma and an intense cinnamon flavor that pairs perfectly with sugar crystals atop crisp, fluffy popcorn, as comforting as cinnamon toast and as satisfying as a sugar-speckled doughnut.”  If you want to check out the popcorn version of this beer head over to 479 popcorn.com for a treat! – Brittney

Our pumpkin is more implied and overshadowed by the spices here. It’s a great sweet dessert of a beer though, hinting at a cinnamon toast like flavor with a brown sugar backing. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

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Finish:  7.5

There is a wicked tingle you get in the back of the throat as this ale cascades across your tongue and down toward the belly.  Not surprising–it finishes dry, but not parching.  Some astringency and woody notes of bark, which build the longer you consume the ale, but fade rather smoothly after a few minutes away from the pint glass. – Tim

Sometimes you have to taste something that almost goes overboard with a spice to truly appreciate what that spice tastes like and once you do you never forget it. Milky and drying Cinnamon, with a good bit of the malt presence showing on the end. – Brittney

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

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Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5.5

There is pumpkin here, and it’s the only other thing in this beer. Clearly, you were meant to bleed cinnamon into the mouths of your zombie overlords. This is post-apocalyptic marinade. – Mike

Pumpkin is overwhelmed by the sweet and delicious spicing. It’s good, just not balanced very well. – Rick

M- 4.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 4

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

The sweetness present in the nose and body don’t translate to the ales finish where the spice shuts down what could have been cloying and shifts the balance needle back to even keel. – Tim

Brown sugar and cinnamon dominate the palate making this ale abundantly sweet. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 4.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7

This beer is more on the sweet side which is normally a deal breaker for me but I really enjoy it. At first the intensity of the cinnamon would have made me shy away from anymore than one glass but it really mellows out with the pumpkin and malt and I would gladly have another. – Brittney

One of these would probably be enough for a lifetime (which is likely all you will get anyway considering that this is a one time brew). I love it, but drinking two would probably make you shrivel up and die, leaving only your kissable fresh corpse for future generation of Dr. Zaius to extrapolate upon our primitive nature. Damn dirty apes. – Mike

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

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Overall:  7.67

M- 7.92 / T- 8.17 / B- 7.58 / R- 6.67

blight end

BJ’s Pumpkin Ale – BJ’s Brewhouse (St. Arnold)

The 2011 Silver Award winner at The Great American Beer Fest, this beer is one of BJ’s heavy hitters. Available in numerous states around the country, they have attempted to take the craft brew format and apply it to a user friendly restaurant chain. That type of thing always yields some mixed reactions, but we have to say – The food is good, the beers are solid, and the atmosphere is nice. It may not be your favorite corner dive, but it’s a great place for noobs to familiarize themselves with accurate representations of a number of beer styles, and still good enough to satisfy a more demanding palate. In our opinion, BJ’s passes the torch rather nicely, and isn’t inducting your friends into the craft beer gospel what it’s all about?

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Name:  BJ’s Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Texas, USA / BJ’s Brewhouse (St. Arnold Contract Brew)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 4.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed with “an abundance of spices” to recreate “Pumpkin Pie in a glass”, the details are scant on the origins of BJ’s brew.

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Packaging: This one is tap only.

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Color:  7

Sparkling, crystalline, and as bright copper as a freshly minted penny, topped with a head of the same width that’s bleach white. – Mike

The brew masters at BJ’s sure did a swell job of producing a great commercially appealing pumpkin ale, and I don’t mean that in a bad way either. The beer looks like a light lager with heavy carbonation and a great copper color. Very appealing for a random patron of the bar. It’s pretty transparent and the delicious looking head disappears quickly leaving scant trace. – Rick

M-  8/ T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 7

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Aroma:  6

Huge pumpkin depth with a ton of sweetness and spice, mostly the usual nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. This aroma is the definition of pumpkin pie in a bottle. – Brittney

Gobs of cinnamon and nutmeg w a light undertone of clove round out our spice profile, along with brown sugar pumpkin, and a hint of oats. Quite fragrant, even if it is served a bit cold. I don’t get much on the malt profile though. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  7

Mid-bodied with a medium carbonation.  The ale is very cold and that adds a crispness to it that bodes well for food parings. – Tim

Medium to light bodied; crisp and sweet without too much syrupiness.  Served this cold it really snaps in your mouth. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  7.5

Vast cinnamon and hulking nutmeg pulverize their way through a cool whip foam party to an all night pumpkin puree rave. It’s good for the same things that make house music bad. It’s loud, simple, and pervasive. – Mike

Creamy with nice notes of pumpkin, the spices seem trapped in a suspended state of animation due to the fact that the ale is far to cold. After a few minutes of rest the beer produces subtle cinnamon, clove, allspice, and ginger profiles.  An inherent malty sweetness comes into play as well adding to a satisfying crusty pie vibe. – Tim

This year’s pumpkin ale didn’t really vary far from what I remember from last year. Apparently, it was an award winner last year so I’m sure they approached it with a “why fix what’s not broken mentality”. It is a very traditional pumpkin ale with just enough pumpkin, and just enough pumpkin pie spice. Not to light, not too heavy.  It’s good because you can’t really place what’s bad.  I just happen to be a sucker for this sort of brew every now and again. Sometimes moderation is the key. – Brittney

