Posts tagged ‘Sam’

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.


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!”



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.”



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


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.”



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


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


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


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


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


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


Top 5 Beers by Reviewer to Date:


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


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


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


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


Fat Jack Double Pumpkin (Batch 1) – Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

It’s no secret that Sam Adams is a controversial name in the craft beer movement. There’s a strong argument to be made for it’s role in starting people on something besides mass manufacture lagers, and to date, there’s certainly been one that it was just another big company producing quantity over quality. To their credit, Sam Adams seems to be making an attempt to embrace the craft beer revolution and embrace their heritage as “the alternative beer in the mainstream bar”.  With a number of  specialty releases coming out under the Brewmaster Collection, Barrel Room Collection, and other specialty and limited release series, they are certainly doing a solid job of using their resources to create something interesting, rather than just pushing their core product. We took a deep look at one of their most recent entries in that mentality, and were pleasantly surprised.


Name:  Fat Jack Double Pumpkin (Batch 1)

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Massachusetts, USA / Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company)

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

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.



I like the cool pen and ink doodle of a plump and happy gourd with human appendages. Its obese appearance, seemingly passed out from overindulgence, and vice-like grip on a spoon paints a morbid scene worthy of Grimm works. – Rick

Fat jack is not a pretty man. He’s a grizzled face, obsequious fellow who looks like he’d just as soon shank you with a spoon, as say hello. Did I mention he is wielding a spoon shank? You don’t want to cross a squash this gnarly. – Mike


Color:  8.5

This is a deep rustic ale, almost mahogany with a short half-finger head that leaves some minor lacing.  The head isn’t all that spectacular but the color is glorious. – Tim

My first thought is a heavy cream soda but this beer boasts a butter cream colored, dissipating head with a beautiful dark chestnut but luminous body. – Brittney

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


Aroma:  8

Smokey char-grilled pumpkin and pie crust with the spices in perfect poise. Nothing jumps out intensely, Fat Jack is the Biggie Smalls of pumpkin beer — he just plays it cool and lets the ladies roll up to him. – Mike

If I wasn’t reviewing this, I’d probably be at a loss for words.  There is a smoky richness to the head that reminds me of the only Sam Adams beer I really like (the Scotch Ale) but the smoke is even more pronounced here, and it blends together with a dark sweetness while dancing with spices of Cinnamon, Cumin and Allspice.  I’m actually entranced, as visions of pumpkin pie baking away in a wood burning oven make me feel all Pilgrimy inside. – Tim

Spice cake, pumpkin bread, yeast-y, pumpkin-y, spice-y buttery goodness. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 7


Mouth feel:  7.5

Incredibly easy to sip and a touch syrupy, it’s a light drink with a nice tingle on the lips. There’s a slight bite at the end giving the perfect finish to this smooth full bodied ale. – Rick

Smooth, luxurious, and thick, there’s just the right cut of bubble, and a full bodied weight that evades the trap of syrup. – Mike

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


Tasting notes:  8

Thick and sweet, but not syrupy, carrying big molasses flavors and roasted pumpkin notes that play off the spices in exceptional harmony.  It’s like bottling the most decadent, heart-attack inducing pumpkin pie directly into a bottle.  The smoke from the roasted malts is heavy but not overwhelming on the palate and the 8.5% ABV peeks it’s head around enough that the whole affair almost starts to develop an opulent Barley wine vibe to it.  If this is what Sam Adams has planned to counter the craft beer revolution, I’m willing to take more than a few midnight rides with them. – Tim

Bacon. That would be my first impression. Maple bacon? Chocolate-dipped bacon? Maybe, but we are talking about beer and even though it tastes as though the bacon has been battered in some sort of pumpkin breading and even though I love eating bacon, I just don’t see myself drinking a glass of it. – Brittney

