Posts tagged ‘shipyard’

2013 Rankings and the 2014 Season begins!

Punpkin Beer Set 2014

Oof. Just looking at that photo makes my liver hurt. But we do it for you guys, we do it for you. Now it’s time to do it all over again. So strap in and get ready, the 2014 season has begun and the fourth times a charm!

Of course, as the ritual requires before digging into any more amber spiced libations, here’s a look back at the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the most unique, the most interesting, well, yeah, the really, really good ones. We’ve scoured the earth for these brews, and we will keep searching as the list of craft brews continues to grow and more skilled artisans get in the game.

And of course, we will be breaking down our personal top 5, and lowest ranking choice at the end. So if you’ve got a favorite reviewer, we won’t tell anyone if you skip to there.


Top 10 Beers To Date

10. 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


10. 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


8. Slashed Pumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie* 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.”



8. Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery  *Tie* Score 7.83


Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Gourdgeous uses 1,000 lbs of pumpkins grown at Larry Jacinto Farms just a half mile from the brewery,  hand collected, cut, and seeded by local volunteers, and then roasted in giant ovens compliments of local catering company Q-Works BBQ. It’s then turned into a rich strong porter where molasses and spices join the mix.


Notable Quotes

“Did someone say decadent? This is a top notch porter, delivering on every single promise the aroma has to offer, it’s thick and chewy which stands in direct contrast to the color of the ale. Masses of burnt caramel and molasses, roasted pumpkin and baking spices are mixed with earthy sage and rosemary notes.  It’s a full-on assault making this craft beer more of a meal than a beverage.



6. Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing  *Tie*  Score: 7.92


Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almighty takes Cigar City’s ever popular Good Gourd (an imperial pumpkin ale that includes Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, and nutmeg) and finishes it out for some time in rum barrels.


Notable Quotes

“Spiced Rum, treacle, dark fruits, and milk chocolate. This tastes a good bit like a Dale Degroff tropical pumpkin cocktail with a few extra dashes of Pimento Dram. It’s caramel coated pumpkin bread – beach side.”



6. Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project) – Paradox Beer Co.  *Tie*  Score: 7.92


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.

Notable Quotes

“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.“



4. 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.”



4. 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


3. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)  Score: 8.42


Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Gourds of Thunders stays true to the Cigar City Brew Pub Farm to Table mission, and features heirloom local organic calabaza pumpkins and butternut squash, along with chocolate rye, dark chocolate, coriander, allspice, and other spices. It is fermented with Tim’s go to house Belgian yeast “Forbidden Fruit”.


Notable Quotes

“For some reason, brewpub exclusives tend to be the domain of mad scientist potions, and this ale is no exception. It has to have one of the craziest spice profiles of anything I have had in a very long time. It reminds me primarily of my mother’s homemade Thanksgiving stuffing, with significant notes of celery, cumin, rye seed, fenugreek, an d even a little iron (courtesy of chicken liver in the stuffing – and I don’t know what in the Ale!). Masses of dark chocolate notes and dark roasted malt accentuate the caramelized pumpkin and squash. It’s a meal in a glass.”

Gourds of Thunder WEB


2. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm To Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.   Score: 8.50


Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almanac Pumpkin Barleywine is made with 500 lbs 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.


Notable Quotes

“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.”



1. All Jacked Up (Ron Raike) – Cask & Larder   Score: 8.83


Speciality 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 Five Beers By Reviewer To Date:



1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 9.33
2. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pug (Tim Ogden) 9.08
3. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 9.00
4. Pumking – Southern Tier 8.92
5. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun 8.83

Last Place: Sarnac Pumpkin Ale 3.25


1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 9.08
2. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 8.67
3. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale *Tie* 8.25
3. Pepitas Grande – Paradox beer Co. *Tie* 8.25
4. Blight Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing*Tie* 8.17
4. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams *Tie* 8.17

Last Place: 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
3. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 7.92
4. Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing *Tie* 7.83
4. Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co. *Tie* 7.83

Last Place: Avery Rumpkin 3.50


1. Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing 8.83
2. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) 8.67
3. The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog *Tie* 8.58
3. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden) *Tie* 8.58
5. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing *Tie* 8.42
5. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. *Tie* 8.42

Last Place: Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider 3.50


Pumpkin Closze Up


Slashed Pumpkin – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

Happy Friday the 13th? Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since our last post does it? Welcome to our first post of 2012! We figured we’d get a head start just in case we didn’t make it to next December…

All kidding aside though, we’ve got a treat here in the form of a special holiday edition Micro Brew from Shipyard Emporium’s head Brewer Ron Raike, and it’s certain to help keep you warm through the winter months.


