Posts tagged ‘Sour’

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!


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.



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?


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


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


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


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


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


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


Overall: 7.67

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


Trickster – Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

You may have to quest long and hard to acquire this particular ale. Hailing from the way, way up there, Midnight Sun has been brewing Alaska’s finest beers for a number of years now. There are some clever minds at work where you get thirty days of night, and this beer is no exception. So have faith. It may have taken us two years to acquire it, but we’ve never had anything quite like it.


Name:  Trickster

Place of Origin / Brewer: Alaska, USA / Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Belgian Ale / 7.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This unusual brew is made with pale malted barley, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, pumpkin, and Belgian yeast in a steel cauldron. Plus, we hear-tell you can see Russia from the brewery.



It’s a jester-hat-clad pumpkin jumping off the label over a whimsical font.  It’s just screams of all the wicked, wicked things that kids do to one another on All Hallows Eve.  I’m scared…not in a razor-blades-in-your-apple kind of way, but in a thrill of the unknown aspect.  I can’t wait to see what’s under that cap. – Tim

A goofy looking cartoon of a jester pumpkin (hence trickster) graces this label.  A quick mention of basic ingredients and an invitation to fool around; who could resist? – Brittney


Color:  6

Amber waves of grain all the way here. Straw yellow, sparkling clarity, and a few tiny bubbles accompany a terse white head. Looks like a Belgian ale to me! – Mike

A pretty crystal clear golden orange, a thin ivory head, sticky lacing, and very slight carbonation. – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 5.5


Aroma:  6.5

Complex Belgian yeast and malts make up the backbone of this aroma and stand out quite nicely. There’s a fruity character that is almost candy like in its sweetness. Also, just detectable, is a sweet smattering of spices. – Rick

Belgian farmhouse yeast abounds with a musty hop character, citrus notes, and plenty of coriander. Little to no pumpkin though. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 7.5


Mouth feel:  7

Medium bodied and crisp with moderate carbonation—this is pretty textbook stuff; nothing strange or bizarre going on, just a very solid ale. – Tim

This falls somewhat flat with me, resembling a Tripel, but with a slightly watery, yet crisp finish. There is a nice touch in avoiding  the overabundant carbonation found with that style, though. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 7.5


Tasting notes:  6.5

Blood oranges, coriander, and yeasty funk along with notes of nutmeg and clove. The pumpkin here is sweet, but plays so directly into the tart yeast, it’s tricky to recognize at first. –Mike

Farmhouse gamey, with raw vegetal pumpkin, notes of raw meat, oats, and hay. Nutmeg and clove mesh with pronounced flavors from the Belgian yeast strains.  If you like Farmhouse and Saison-styled ales this is gonna be right up your alley.  Pumpkin Pie aficionados better run for the hills. – Tim

From the aroma you would bet the farmer’s daughter that this was going to make your face pucker, but the taste is surprisingly mellow and even a bit sweet.  There are subtle layers of pumpkin and clove, and a solid flavor of malt. – Brittney

Kudos for being unique and complex for sure. The Tripel character imparted from the Belgian yeast adds fruity qualities and is nice departure from the norm. There is, however, a candied sweetness lingering that has an artificial taste almost like an extract of sorts. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5


Finish:  7

A drying nutmeg finish with metallic hints of copper and fruit. – Mike

It’s clean and dry like a cider without too much carbonation. There’s a real vegetal quality to the finish imparting slightly sweet and sour notes. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 6.5


Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 5.5

The spices exist to give the body depth of flavor without working themselves into such a frenzy that they overtake your palate or the raw pumpkin nature of the ale. – Tim

Perplexing pint; pumpkin prevails provost per poignant poise. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 8 / B- 5 / R- 4

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

There is a nice ginger dryness to this ale but overall, I feel it’s not enough to tip the scales either way. – Rick

The sweetness in the body is nicely offset by the dry and relatively clean finish. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 5