This ale imparts a great smoky flavor that’s reminiscent of many cold evenings spent by the campfire.  The malts are the stars here. Good and sweet, they balance the roastiness and upon first sip I want to chew on this beer. It’s a meal in itself. – Rick

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. – Mike

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


Finish:  7

The smoke and hop bitterness here is the coup de gras, capping out and excellent mellow sweet ale, with a warm belly finish, that still leaves you burping up pumpkin instead of liquid smoke afterwards. – Mike

I like this brew for it’s amazing flavor, but also because of the great finish. It’s a smooth drink with a surprising spicy bite. – Rick

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


Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8

Cloaked by the other more intense notes the pumpkin and spice both peek through evenly. –Brittney

No spice is entirely dominant here with the exception of cinnamon maybe just a tad. Otherwise, they all balance each other well. The pumpkin is the hero here with the roasted malts contributing very nicely as well. – Rick

Roast pumpkin goodness is in exceptional harmony with the spices early on and throughout consumption.  The beer only falters a bit at the finish when the smoke takes precedent. – Tim

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

The sweetness is present in the first glimpse and then held in a choke hold as the other elements weigh in, before finishing with a dry smoke. Bravo. I applaud Sam Adam’s for bringing their resources together to create such a heavyweight contender. – Mike

It’s not overly sweet, and even exhibits dry notes, which match up well with the smoked goodness contained within.  To me it’s a very, very good mix, which others might find becomes a little too intense after a while.  But hey…I’d drink Rauchbier for breakfast. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7

It may have a higher ABV but I will try to drink as much of this as I can get my hands on. – Rick

There is a lot of flavor here so much that my palette could probably only stand just one. – Brittney

I know I’m going to get into trouble here because I want to drink this ale way faster than I should.  With the incredibly well masked 8.5% ABV, it’s dangerously delicious.  A formidable bottle size, I’d absolutely put away more than one if I could—and possibly even so many that passed out, with my face half in the candied yams, I would dream of  costumed kiddies collecting Halloween treats, while cartoon turkeys circled my sleepy head. – Tim

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


Overall:  7.75

M- 8.67 / T- 8.17 / B- 6.17 / R- 7.92

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale – The Boston Beer Company

Available only in the Sam Adams Harvest Collection pack, you’re going to have to commit to drinking a few beers to get to the two included of these included. Ironically, this made this one of the most expensive beers we’ve acquired yet. Then again if you’re going to a Halloween or Thanksgiving party, you might be very happy to see that someone has sprung for this assortment, and not the usual cheap ass beer.


Name:  Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Massachusetts, USA / The Boston Beer Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Amber Ale /  5.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Deep roasted two row pale and caramel 60 malts, as well as special B and smoked malts compliment 11 pounds of pumpkin per barrel, along with the usual suspects of pie spices.



Let’s face it gang.  Sam Adams is well branded and very colonial traditional and this rare pumpkin offering from the legendary Boston brew company is exactly what you’d expect with the traditional blue label offset with the contrasting tones of autumn orange.  – Tim

This definitely fits the standard Sam packaging style, which is tasteful if slightly boring. They’ve nicely altered the color scheme to a deep malty orange and true blue feel, but considering this should be one of the crowning items in their sought after harvest holiday pack, I would have liked to have seen it get a little bit of special treatment ala my favorite Sam one off from the Christmas package, “Old Fezziwig”.  – Mike


Color:  7

A true amber so dark it’s almost garnet, and a thick whip cream head that didn’t dissipate for a number of minutes hugging the sides for dear life all the way down the glass. – Mike

Pours a clean, ruby amber that looks just like a….well…a Sam Adams.  Capping it off is a pretty enormous 2-finger head that lasts for what feels like an eternity leaving a gorgeous tapestry of lacing in it’s wake. – Tim

M- 6.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7/ R- 5.5


Aroma:  6

Bold nutmeg right off the bat hints at a sweet bouquet, then transitions to smoky cloves.  All of that and a touch of citrus-like fruity notes that lead me to believe that this brew is more complex than first meets the eye.  – Rick