Name:  Slashed Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Shipyard Emporium ( Ron Raike )

Beer style / ABV%:  Chipotle Pumpkin Porter / 6.8%

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.

Packaging:  N/A (Tap Only)


Color:  8

Our beer arrived with a nice cream colored head and a chocolate bar looking body.  No kidding, this beer was very still and solid looking and the perfect chocolate bar brown. – Brittney

Great coloration for a porter style beer.  The dark brown head caps a black body that mimics the husk of a dried chipotle pepper.  There is little to suggest that this beer is pumpkin flavored, it just looks very appealing. – Rick

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


Aroma:  8.5

Spices present themselves prominently up front with strong essences of warm pumpkin pie in the nose, with allspice and cinnamon playing the most outstanding roles. – Tim

A sweet and spicy aroma with strong notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, over a caramel / chocolate pumpkin base, and just the slightest sting of smoky chipotle. – Mike

If smooth had a smell this would be it.  You can smell the creamy chocolaty goodness alongside a deliciously brewed porter with just a touch of that vegetal yet caramelized pumpkin and a hint of spice.  – Brittney

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


Mouth feel:  7.5

The smoothness makes this medium bodied brew easy to drink, while the spicy back end keeps you sipping at this delicious pumpkiny porter.  It feels frothy as it expands across the palate really allowing the flavors to sink in.   – Rick

A full bodied creamy wash of foam that wraps the tongue and coats the throat. – Mike

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


Tasting notes:  8

Sweet Pumpkin and rich chocolaty porter up front with the spices filtering through the foam pleasantly.The chipotle appears as a smoky quality that is quite pervasive, before dropping the hammer of spice into the finish. The sweet honey and salted butter of the grits in the garnish seem to help bring a bit of the pumpkin into the forefront as you drink on, and the palate because a bit more confused by the spice. – Mike

Smooth and creamy with the perfect amount of dark chocolate notes I want in a porter.  Deep and rich with the addition of Chipotle peppers presenting themselves on the finish. The spices get lost in the depth of the brews abundant flavor profile, but as it comes up in temperature, the roasted pumpkin notes present themselves and give the beer a resounding depth of character. – Tim

I’m a big fan of spice being invited to the party when it shouldn’t be and let’s face it, most of the time chipotle peppers are not on your usual list of ingredients when it come to beer.  It took a second to be noticed but the chipotle builds and really shines as the brew warms. Also, Porters can have a tendency to overwhelm my palate but this one sets a prefect table for savory pumpkin, sweet chocolate and spicy chipotle.  If the master cleanse needed a beer option this would be it. – Brittney

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. – Rick

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


Finish:  8

Pure chocolate smoke with a slap of pepper spice crawls down the throat leaving a trace of heat that builds with each sip, adding a nice southwest flair. – Mike

The finish here is all about the heat from the Chipotle peppers.  Touches of smoke and the slow burn from their inclusion provide this beer with a real show-stopping quality—with the heat building on itself and really waking up the tastebuds and warming you up on cold winter nights.  The beer is garnished with a pumpkin grit fritter that provides a nice addition of both fried goodness to cut the porter and creamy consistency to supplant the chipotle’s heat. – Tim

It’s a complex finish that gets spicier as your taste buds settle into it throughout the beer.  The spice settles on the back of the tongue and throat allowing your taste buds access to the sweeter bits of the roasted pumpkin. – Rick