–         Multiple Drinkability?  6

I would drink more of this. Touches of the ABV present themselves with a hint of alcohol heat here and there. At 22 IBUs it’s also got a nice hoppy character present in the close.  I was pleasantly tricked on this one….not what I was expecting at all. – Tim

This ain’t your mama’s pumpkin ale. Midnight Sun is reaching a little here, but in good nature, and towards the serious European palate. This sucker is a tank. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 4


Overall:  6.50

M- 7.33 / T- 7.00 / B- 5.92 / R- 5.92

La Parcela No.1 Pumpkin Ale – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, LLC

I apologize that this one is a little behind schedule (it was supposed to be Friday’s post). Last September Brittney and I were getting married. This one, we’re moving. When will we get our priorities straight about drinking beer?

Alas, though the house is packed up in boxes and becoming ever emptier, we still had a jolly good time taking down a draught of the old squash rot. Here’s how it turned out:


Name:  La Parcela No.1 Pumpkin Ale.

Place of Origin / Brewer: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales LLC / Michigan, USA

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Sour Ale / 5.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  The joke is Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer, but the jokes on you, as now they totally do. La Parcela is a sour ale brewed and flavored with pumpkin, Cacao, and spices, then aged in Oak. The result is definitely individualistic. We ripped into Batch 865/866 which was bottled 8/17/2011, giving it a nice year of age.



Everyone familiar with this brand knows their labels are works of art, but this is almost the perfect pumpkin beer label. Deep blue hues of fire lit twilight and jack o lanterns grinning in the darkness.  It captures all of the joy of trick or treating as a kid, without trying overly hard to be creepy or cartoonish, and it works so well. – Mike

Glowing jack-o-lanterns set against a setting skyline of hazy blues and greens, silhouettes of gnarled trees and scarecrows framing a perfect pumpkin patch on All Hallows Eve.  Jolly Pumpkin just flat-out wins as the best bottle illustration I’ve seen.  I want to frame it, buy a case of it to decorate my house, and walk inside of it and live there forever.  – Tim

The coloring on this label is awesome, the scene of the pumpkins, scarecrow and trees are creepy, haunting and beautiful. I also always enjoy a little quip from the brewers or brewery so the remarks concerning Jolly Pumpkins first and only pumpkin ale were enjoyable. – Brittney


Color:  8

This brew has a very cool appearance. It’s dense and opaque with a slight ethereal glow to it. The coloration is a burnt umber yielding a yellow hue where the light hits it, with soft caramel notes in the center. Great head with big airy bubbles and decent lacing. Particulate is found effervescing after the pour  quickly settles to the bottom – it’s kind of fun to watch. – Rick

Golden-orange in color, this reminds me of a freshly juiced glass of apple cider. A solid ivory-tan head with a good amount of sediment throughout and the tiniest bubbles of carbonation you have ever seen. – Brittney

I think this is what Pumpkin juice must look like.  Hazy, yellow/orange with tons of sediment.  Like a spooky version of apple cider with a thick and velvety cream head that displays massive retention qualities and leaves the most amazing–and seriously longest-lacing trail I think we’ve yet encountered on a non-porter product. – Tim

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


Aroma: 6

Sour and vegetal notes are in great prevalence, with the slightest note of bitter dark chocolate. There’s a play of spice, but it’s extremely difficult to narrow against the sour ale. Perhaps mace and clove? – Mike

Musky and earthy, not overwhelming with pumpkin or spice, and just a hint of limey citrus. – Brittney

In case anyone missed the note (like I did) this is a sour ale.  I love a sour ale, when I’m in the mood, and frankly, this smells just like what you’d expect (had I been expecting it).  After being a bit jarred, the usual, tangy scents of sour and spice finally started to break apart with just a hint of apple and cinnamon desperately clawing to overcome the tartness that assaults my senses. But where is the pumpkin?  – Tim

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5


Mouth feel:  6

Very airy and frothy with a good bit of a tingle on the tongue. It’s quite crisp and clean on the palette despite the full bodied appearance. It does have a bit of tartness though, which could be a little overwhelming to any novice of sour ales. – Rick