For how light in appearance and aroma it is, I’m actually surprised at how good this pumpkin beer is. The best part is the sweet pumpkin pie taste with hints of a nice buttery crust. There’s a good bit of cinnamon as well, with a nice light hoppy finish. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Finish:  7

This beer is close to being too cloying with sweetness, but the subtle hoppy aftertaste helps control the finish. It’s clean with a nice bitter exhale to recharge the palette. – Rick

The finish is pretty low key and short.  The crusty pie notes and abundance of cinnamon that carry on to the back end actually give me sensations of apple–not pumpkin–pie. – Tim

M- 8 / T- 5.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance:  7

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6.5

As with most touting the pumpkin pie in a bottle style, this one is slightly leaning towards the spice end of things. – Brittney

Cinnamon seems to lead the pack in dominant spices, with nutmeg there to calm it down a little. It does have a sweet gourdiness about it though. – Rick

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

Sweet, but not cloying or sugary, with some richness and only hints of dryness from the cinnamon spice. You might call that balanced. – Tim

As it warms the spice becomes a bit more drying, all in all though, this beer is quite even tempered. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 5.5 / B- 6 / R- 7

–         Multiple Drinkability?  8

Far too easy to drink, this ale sits firmly between pleasantly interesting and light enough to consume more than a few. – Mike

To be certain, this is designed as a session beer.  It’s not overly complicated so as to compete with the food at BJs.  It’s not high in ABV.  It’s clean and smooth.  I could drink more of these. – Tim

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

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Overall:  6.92

M- 7.58 / T- 6.17 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.00

Quick Hits – Duclaw 31, The Big Bam Boo, Autumn Maple, & Grateful Pumpkin

Ok, like you probably did as well, we stayed up way too late last night. Combine that with the perhaps-not-fully-realized-to-our-fans difficulty of getting all our reviewers to the same place, with the right beers, before they run out, etc,  so we decided to do an interesting offbeat post today. Our blog has seen marriages, moves, reviewers come and go, and the everyday challenges of work, kids, and functioning. It’s hard to review a beer when you’re so sick you can’t taste it, and the bottom line is we just can’t always make it to the source in time, or occasionally receive a brew that’s not quite actually “pumpkin”. So for what it’ worth, here are some notable quick hit reviews of the honorable mentions of autumn that don’t quite fit the bill, or won’t be around again to cover next year.

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Name:  Duclaw 31

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maryland, USA / Duclaw Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Spiced Munich Dunkel / 5.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Munich, Cara Aroma, and wheat malts join with Golding hops, cinnamon, and nutmeg to make a refreshing medium bodied fest-style brew with a bit of the classic pumpkin ale zesty pie finish. It’s a great, easy drinking compromise for the German-American party conflict that inevitably goes full steam in the drinker’s world around October 31st of each year.

You can’t win ‘em all. Special props go to our provider’s who shipped his package to us twice, only to have all but 2 scant bottles broken in the mail. Even more so, since last years batch was, in fact, a pumpkin ale. We were just unaware of the tradition of changing the recipe. Our bad. Check them out anyway, we know you need a break from pumpkin beer by now, but can’t escape the sweet, sweet allure of nutmeg… right?

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Name:  The Big Bam Boo

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Dunedin Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Pale Ale / 6.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  An aroma of sweet honey, biscuit malt, and vegetal goodness pour off this glass, and pronounced Centennial, Delta, and Nelson Sauvin hops round out this distinctive pale ale. Easy to drink, and complex enough to impress. Add that ours was rested on Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (which imparted an amazing nutty finish), and you’ve got the trappings of an awesome pumpkin brew from Florida’s oldest brewery. No spice needed.

Our problem? Crossed wires. A friend was nice enough to go in search of a growler for us, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we got delayed in meeting up, the beer was not going to last long, and we wouldn’t be able to meet before it’s shelf life ran out. Also, I might have totally not realized that this was supposed to be a pumpkin ale from the name, and drank it thinking we got a consolation prize. That’s why text messages are a bad form of communication. Oops.

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Name:  Autumn Maple

Place of Origin / Brewer: California, USA / The Bruery

Beer style / ABV%:  Belgian Brown Ale / 10%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  I’m sure by now we’re all well acquainted with the fantastic and unique beverages produced by The Bruery. We’ve covered their collaboration pumpkin  La Citrueille Celeste de Citricado, and we’ve personally consumed more than a few of their offerings. Sometimes though, being unique means getting singles out, and in fact, it’s stated right on the label. Autumn Maple offers a twist on the traditional spiced pumpkin ale, but subs in 17 lbs of yams per cask, along with all the classic spices, molasses, maple syrup, and a Belgian yeast strain. It’s bold, spicy, and makes a great meal finisher (I had mine with an early mock Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a damn near perfect match). This is the great southern sweet potato casserole of beers, and it would have undoubtedly rated highly on our review scale. Our problem? No pumpkin. Simple as that.
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Name:  Grateful Pumpkin Ale (Violator Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Orlando Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  The first of Orlando Brewing’s Violator Series ( all other beers they produce are in accord with the German purity law of 1516), this certified 100% organic ale was flavored with heaps of roast pumpkin, ginger, and nutmeg. Dark molasses notes, intermingled with smoke and roasted pumpkin seed notes, leaning this experiment to a dry, dominantly spicy profile, that would appeal to those who enjoy a parching intensely flavored ale, but might lean a little too intensive for those seeking a more approachable classic ale. Our problem? We just simply couldn’t all get there in time to review it, and didn’t feel it was fair to weigh in on a rating without a balanced call from our crew. Hopefully next year we’ll get a better picture, or at least a new ale to try.