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


Flavor balance:  7

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

As directly intended, this beer is more about overall sensory balance, it has a lot of elements to like about it, the spice comes on in the nose, the pumpkin presents in the body and the chilies have their way with you in the end.   It might not seem harmonious at first, but it gets the added points for running a gamut of flavor profiles. – Tim

There may be a touch of cinnamon, but it’s an after thought to the chipolte which stands out as the dominant spice for sure.  Regardless, it’s a great balance of roasted pumpkin flavors with a bit of spice that could quickly get out of hand if the pumpkin was sweeter or the pepper spicier. – Rick

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This brew starts sweet at the tip of your tongue and ends with a spicy kick at the back.  The spice really helps quell the sweet start of this brew lending to more attention to detail. – Rick

Not only balanced on sweet to dry but also on the added challenge of bringing in spice. – Brittney

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

The spicy profile here is the only thing holding this back from being an extremely session worthy ale. Of course, being a bit of a hot head, it’s not going to keep me from another round. – Mike

As long as I have a glass of water around to combat the heat when it might build too much I would love to have a couple rounds. – Brittney

Here is where the chili really rocks this beer.  The beauty of this 6.8% ABV brew is that, it’s not heavy, the immense flavor profile doesn’t overpower your taste buds, and the heat from the peppers keeps sending you back to cool down your throat.  I could drink a lot of this beer. – Tim

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


Overall:  7.83

M- 8.00 / T- 7.50 / B- 8.17 / R- 7.75

2011 Rankings!

Here it is folks! With over 35 product reviews this season, we’re breaking down our collective top ten beer rankings, our top five personal picks, and our personal brew to avoid (all of which are conveniently linked back to the original review).  So if you’ve been keeping track of who you most match up with taste wise, hopefully this guide will come in handy for next years hunt! Thanks again for following our little crusade here, and we hope you all have a great holiday season (and a fridge stocked with some epic winter brews).

Now without further ado…


Overall Top Ten Pumpkin Beer Rankings                                                                     Score

10        Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Cigar City Brewing                   6.33


9 (tie)

            Pumple Drumkin – Cisco Brewing                                                                         6.58

            Lakefront Pumpkin Lager – Lakefront Brewing, Inc                               6.58


8 (tie)

            Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider – California Cider Company                           6.75

            Pugsley’s Signature Smashed Pumpkin Ale – Shipyard Brewery     6.75

            Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale – Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co.      6.75


7 (tie)

            Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing Co.                                                                  6.92

            Small Patch Pumpkin Ale – Tommyknocker Brewery                           6.92


6          Night Owl Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing Company                            7.00


5          Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Weyerbacher Brewing Company                 7.17


4          The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog Brewery                         7.33


3          Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery                      7.58


2          Schlafly Pumpkin Ale  – The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc.                        7.67    


1 (tie)


            The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)            8.25

            Pumpking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.                                                           8.25


Mike’s Picks

1          Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.                                                             8.92

2          Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale – Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co.          8.75

3          Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing Co.                                                                8.50

4          The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)                  8.42

5          Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Weyerbacher Brewing Company                        8.42


Avoid: Saranac Pumpkin Ale – Matt Brewing Company                                         3.25


Tim’s Picks

1          Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery                         8.25

2          The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)                   7.92

3          Schlafly Pumpkin Ale  – The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc.                                7.75

4          Terrapin Pumpkinfest (Vintage 2011) – Terrapin Beer Co.                         7.25

5          Jacques Au Lantern – Evolution Craft Brewing                                              7.17


Avoid: Pumpkinhead Ale – Shipyard Brewery                                                            3.08


Brittney’s Picks

1          Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.                                                                8.17    

2          Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing Co.                                                                   7.83

3          The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)                     7.67

4          Pumple Drumkin – Cisco Brewing                                                                        7.58

5          Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery                           7.42

Avoid: Rumpkin 2011 Annual Barrel Series – Avery Brewing Company             3.50


Rick’s Picks

1          The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)                     8.67

2          The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog Brewery                                 8.58

3          Night Owl Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing Company                                   8.50

4          Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.                                                                8.42

5          Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery                           8.33

Avoid: Private Reserve Pumpkin – Woodchuck Cidery                                             3.50


The Great Plumpkin Ale – Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

I must admit, for a brief second Monday afternoon, my ego got the best of me. Perusing the Facebook page and the bevy of brewers we’ve friended since inception, we had finally achieved beer nerd-vana. “The Great Pumpkin Ale” it read. Sure, that could be any Charles Schulz fan paying tribute, but that couldn’t be. It was based in our hometown. It had to be us. Right?