Given the boggy density of yeast and sediment, it’s actually a good bit on the light end of medium bodied, with a fizzy zip that really punctuates the tartness. – Mike

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


Tasting notes:  5.5

If this wasn’t brewed in Michigan, I’d swear it must be the eastern European approach to pumpkin ale. Sour like a lemon with the intensive bitterness of raw cocoa nibs it’s massive and complex, but almost to a confusing point. It reminds me a lot of the head expanding beers made by Brasserie BFM, but it’s going to be a total mindf@%* for the uninitiated. If the joke was that Jolly Pumpkin didn’t make a pumpkin beer, then the joke is on us, because though caustic and interesting, this is not going to be identifiable as a pumpkin ale to the average soul. That said, I do really enjoy it, particularly as it warms, even if I do have to pretend it’s Halloween in Switzerland. – Mike

I will preface this bit by admitting, I’m not a huge fan of the sour style so my palette may not be accustomed to it’s intricacies. With that said, this brew is way sour making it hard to discern any pumpkin flavor. The spicing may be subtle, but it’s hard to notice over the heavy citrus influence that accentuates it’s tartness. – Rick

So, it is a seriously sour – sour. (It is Jolly Pumpkin after all)  I get a lot of pumpkin, some spice, a touch of chocolate smoothness and a lot of sour granny smith apple. – Brittney

Astringent notes of citric acid, sour cherries, apricots and apples, dried fruit and just about everything else–even hints of metallic rust–but nary a pumpkin (vegetal or roasted) to be found. Cinnamon and nutmeg are the most prevalent spices but I’m sadly disappointed in the overall flavor strictly as a pumpkin sour.  As a sour it’s perfectly fine, but if it weren’t for the incredible artwork on the bottle and maybe a touch of that spice, I wouldn’t pick this for a fall brew if it were standing in a line-up wearing a suit of maple leaves, holding a turkey in one hand and a pumpkin pie in the other.  – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 3


Finish:  6

A wash of foam, and there it is. The huge bread yeast notes, the lingering dryness of wine — it makes me crave cheese.  The cacao notes also show here with the spice, leaving a creamy hazelnut in the back of my throat with a slight astringency that I would never notice in the powerful mix while it was still in my mouth. – Mike

After the initial pucker, this beer finishes clean, if not a bit bitter,with an apple cider vinegar snap. – Brittney

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


Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

It’s a sour with some pie spice notes, together those two things work in pretty pointed unity, but it’s missing the key element of the equation–the pumpkin.  I’m sure it’s in there (for truth in advertising purposes) but it might as well not be for taste purposes. – Tim

It’s almost impossible to classify this one, as it defies the categorization. The spice in here is categorically buried in the multitude of directions this brew is going, and likewise, the sour nature of the ale has transformed the pumpkin into an entirely different, though intriguing, beast. – Mike

I’ve given low marks here because I’m not too sure that there is any spice in this ale. If so, it’s tough to pick out since the sour is so dominant. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 3 / B- 6 / R- 1

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 5


I don’t expect, nor do I want sweetness–at least not pronounced sweetness–with a sour ale.  That said, I ‘d like a touch less bone-dryness at the close on this one to push my score a bit higher on the (broad) curve I’m grading this ale on. – Tim

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  5

Not being a huge fan of sours to begin with, it’s hard to see myself drink more of these. I’m not thinking pumpkin beer when drinking this, and that is the biggest turn off for me. – Rick

This beer was fun to taste and a glass would be enjoyable but that would probably be enough sour for me. – Brittney

I don’t really session sours, and this is no exception.  And, as sours go, I’d drink it again, but this is The Great Pumpkin Beer Review and if I want to be honest – as things go -about its appeal as a pumpkin beer, I think Jolly Pumpkin should retire this one back to patch and stick to making the staple sour ales that have long proved their prowess. – Tim

I love the sour explosion that keeps driving me back sip after sip. It’s parching and wet all at once, and I do love a good sour. So if my pocket permits, I’ll be back. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 3.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 3


Overall:  6.00

M- 6.83 / T- 5.50 / B- 6.75 / R- 4.75

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale – Smuttynose Brewing Co.