Drunkin’ Pumpkin – Fort George Brewery

Well, that’s that. We’ve moved past the slew of  this year’s spooky pumpkin ales, and we’re done for the season. It’s officially XMAS, and we need to inundate our heads with the 30,000 horrendous pop covers of classic carols…Wait. What’s that? We have multiple boxes of pumpkin ale left to review? And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet?

Ok, ok, it looks like we’ve got more work to do and more abuse for our livers ahead, so you can pick that perfect pairing for burning your house down with a turkey fryer and collecting the insurance money. Check out today’s look at Fort George Brewery, where community matters.

P.S. Don’t forget to vote today.

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Name:  Drunkin’ Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Oregon, USA / Fort George Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This ale is brewed with organic wheat, munich, caramel, and 2-row honey malts, US challenger hops, lots of roasted whole fresh pumpkins, and sand filtered water. This beer is also completely un-spiced, as the brewer’s prefer to let the pumpkins speak for themselves.

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Packaging:  This one was only available to us on tap, though Fort George does have a number of awesome cans.

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Color:  8.5

This is a gorgeous ale with tons of motion, settling out like a famous Irish stout, and nicely reflecting it’s grains. Throw in an epic head and extreme lacing and this could easily be a pumpkin ale pin-up. – Mike

My first impression of this beer is the great opaque copper coloration and an agitated swirling of the body. This quickly settles and reveals an awesome head with some intense lacing. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  6.5

Refreshing and clean with a green hoppy nose and hints of bubblegum amidst the farm fresh vegetal pureness of newly harvested pumpkins. – Tim

This one has a good bit of a toasted pumpkin essence combined with nice harvest ale undertones. The aroma is smooth and calm; somehow I’m not disappointed by the lack of spice at all. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  6

It’s slightly watery, but with a medium body that feels like it’s a stronger beer than it actually is. There’s a nice hoppy presence that leaves a dry feel though, so there’s no sting. – Rick

Medium bodied but not syrupy, crisper than I was expecting for the initial feel, but a little more on the dense end. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  7

This is a great ale that expertly features it’s vast grain bill and still swings the fresh pumpkin right into the forefront. Definitely a cool option for those opposed to heavily spiced ales. – Mike

Lush with a pronounced vegetal feel.  As advertised, there are zero spices here which really lends an amazing and clear profile to this ale, letting every note of the pumpkin sing. Where in other beers it’s masked, faint, or just simply overpowered by spice, here the squash shines.  This reminds me of those stories of ales fermented right in the gourd and tapped straight out of the flesh. – Tim

There isn’t a ton of your typical pumpkin beer going on here but there wasn’t supposed to be. This one is a literal pumpkin beer; an autumn beer with an strong aftertaste of pumpkin, no spice about it. It’s nutty, malty, smooth, and delicious. – Brittney

Lacking traditional spices, we’re left with the pumpkin pulling all the weight which leaves a sour ale that’s barely sweet. With a hop profile that dominates the roasted malts, it’s tough not to miss some of that sweetness from cinnamon or nutmeg. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 4.5

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Finish:  6.5

An opulent wheat finish that’s moderately long with just a smattering of bitter hops. A first in my pumpkin ale travels. – Mike

Long, dry, floral, and hoppy, with a stark bitter astringency that is refreshingly different and, perhaps, a little problematic for drinker’s more accustomed to modern pie spice interpretations of pumpkin ale. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 4

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Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: ***

***Since this ale is completely un-spiced, we have opted to remove this category from the overall score.***

M- * / T- * / B- * / R- *

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 5.5

There’s a brief, but fantastic caramelized pumpkin jive that backs off into a dry and fairly hopped finish. Not exactly the great equalizer, but less polarizing than today’s election. – Mike

The sweet to dry balance is so far off center (read: Bone Dry) that it’s almost unfair to the categorize it.  I’m of the opinion that this beer is designed to be exactly what you don’t think a pumpkin beer is–but more precisely what a true, pure, untainted  pumpkin beer could be. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

I enjoy the lack of spice that a lot of pumpkin beers tend to lean on, but for this one I’d stick with one round. – Brittney

A decent flavor for a traditional style pumpkin ale. Without any sweet spices added, this is perfect if you’re looking for a change of pace. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 5

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Overall:  6.75

M- 7.92 / T- 7.25 / B- 6.67 / R- 5.17