Sadly, upon further inspection, our eyes (and perhaps our egos as well) had mercilessly omitted a crucial letter. It read upon deeper review “PLumpkin”. Now, had we been better acquainted with Shipyard Emporium’s in house brewer Ron Raike, it’s entirely possible he could have been taking a heartfelt shot at us. Reviewing beer isn’t exactly a low calorie affair. But we’re going to just try to forget our folly, and, well, drink this tap dry. We recommend you make it down to do so as well, and make it snappy, because as a part of their house brew series, Shipyard Emporium is certain to run out of this one before the week is out.


Name:  The Great Plumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Florida, USA / Shipyard Emporium (Ron Raike)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 7.2%

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.



This is where we usually get to talk about the bottle, the design of the label and anything else that is included that the brewer might think is important.  With Plumpkin our “packaging” was our local Shipyard emporium.  Our “label” was a chalk drawn tap handle with small gourd atop.  Our “anything else that the brewer might think is important” was well, the brewer. – Brittney


Color:  8

Dark and ominously cloudly ale with ripe orange accents and visible carbonated core forming a misty head. – Mike

Such a great dark amber color that is full of life.  There’s no head or lacing to this draft pour, but the bronze color is so bold it reflects the massive amounts of pumpkin that were used to make this brew. – Rick

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


Aroma:  8

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and allspice blend well with the defined pumpkin fragrance. But, the standout here is the inclusion of Mace (which is the outer membrane of the nutmeg seed–not the self-defense spray!) adding something very distinct and aromatic to the brew that other manufactures are definitely missing. – Tim

It all hits you right away, the roasted pumpkin, the slightly more complex spices, sweet caramel, a touch of alcohol and back to the roasted pumpkin again.  The impressive part is that is all goes one step further. Yeah we expect pumpkin but you can actually smell the sweetness and slight smokiness from roasting. – Brittney

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


Mouth feel:  7.5

This ale is super smooth for having such a full bodied appearance.  There’s almost no tingle from the carbonation, so you’re able to taste everything this beer has to offer.  – Rick

Despite appearing pretty fizzy, it’s less bite and more slightly foamy cream with a lot of body mass. – Mike

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


Tasting notes:  9

Poured on draft at the Shipyard Brewpub this in-house concoction leaves visions of wicked jack o’ lanterns dancing across my tongue making The Great Pumpkin Ale a nearly perfect blend of the spice that is prevalent in Pumpkinhead and the depth found in Smashed Pumpkin. Shipyard would do well to get this recipe into mass production for 2012.  The brewpub even goes one extra step, offering a fantastic crusty bread garnish with sweet caramel and savory chili dusted pepitas that when consumed in conjunction with the brew and a lush nutty depth to the overall experience. – Tim

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. – Mike

If you could take all the great things from a few of the other pumpkin beers that have been more popular year after year and put them all together in one, you would have Plumpkin.  You get the real pumpkin flavor that so many others strive for; you get a complex grouping of spices that doesn’t overtake the taste.  It’s sweet and clean and delicious.  – Brittney

There is so much pumpkin in this beer it almost sounds like overkill, but they’ve managed to really grasp a great pumpkin flavor without being overly sour.  The spices are delicate here as well, making it boldly sweet in a great way, without resulting in a spicy profile.  Vanilla and caramel come to mind as well, making for one tasty brew. – Rick

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


Finish:  8.5

Long and refreshing, the spice is abundantly present, but not unpleasantly so; particularly since it settles into smooth pumpkin at the very end. – Mike

A soft lingering finish with a touch of hoppy perfume.  Couple this with the garnish and you can really savor the strength of flavors on display in this beer. – Tim