What can I say? Sometimes we just don’t agree with other critics. If the spirit of craft brewing was strictly an experimental process, we’d be all about this ale. It’s bold, defined, and exceedingly different. But we like to think there’s more to it than that, and bold or no, this one just misses the mark for us.

On another note, we hope you all are prepped for a fantastic holiday, and have a few p-brews stocked away for the big day. Due to the sheer volume of stuff we’ve got to cover, we’re going to have to extend this years coverage through the end of the month, but hang in there, because we’ve got a few rarer options to talk about, and hopefully, it will give you an incentive (and head start) to track them down next season!


Name:  Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin ale / 5.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This particular ale opts for pumpkin puree over the raw pumpkin approach, and features it strictly in the mash phase. Traditional spices are then added to compliment the profile.



You know what I dig the most about this very straightforward label?  It’s the photo of the pumpkin that has this “Farmer’s Market Homebrew” feeling to it, and the decision of the brewer to include the scientific name (Cucurbita Pepo) for the Field Pumpkin under it.  After that, Smuttynose imparts almost zero information about what’s in the bottle.  I like that duality of both science and mystery on display here!  – Tim

Our first photo realistic label so far, Smutty sports a pie pumpkin with a heckuva stem to it, along with a scientific species labeling of the squash pictured. Also featured is the company logo on the neck, a Harbor seal, and native resident of Smuttynose Island. – Mike

The image on the label looks more photographic than most of the drawn or “clip-art” images used on other labels.  Not much else is given to describe our beverage other than an “ale brewed with pumpkin puree & spices” squeezed in under a very generic Pumpkin Ale title. – Brittney


Color:  5.5

Mustard and tangerine highlight this glass, giving it the reminiscence of fresh pumpkin rind rather than inviting ale. A single finger head also slowly dissipates to a thinner line, with an impressive amount of lacing. – Mike

Hazy orange like a soft field fog hovering just above the earth on an early sunrise in a pumpkin patch.  And, to literally top it off, we get a massive two-finger head with slow dissipation leaving clingy lacing all around. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5


Aroma:  7

Initially it smells sweet with overtones of nutmeg.  Then, the sour pumpkin notes start to work their way in creating a nice mixture. – Rick

Earthy raw pumpkin, sweet caramel, spicy nutmeg, smooth vanilla and a touch of musk are the main points I’m getting with a quick hinted finish of woody citrus.  It’s almost as if they have infused the beer with the 1972 perfume Jovan Musk for women. – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 6.5


Mouth feel:  5.5

The refreshing part is that it is not another medium to heavy bodied beer that coats your mouth with a syrupy sweetness.  This one is slightly lighter, crisp, and bitey.  Its active carbonation excites the palate and the dryness brings warmness to the tongue.  – Brittney

I was taken aback by the abrupt mouth wide tingle that seems to mask any flavor at first.  It’s heavily carbonated and the bitterness leaves my tongue dry. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 5 / B- 7.5 / R- 3


Tasting notes:  5

There’s an intensity and bitterness here that I can only describe as oaky and earthy, with the hops playing a grand slam role in the profile. The effect tends to regulate the pumpkin more to the vegetable realm, but in all honesty, the intensity of this brew’s foundation doesn’t seem to have any intention of playing the dessert game, thereby letting the spices play a similar bitter mash up on the senses. – Mike

The beer doesn’t hide behind the spices or the pumpkin.  Of the spices I taste mostly nutmeg and some cinnamon but I also taste the raw earthy pumpkin and the sweet caramel smoothness.  The hops are very prevalent and bring a slight floral, citrus note into the mix creating a very distinctive pumpkin beer option. – Brittney

