Posts tagged ‘San Jose’

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

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Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac

If our first two reviews this month are any indication, California is killing it when it comes to craft beer and the farm to table movement. Further, if this beer is par for the course, Almanac Beer Co. is poised to quickly rise to the forefront of said movements. A pair of “gypsy” brewers (or for the uninitiated, brewers who don’t own their own brewery), Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan brew through the good faith of using other local brewing equipment. As a result, Almanac is the definition of “small batch”, creating exclusive seasonal releases that incorporate local ingredients, and flies off the shelves in no time. Already well decorated in accolades, we weren’t surprised that this was a good one. We were surprised at just how good it was though, and just how hard it was to get our hands on it!

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Name:  Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm to Table Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: San Jose, California / Almanac Beer Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Barley Wine / 12.8%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Almanac Pumpkin Barleywine is made with 500lbs of hand-roasted heirloom pumpkins from La Tercera Farms in Bodega Bay. The caramelized gourds were added to their American Barleywine and aged in brandy barrels for a year, then the resulting concoction was blended with a freshly brewed spiced barleywine.

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Packaging:

The design on this bottle is amazing. Well thought out from top to bottom, informative, clean, and simply breathtaking. From farm to anything seems to be on everyone tongues lately, and with good reason. Farm to Barrel is proudly expressed on the side of this bottle as well as a gorgeous sketch of a tree I would gladly enjoy a pint under any day. – Brittney

My favorite label to date. This one balances beauty and professionalism with charm. Maybe a bit of design porn, what with all the sexy type, but the label just enhances the experience of this great beer and shows the level of appreciation that went into making it. – Rick

A gorgeous postage stamp visage which shows careful consideration on the part of the brewers to impart both information and aesthetic appeal in a design so cool, I would consider framing it.  I hear they grow these pumpkins in Bodega Bay…I was half-expecting some “Birds” on the label.  You Hitchcock fans will understand what I’m talking about. – Tim

Perhaps the sexiest beer bottle I’ve ever seen, this baby features detailed wood cut hop bines accented by metallic gold and ivory lettering a font designer would die for. A sleek and narrow lower paper trailer label encircles with details about the specific bottling, and a giant tree mandala, tractors, and the state silhouette remind you that this is California, Farm to Table and “Beer is Agriculture”. (Also, it says that on the bottle.) – Mike

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Color:  8

            This takes your Belgian dark and adds gorgeous red undertones. It looks thick, decadent, and overtly autumnal. –    Mike

            Nearly opaque, the body is full and inviting. It’s awesome copper and burnt umber coloring is accentuated with a light fuzzy head on top that leaves behind a bit of legging as well. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8.5

Wow, this is a sensory overload of the highest order, with black fruit, brandy, molasses followed by intense malt and vanilla notes.  I want to live inside this…I’m trying to imagine how amazing this would smell if you warmed it up. – Tim

Smells just as it states, very much like barley wine & barrel aged beer would smell, high in alcohol and earthly. Although like any good fall vegetable should, the sweetness is brought forward from being caramelized just a touch. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 9.5 / B- 8 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  8.5

            Creamy. At 13% that should read boozy, but it’s lush and gorgeous, and the only hint of fire is on the swallow. – Mike

It has a full body, but it stays smooth as each sip spills a plethora of flavor over my tongue. It doesn’t burn too much at first, slowly giving way to the inevitable bite of a strong beer. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes:  9

            Warm brown sugar, caramel, an explosion of malt, pumpkin, and spice tamed only by wood, and a finish of vanilla, apricots, violets, and cognac. This is what the flame on the tea light inside your jack o’lantern must taste like after a round of Brandy Alexanders. – Mike

Boozy and sweet, rich with raisins and prunes, caramelized pumpkin, dark molasses and brown butter, vanilla and clove, it dances across the palate with waves of flavor, this is a meal, dessert, and after-dinner drinks in a single glass.  It’s like drinking pumpkin pie. – Tim

I like to believe that our palettes are ever changing.  There was a time that I didn’t really have a taste for anything that mentioned barrel aged or barley wine. This has nothing to do with a lack of love for things that come from barrels. Trust me.  For it’s style, this one does it well, it doesn’t feel or taste too heavy and it allows for the earthy elements as well as the care in brewing and aging to shine though.   – Brittney

As expected, the style really dominates the backbone of the profile with some awesome pumpkin qualities to make this brew shine. I’m almost overwhelmed by the nutty vanilla bean that introduces me to a cinnamon topped buttery crust, there’s so much going on here! – Rick

M- 10 / T- 9 / B- 8.5 / R- 9

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Finish:  8.5

The finish is the reminder that this beer has spent some time in barrels; the oak and smoothness of the vanilla notes stay with you, as does the thickness of the mouth feel. Final reminder is the12.8%. – Brittney

Long and sweet, with bitter burnt caramel notes and linger of dried fruit and oaked brandy notes.  It doesn’t linger nearly as long as I would like it to, but to be fair I’d like it last forever, so grade that on whatever curve you want. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance:  8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

As usual, anytime pumpkin in any state can shine through a spice presence, I call balance. Blending the ales is a genius move for the style. – Brittney

Everything meshes really well, and the pumpkin flavoring is grand. I’m starting to think that complex brews like this one really capture all the nuances of a pumpkin beer, and are the perfect vessel for this gourdy imbibement. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 8

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

It’s Barleywine, it’s not meant to be dry.  The high ABV and bitter burnt sugar notes do less to curtail the sweetness and more to extend its enveloping character. – Tim

This is the only minor space for fault. It is pleasantly sweet, but so bold and luxuriant that it is almost overwhelming. Almost. – Mike

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  9

If I could drink more I would. This beer alone warrants a trip to the west coast in search for more of Almanac’s offerings. – Rick

At 12.8% ABV the intensity of this ale is more than enough for a single 375ml serving.  That said, this is a stockpile-level spirit and I would gladly cellar as many of them as I could get my hands on.  In fact, if I see it at a store, you better get out of my way. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 10 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

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Overall:  8.50

M- 9.00 / T- 8.67 / B- 7.92 / R- 8.42