This is one smooth ale.  It finishes sweet and smoky that compliments a great pumpkin flavor.  Paired with a roasted pumpkin seed and caramel garnish, the flavor profile becomes uniquely bold and smoky and overall, stands out in a crowd of pumpkin ales. – Rick

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


Flavor balance:  8.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

With 18lbs of pumpkin roasted and added to the mash you better believe you can get the pumpkin in this small batch wonder.  But for me it keeps coming back to that special something added by the inclusion of Mace.  A very balanced beer with a meaty, profound body and a magnificent mixture of spices.  – Tim

The pumpkin is overloaded here, but with great flavor.  The spices are just enough to make it nice and sweet on the tongue. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 9

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

I went back and forth dry to sweet and sweet to dry with each sip.  Certain characteristics made me feel like it was sweeter and others tended toward dry.  In the end I went with balanced. – Brittney

The caramelization of the roasted pumpkins adds a definitive sweetness to the brew but never an overt syrupiness or stickyness that would demand a crisper or drier finish to balance it.  It just lingers for a moment and then fades away.  Well done. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

While a good bit heavier than most session beers, this offering is so damn tasty, I’m probably going to drink more than I should. This keg is certain to go fast. – Mike

There are so many ways this is a winner that it would be hard to find someone that couldn’t find something they like about it.  – Brittney

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


Overall: 8.25

M- 8.42 / T- 7.92 / B- 7.67 / R- 8.67

Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin Ale – Shipyard Brewery

As a follow up to the rather famous (and varyingly opinionated on) Pumpkinhead ale, we’ve decided to branch out for this follow up review to reflect upon Shipyard’s lesser known pumpkin offering. Here in Orlando, Florida (Winter Park if you want to get specific), we’re very fortunate to have the Shipyard Brewpub and Emporium, which plays host to a variety of local foods, offers some excellent and creative pub fare, and most of all, has not only the majority of the Shipyard line on tap, but also features a slew of local and regional beer features, Shipyard special editions, and Cicerone certified Head Brew Ron Raike’s bevy of inspired and eclectic creations, brewed on site, that refresh the taps on a weekly basis, usually with an amazing garnish, and sometimes with specific menu items included to compliment them.  (say that five times fast).

It really is an impressive little gem in our community, and we’re fortunate to have something like this just up the street from us. At the end of this post you’ll find a few pics from my last adventure up there (the product pictures for both this, and the last blog entry are also from them).

It’s also worth noting that since our regular reviewer Keenan is having some scheduling troubles and technical issues (read: his computer has completely melted down), we will have our resident lady drinker of repute, Brittney subbing in for him until things get back to normal. We’ll have a full bio up to get to know her soon, so hang in there, and thanks for bearing with us in times of digital fail.


Name: Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maine, U.S.A – Shipyard Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Wheat Ale, 9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: While featuring the same English leanings as it’s older brother, Smashed Pumpkin seems to be shooting for the more refined drinker, touting a higher alcohol content, more complex body, and the first time we’ve seen pairing and cooking instructions right on the label of a pumpkin brew. Shipyard definitely seems to take their signature series quite seriously.



Gold foil topped, perfectly pumpkin colored label.  Shipyard’s classic logo is front and center and “Pugsley’s Signature Series” sets off in striking gold leaf.  This is a beautiful bottle right down to the spooky jack o’ lantern hiding in plain sight right in the middle and the port of origin stamp just off to the side.  A class act all the way. – Tim

Keeping pace with a more Halloween styling, this label is nicely balanced with a shadowed glowing jack o’lantern in black, lights dimmed and all, on a field of burnt orange, and elegant gold foil on the plug. Love it. – Mike

The bright orange colored label surrounds the entire bottle giving room for a description and a few food pairing options.  The front logo tries to signify that this brew is special by using a cursive font and similar embellishments. – Rick


Color: 7.5

A rindy yellow bottom that blossoms into a full bright orange at the top of a glass. Pleasant cloudiness and thorough carbonation provides a beautiful head and moderate lacing. – Mike