The sweetness in this beer is minute under such a dry and bitter body that I did not expect.  It’s also a little tart and sour from the pumpkin puree. – Rick

Wow…that was not what I expected from a fall ale!  With no warning on the label, this bad boy is astringent and bitter as sin.  It would appear that these guys have crafted a hoppy, citric beer, that is way more in line with Smuttynose’s IPA offerings than with what the general consensus would call a ‘pumpkin ale’.  It’s floral with notes of oranges and grapefruit that have been dusted with dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 4


Finish:  5

Clean, crisp, and peppery, there’s yet another unusual aspect to this beer, that seems to want to dance the floral and earthy IPA dance, leaving the malts a bit in the dust. – Mike

Long and dry, with the grapefruit carrying the torch to the bitter (literally) end.  I’ve had some dry IPA beers in my day but this one damn near needs a chaser of water to help get it down.  – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 4


Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

What pumpkin there is in the nose is lost in the body and only hints on the close.  The spice is even superseded by the hoppy bitterness. But, as the initial shock wears off you do get touches here and there.  I guess what I’m saying is that neither the pumpkin nor the spice are predominant over the citric notes. – Tim

The pumpkin puree that is used in the making of this brew leaves it too sour and dry to be able to find any spices. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 2.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

A traditional pumpkin flavor is lost here, leaving the ale to be overly bittered and sour, and any sweetness is out of the question. – Rick

It’s dryness is only broken by a brief moment of respite on swallow, where the malts finally make an appearance, before plunging back into a liquid orange pit never to be heard from again. – Mike

M- 4 / T- 3.5 / B- 6 / R- 2

–         Multiple Drinkability?

One or two would probably be my limit.  It has good flavor but the dryness is super harsh.  – Brittney

Overall this beer is complex, intense, and intriguing as hell. That said, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, or the casual pumpkin seasonal approach. Smuttynose has crafted something here for those that take their beer style preference seriously, and have no tolerance for traditional pumpkin offerings. That said, it seems to be of more value to me as a sense of showmanship, than a seasonal session ale. – Mike

Hop heads might just adore this, but with a lackadaisical approach to balancing the pumpkin and spice against the citrus and floral profile, I’d have to ask why you’d even chose this beer over your favorite IPA….unless you just wanted to be ‘festive’. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 1.5


Overall:  5.42

M- 5.67 / T- 5.17 / B- 7.25 / R- 4.00

Kick (Lips of Faith Series) – New Belgium Brewing / Elysian Brewing

Today marks the start of our countdown to Halloween, bringing you a review a day from here on down ’til the gremlins show up on your doorstep. Starting out the run is one of the coolest bottles we’ve seen yet, and in the trick or treat spirit, a collaborative brew that may have been designed just to mess with your head in all the right ways.


Name: Kick – Lips of Faith Series

Place of Origin / Brewer: Colorado, USA / New Belgium Brewing & Elysian Brewing collaboration

Beer style / ABV%:  Cranberry Pumpkin Sour Ale / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:   In an increasingly popular and frankly, quite cool trend, New Belgium’s Kim Jordan and Elysian Brewing’s Dick Cantwell have yielded this creative co-op as part of the Lips of Faith Series. It’s 75% ale brewed with pumpkin and cranberry juice, 25% ale aged in wooden barrels. It’s as interesting and different as it sounds.



This is how you do it!  It seems like no one in the craft brewing world screens their label right onto the bottle.  But, Kick has it all there; gorgeous pumpkins glowing yellow and orange right from the beautiful brown bottle with an explosion of little red dots (to represent the cranberry element) all across the background. I’m confident, this is perfection…wouldn’t change a thing. – Tim

One of the cooler looking bottles so far, it boasts multiple playful jack-o-lanterns on the label.  There is nice work with the negative space as well, and the dominant red hue certainly hints at the cranberries, even if at first you don’t notice them in the background. – Rick