Bready malt sweetness with notes of roasted pumpkin and the standard mix of spices, but a touch of smoke lingers just long enough to pique my interest. – Tim

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


Mouth feel:  5

Medium carbonation with light to medium body. It’s creamy without being syrupy.  Not obtrusive but not overly unique either. – Brittney

About as true to the term medium – bodied as you can come. It’s respectably full without trying to push into European territory, and a nice reminder of why Sam Adam’s has been a staple gateway beer to the craft beer world. – Mike

It’s got that high carbonation that I’d expect from a mass produced American beer, too watery and innocuous to be really interesting with a slight burn from the bubbles. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 3


Tasting notes:  5.5

I like the basic mixture of spices in this brew.  It seems like there is a nice addition of brown sugar hiding under all that nutmeg and cinnamon, but just not enough to overshadow it’s lightness  Ultimately, the super light body is very disappointing. – Rick

There is no denying that this is a pumpkin beer done well.  But it seems like in order to create a really great pumpkin beer you’ve got to be willing to think outside the box.  What we have here is the Starbucks of pumpkin beers. – Brittney

I don’t generally go gaga over a Sam Adams and this one is no great exception.  Generations raised on Bud Light and Miller would probably be bowled over by any beer that didn’t adhere to those low standards and for me Sam is just one-upping a market that is competing at a Kindergarten level.  With that said, there’s some pumpkin in here and too much spice but most interestingly, there seems to be notes of Banana bread tossed into the mix. – Tim

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


Finish:  5

I really enjoyed how this beer had so much bite up front and how pleasantly it mellowed into a gently sweet confectionery feel.  A bit of nut and spice comes at the very tail, and I could see it nicely complimenting a thanksgiving turkey. – Mike

Leaves at the same level it enters, pleasant and drinkable, one that I would use as a buffer mid season but probably not one that I would seek out to impress. – Brittney

The finish is watery smooth with indications of a bite from the spices.  I find it to be slightly sour as well as smoky at the very end.  There seems to be something missing from this one. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 3 / B- 6.5 / R- 4


Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

The roast on the nose is more pumpkiny than the meat in the body, the spice mix is large but very one note.  So, the brew favors the spice even though the spice is dull…that just speaks of fail in my book. – Tim

A nice amount of both pumpkin and spice.  Not too much, not too little, not too interesting. – Brittney

There is a bit of fruitiness in this one that can be attributed to the amount of pumpkin that was brewed with the ale, or the addition of ginger.  The spices are nice and subtle on this brew making it enjoyable on that level at least. – Rick

I’d say Sam is a particularly noteworthy brew in this category. Not only is there a nice pumpkin to spice ratio, but it doesn’t interfere with the beer leaning too malt or too hops. It’s a true combined effort, and I can definitely applaud that. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

If it wasn’t for the weird bitter finish that kind of sucked what little joy was in my mouth straight out into something that resembled the vacuum of space, this ale would have had a pretty descent balance on the palate, but that finish killed it quick. – Tim

I like the balance here between the sweet nutmeg and the light dryness offered by the underused hops. – Rick

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Smooth and inoffensive, this would be an excellent thanksgiving game day run for the serious beer drinker that doesn’t want to shell out for the whole family. Of course, we found them two to a pack, so you’re going to have to bogart them in a private stash to even have a shot at getting them away from your uncle. – Mike

I’m gonna go with a no here.  And since Sam Adams actually makes the beer hard to acquire (maybe they know something we don’t about the quality) it really isn’t gonna matter anyway. – Tim

While it is definitely smooth and easy to drink with a nice pumpkin flavor, this brew just misses the mark where I want more body and complexity, I’m left with a simple and generic ale. – Rick

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


Overall:  5.75

M- 6.83 / T- 4.50 / B- 6.78 / R- 5.08