Medium orange / copper hue with a slight bit of cloudiness.  Had about a centimeter of head after pouring which settled to a thin ring around the glass.  Thin lacing. – Erich

Crystal clear and copper – like a penny that’s got just a hint of age on it. Very pretty. And, to literally top it all off, Smashed Pumpkin pours an insane two-finger head that lasts forever. – Tim

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 8.5 / R- 5 / E – 7



Aroma: 6.5

The aroma seems a complicated mélange of spices, hops, and malts that tries to blend traditional wheat scents with hints of a lighter IPA.  The high alcohol content of this beer gives a slight bite to the smell as well. – Rick

Nutmeg and clove are present on the nose, but far more subtle than most offerings. There’s also a nice thick presence of pumpkin here and a slight spiciness of cumin on the edge of perception. – Mike

I’m finding a lack of spice on my first approach, its actually lacking in any strong aroma at all.  If I had to pull something from it, it would to be a true pumpkin scent to unimpressive ale. – Brittney

A strong pumpkin aroma sets this beer apart from the pack.  Subtle hints of yeasty fruitiness sneak in behind the pumpkin.  Curiously not much spice character on the nose. – Erich

M – 7 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 6 / E – 8


Mouth feel: 6.5

It’s clear that the folks at Shipyard are taking notes of the thinness complaint that their Pumpkinhead beer gets.  This 9-percenter is medium-to-full bodied and thick on the tongue in the best possible way.  Not porter thick, but for an ale, this packs quite the punch. – Tim

Ranking in as one of the more substantial tasting beers we’ve chewed on so far, definitely leaning on the side of a wheaty ale. Thick and nicely viscous which seems to allow the foaminess to tone down a bit and avoid too much bite on the tongue. – Mike

There’s a sting of hop bitterness and a bit of heat from the 9.0% ABV.  There’s a bit of substance – not quite buttery but more viscous than water. – Erich

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 6.5 / E – 5


Tasting notes: 7.5

It’s refreshing to find a flavored beer that doesn’t overload you with most of what you have in your spice rack, but isn’t that part of the fun of drinking a pumpkin beer in the first place? – Brittney

This is more of what a pumpkin beer should be – a good base beer that uses pumpkin as a key accent.  The ale yeast provides a subtle fruitiness that the pumpkin compliments superbly, with a hop bitterness contrasting and rounding out the experience as a nice pale ale.  As the beer warms the subtle spice characteristic (mostly nutmeg) emerges. – Erich

If Pumpkinhead is the staple beer of the major pumpkin world, Pugsley has done Shipyard a great service in growing up their autumn line. Contrary to it’s precursor, Smashed Pumpkin proves to be a dominantly pumpkin ale – more so than any I’ve ever tasted – relegating the pumpkin pie spice approach as a secondary characteristic, and stepping up to the beer snob table as a challenging palatial entity. Bravo gentleman. – Mike

M – 9 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 5.5 / E – 8


Finish: 7

This ale starts slightly sweet and ends bitter at the back of the tongue.  The abundance of spice leaves me searching for the pumpkin at the end. – Rick

Long, sweet, molasses finish that demands you savor it for more than a few moments However, medium carbonation along with the higher alcohol content can defiantly produce a little heat in the throat for those of you not accustomed to aggressive beers. – Tim

Despite the syrupy sweetness, once that linger leaves the mouth, the finish is more reminiscent of a dry chardonnay. – Brittney

M – 7 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 6 / E – 7


Flavor balance:5.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

While appearing in an unusual separatist nature, the presence of both is undeniable, but the real winner here is the definitive pumpkin presence. To be honest, I do enjoy the spicier notes of other ales a bit more, and if I had one criticism of this beer, it might be an attempt to capture the smoothness of spice that other ales provide – strictly when it is present on the nose and finish, without foregoing their focus on pumpkin.