Color:  6

A blonde almost wit looking ale, with a fraction of a lean towards the red spectrum, reminding us, yes, this has cranberry in it. Quite the conundrum, to the point, I’m not sure what I should be looking for. – Mike

In something of an anomaly for a pumpkin beer (or rather a Pumpkin/Cranberry mash-up), Kick shines a radiant gold with slight opacity.  Yields a 2 finger head from a moderately aggressive pour and maintains good retention with lacing that lasts for the duration of the drink. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5


Aroma:  7

The aroma is pretty unique on this one, considering the use of cranberry in it’s production.  It has a sour body to the nose, which paired with the fruits and pumpkin give it a veggie quality.  It’s definitely bold and stands out from the crowd, but initial tests suggest this is a different pumpkin ale. – Rick

I get a lot of hops, which follow with an almost grassiness.  Then comes the sourness of the cranberry and slight note of pumpkin. – Brittney

A light nose with some small debris, and a strong suggestion of a sour ale. There’s definitely a cider note inherent as well, or really, an almost lambic sense suggesting this could be at once clean and neat, or kind of intense. – Mike

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


Mouth feel:  6.5

It’s light bodied, and mouth puckering. Fizzy like ginger ale as well. In fact, cranberry ginger ale is pretty spot on for the texture, minus the soda syrupy after taste. – Mike

Right away I’m hit with the cranberry and a sourness that is well defined.  It is a bit watery feeling on the tongue and leaves behind a slight tartness. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 7.5


Tasting notes:  6.5

This beer ‘kicks’ taste buds you didn’t even know you had.  It’s one of the most (if not the most) unique that we come across thus far.  A crisp sour drink that could get you in trouble if you don’t remind yourself it’s 9%. – Brittney

Yea, it’s sour but that really shouldn’t come as a shock to any beer drinker worth their malts.  New Belgium is known for their embracing of European ‘Sour Beer’ productions and even though Kick probably doesn’t quite measure up to their better offering, it’s still decidedly in the same game.  Once you move past the nearly overpowering pucker aspect, the honey and orange notes pop along with the stated cranberry and the fresh pumpkin. – Tim

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


Finish:  6.5

It’s got a lot of oomph and snap, and a long fruity draw that coats the throat right on down the gullet. That said, it’s got a refreshing cleanliness, not in the absence of flavor, but in the way smelling lemon in a clean bathroom might alert you that all is well. I do get an interesting hint of oak age in there as well, lingering in my saliva a few seconds after the swallow. – Mike

For the amount of flavor this beer brings to the table the finish is strangely short but strong and sour.  – Brittney

M- 5 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6


Flavor balance:

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

This is a pretty much defunct category for this brew. There’s no spice intended, and the pumpkin is more an alternative source than a staple approach. Definitely a punk rock experiment, which some will like, and some will hate.  – Mike

There is no spice in this ale, but I believe instead the use of cranberry really balances the sourness and takes some of the bite off of the fermented pumpkin / gourdy body. – Rick

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

It puts me in mind of drinking a dry white wine and with the sour flavors there is not much sweetness to be found. – Brittney

This isn’t cranberry sauce sweet people, this is bone dry white wine or brut champagne levels–however once again, based on style, that seems to be by design. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Too fruit juice sour for my tastes, but it is definitely worth the try if not just to study it’s traditionally brewed style. – Rick

Super easy to drink if you are a sour lover like me but with the larger bottle and higher alcohol content I’d stop with just one. – Brittney

As far as multiple drinkability goes, you could do worse pounding down a bomber of this. However, for a fall beer I think this misses the mark even with the cranberry focus.  The reality is–as with most Sour Beers in my opinion–the high citric content and the Warhead level of pucker make me want to pound ice-cold glasses of this in the high summer heat by a crystal blue pool, and not so much bundled up by the fire with a pound of turkey on my plate. – Tim

M- 3.5 / T- 5 / B- 63.5 / R- 4


Overall:  6.25

M- 5.58 / T- 6.50 / B- 7.33 / R- 6.00