The more upfront pumpkin presence is very nice and a good change of pace from other pumpkin brews, but a little more spice would’ve made this fantastic. – Erich

M – 7 / T- 7 / B- 5 / R- 5.5 / E – 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

For an ale that teeters the line into a heavier weight class, this one could have been over sweet, but Shipyard showed some excellent restraint here and I think it comes out very well balanced. – Tim

It seems well balanced at first, but then tends to accentuate the dryness of the hops leaving you searching for the pumpkin. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 5 / E – 5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Despite it’s higher alcohol content, Smashed goes down shockingly well. While the sugariness and foam is a touch bloating, the reality is, that’s after an equivalent three drinks by the average pour standard of anything we’ve reviewed up until now. I could happily do myself in with two bottles of this, if you’re driving, of course. I paired my second pour with a stroopwaffle. I highly recommend it. – Mike

This is not my favorite pumpkin ale, and I can’t say I really enjoy the way the hops play a role in this ale.  Unfortunately, I could barely make my way through the 22oz bottle. – Rick

I wouldn’t push it but I’m an 108 pound lady. – Brittney

M – 6 / T- 4 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5 / E – 6


Overall: 6.75

M – 7.50 / T- 7.08 / B- 6.33 / R- 5.67 / E – 6.75

Editors note: For a potentially blasphemic taste experience, and to add that little bit of spice, try pouring about a 1: 3 ratio of Pumpkinhead into Pugsley’s Smashed to achieve the more pumpkin pie result of other beers, without overpowering this delicious brew. Just don’t get caught by the beer police, or you might get slapped.

Pumpkinhead anyone?


They seem well enough stocked.


The many taps of the shipyard, and a great excuse as to why we drink so much.


Roasted duck fried dumplings. mmmmmmm.


A peek inside the pub menu, featuring an anatomy of beer, paired with an excellent Cigar City Maduro (in a Laughing Skull glass).


Some cook vats ready for the next brew.


The Mug club is a great resource to locals offering bigger pours, and your own personal mug, along with special drink offers. Note the top left shelf of the freezer featuring Ron's yeast samples in Ball jars.


Pumpkinhead Ale – Shipyard Brewery

First off, just wanted to apologize about the delay between posts. We’ve had a hectic schedule that we’re trying to iron the kinks out of with multiple members of this blog traveling to Atlanta last weekend, two of us playing some higher profile shows, and a wedding in the mix.  To make it up to you, we’ll be doing a double back to back post coverage of Shipyard’s famous, and lesser known pumpkin brews. So be sure to check back tomorrow!


Name: Pumpkinhead Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maine, U.S.A – Shipyard Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Wheat Ale, 5.1%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Shipyard brewery specializes in English style ales, and this award winning ale is no different. Featuring two-row british pale malt, malted wheat, and English top fermenting yeast, it certainly offers a bit of a departure from a number of the American styles we’ve seen so far.



A spookier look for shipyard wins a fond place in my heart that would make Washington Irving proud. Featuring a statue sporting a sinister looking jack o’lantern in place of a head, it’s certainly Halloween. Fortunately this horseman just seems to be looking for a kegger. – Mike

The illustrated pumpkin is quite cartoony and appears to be an homage to the Headless Horseman, so enjoyable in some aspects.  The dark blue background provides great contrast to the orange Shipyard logo and orange banner.  The use of different fonts on the label feels a bit jarring. – Erich

Shipyard bottles always look great.  And, I’d be lying if I didn’t measure the beginning of the fall season by looking around for the big display of Black/Blue and Orange bottles of Pumpkinhead Ale with their patina-bronzed headless horseman logo holding a mighty pint glass aloft. It’s a great label and a herald for the end of summer. – Tim



Color: 3.5

A little bit lighter in color with a golden hue and a hint of caramel coloring.  The head was very light and dissipated fairly quickly. – Rick

If you want to call this orange, you’re going to need to hold it up to a piece of stark white paper.  In fact, you’d be better off just holding it up to a piece of orange paper.  Sadly, color wise, this could be just about any basic golden-hued ale. – Tim

Very pale amber color with thin head, no lacing and a good amount of carbonation.  Nothing about its appearance advertises “pumpkin beer”, or even “beer” for that matter.  Looks more like cider or ginger ale. – Erich

M – 2.5 / T- 3 / K- 4.5 / R- 6 / E – 1


Aroma: 5.5

Clove emerges in dominance with allspice following and just a glimpse of nutmeg. I don’t smell even a dash of pumpkin here. It’s pleasant enough, though, and certainly nothing to turn me away. – Mike

The cinnamon spice really stands out here hinting at an abundance of sweetness with almost a buttery scent lingering in the background as well. – Rick

A fantastic pumpkin smell. Just the right amount of cinnamon as well. – Keenan

I feel like I’m grading on a curve here because I think people really like how this smells.  It’s almost overpoweringly spicy.  Like someone dumped a shot glass of Allspice, Nutmeg and Clove into the bottle.  But it almost smells artificially overpowering–like pumpkin potpourri.  – Tim

M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 10 / R- 7 / E – 3


Mouth feel: 5

The best analogy is soda water, but without the acidity – i.e. too much carbonation.  Spices feel sharp and astringent initially, then fade to a tickle. – Erich

Mild bodied and clean with a fair amount of carbonation giving it the slightest burn when held on the tongue.  Probably the boldest aspect of this pour. – Mike

Light and watery with a very slight bite of carbonation which gives it a crisp feel on the tongue.  Otherwise, there’s not much going on here. – Rick

M – 5 / T- 2 / K- 10  / R- 5 / E – 3


Tasting notes: 5.5

Surprisingly, despite the nose and color, there is a shot of pumpkin, nicely copulating with cinnamon and nutmeg. Interestingly, the clove seems to take a back seat. There’s also a note of caramel and malty bite. – Mike

Pumpkinhead, for all its branding savvy and the scores of friends of mine that love it, comes off to me as little more than a Yankee Candle floating in a glass of Corona.  The flavor profile is inoffensive generic beer with a gallon of spices to mask the taste.  Like soda pop for adults. – Tim

This beer is not too spicy or sweet having the ability to really capture the essence of pumpkin spices.  It is quite appealing to the senses, and I think combined with it’s lightness make this beer a great introductory pumpkin lager. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 3 / K- 8 / R- 6 / E – 2


Finish: 5.5

The initial burst of sweetness and spice attenuates quickly, leaving a faint spice flavor and an overall clean finish. – Erich

Creamy and rich, there’s definitely a whipped cream and pumpkin pie mix that lingers on the tongue pleasantly, and throws the faintest scent of a burning jack o lantern up the back of the throat into the nose. Cumin comes to the front of the throat on swallow, for the faintest burn and a lot of character. – Mike

Super crisp if you drink it at damn-near freezing temps.  Light and innocuous if you take it up a few degrees.  It’s gone off your tongue in a matter of seconds. – Tim

The after taste is great. Not too strong. Though I can’t help but have an almost copper taste in my mouth after drinking a six pack. – Keenan

M – 8 / T- 3 / K- 9 / R- 5 / E – 3


Flavor balance:5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

It’s all spice for those of you that like that sort of thing. – Tim

It is too sweet, with a poor balance of spice (cinnamon and clove dominate) and is absolutely foundationless with regard to hop, yeast or malt character.  As a beverage in general, it may certainly be enjoyable, but through the lens of a beer review, it fails. – Erich

M – 4 / T- 3 / K- 10 / R- 5.5 / E – 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Fairly balanced with a slight lean to the sweet side. The bite at the end does mildly confuse though, in that it plays at a stauncher IPA. – Mike

Very cloying. – Erich

M – 6 / T- 3 / K- 6 / R- 6 / E – 2

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Not difficult to drink, but with its sweetness and carbonation one must figure that the Pumpkinhead is a fast-track to an upset stomach, especially for those who are accustomed to drier beverages. – Erich

I would actually purchase Pumpkinhead by the case. I killed these babies quick. – Keenan
M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 10 / R- 7.5 / E – 4


Overall: 5.00

M – 3.92 / T- 3.08 / K- 7.66 / R- 5.92 / E – 2.5

Well, that one’s certain to cause some controversy… check back tomorrow for our review of Shipyard Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin Ale!