Posts tagged ‘spices’

Pumpkin Roll Ale – Penn Brewing (Pennsylvania Brewing Co.)

Pumpkin Roll

 

Lets clear one thing up before I get accosted with a pitchfork and torches by my mother in law. We were all raised in the south, and most of us have never eaten, or frankly, heard of Pumpkin Roll before (Except for Tim, because Tim has literally eaten anything you have ever heard of, except maybe a Century Egg). It is not much like pumpkin pie as it centers around a cream cheese frosting. So there is a decent chance that if you are a fan of Pumpkin Roll, you may disagree with our initial reaction to the beer before the dessert. That said, the dessert sounds fantastic, and we’ve included a video below to teach you how to make it yourself.

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Name: Pumpkin Roll Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Pittsburgh, PA / Pennslvania Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 6.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Pumpkin Roll Ale is modeled after the popular Northern U.S.A. dessert and includes real pumpkin puree, lactose sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.

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Packaging:

The tradition of pumpkin orange and green adds a nice rustic background to a red barn in the fall with a pumpkin patch and bales of wheat, it reminds me of the barn raising scene in Witness if there was drinking involved. – Tim

A green and gold harlequin border over a bright orange field with folksy fall accoutrement, including a pumpkin patch, barn, and corn stalks a plenty. Looks like a Quaker fall to me! A suitable homage to their home state founder, William Penn. – Mike

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Color: 5.5

The appearance is slightly hazy with just a trickle of bubbles, thin dissipating head, with the sticky lacing glowing yellow-orange. -Brittney

I find this to be your typical copper colored pumpkin ale color, but with a cloudy twist. Light and semi transparent, it appears to be medium bodied with a frothy white head. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 5.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 6

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Aroma: 5

The aroma on this one is fairly vegetal, with a sweet and sour twist. The sourness I am assuming comes from the cream cheese aspect of the pumpkin roll. – Brittney

Kids bubblegum toothpaste and the icing packet that comes in a pack of prefab cinnamon buns with a green grape and yogurt smoothie to wash it all down. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel: 5.5

Medium bodied, the ale is smooth on the palate, but a notable burn on the tongue and the in the back of the throat could be tamed by bringing the carbonation level a little further into check. – Tim

There’s a bit of a bite on the palate. It’s light though which makes it an easy drinker, while being capped by a nice sourness to finish it all off. – Rick

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 5.5 / R- 5

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Tasting notes: 4.5

Birthday cake with cream cheese icing and lots of vanilla. A pecan nuttiness is trying to poke through, but pumpkin and powdered sugar are ruling the dat. I’ve never had pumpkin roll myself, but if this is accurate, it must destroy any notion of a diet. – Mike

For the uninitiated, a pumpkin roll is essentially pumpkin spiced cake wrapped around a pinwheel of cream cheese frosting. It’s insanely decadent, and the ones I have from Amish bakery’s are mind-blowingly addictive. This ale is for all intents and purposes trying its best to recreate that in liquid format, but it’s hang up is a primary character of Cool Whip that is so prevalent that I feel like my tongue is coated in wax after every sip. The spice notes are the same as the nose, with allspice and nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla prominent. It’s all very strange but not entirely unappealing. Lets just say a little bit goes a long way. – Tim

Big dollops of candy wax, creamy vanilla, butter, and cream cheese. It’s slighty sour with a good bit of spice poking through the end, like a bowl of milk after you ate all the cinnamon cereal. There’s not a lot of pumpkin in there though. – Brittney

Very unique and interesting. Lots of different flavors combining to mimic an almost artificial cream cheese flavor. Raisins and grapes stand out, and if cinnamon whipped cream hasn’t been created yet, it should be. All these elements are united by a slight pumpkin flavor. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 3.5 / R- 5.5

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Finish: 4.5

There is a mace like quality to this finish with a raisin aftertaste. Very clean and nicely juxtaposed with the fruity sweet profile. It is a tad on the bitter side though, and a little too harsh with the cinnamon. – Rick

Buttery, confectioners sugar, allspice, and intense amounts of dry hopped cream cheese. It’s bittersweet both in form and function. – Brittney

M- 5 / T- 5 / B- 3 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance: 4

 

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the pumpkin is present as much as the idea of the pumpkin is conveyed, this once again falls much further on the scale of spiced ale than a true pumpkin beer. – Tim

The pumpkin is clearly an afterthought with cinnamon and nutmeg dominating the spicing. The finish hurts this one being overly spiced and bitter. – Rick

M- 3 / T- 4.5 / B- 4.5 / R- 3.5

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 4.5

Probably the most baffling thing about this beer is that it isn’t half as sweet as it smells. It’s still sweet, but it finishes on a fairly dry and spicy note, which is the only thing keeping it from being too intense. – Mike

I do enjoy the fruity elements and raisin aftertaste, but it ends up being too cloying for me. The dessert aspects of this concept are pushed too far and don’t allow the pumpkin to flourish. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 4 / R- 4.5

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 4

I think you have to look at this in the perspective of; “Are you going to get the experience of having an amazing pumpkin roll in beer format?” The simple answer is no. So, save your calories and go get the real thing. Then wash it down with a nice pumpkin porter instead. – Tim

I can drink an occasional pumpkin pie, I can’t drink a pumpkin roll. – Brittney

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

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Overall: 4.83

M- 4.92 / T- 4.83 / B- 4.42 / R- 5.33

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Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co.

Riverhorse

So it turns out getting wifi issues resolved in the mountains isn’t quite as easy as it would seem, but we haven’t left you for the year just yet. Leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday we will be making a few more reviews before winter brews completely take over the shelves. So put down those bottles with elves, krampus, or lovely snow scenes for a few more days, and join us in a few more gourd laden delights!

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Name:  Hipp-o Lantern Imperial Pumpkin

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lambertville, NJ / Riverhorse Brewing Co.

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

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Hipp-o Lantern is brewed with pumpkin purée, molasses, and a variety of hand crushed spices.

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Packaging:

A river horse, for those not in the loop, is a Hippopotamus. That established, the label art on this bottle is definitely fun, sporting a well illustrated hippo head jack o’lantern. It’s quirky and amusing, and still manages to get the brand and style across. For my money though, the lampooning of the headless horseman astride a hippo sported on the beer case is maximum laughs. Though in reality, that would be pretty damn terrifying. Have you seen the teeth on those things? – Mike

It’s a graphics intense label with little more than the name of the ale and the brewery up front and some minor tidbits about the concoction inside on the back. There is a whimsical illustration of a pumpkin that I would go so far as to say delivers a “not impressed” look on the neck.  Let’s hope that doesn’t foreshadow the ale to come. – Tim

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Color:  7

This is a beast of a brew boasting a great opaque and rich body that is just aching to be imbibed. It has a rich dark cinnamon profile that glows with an almost reddish hue when held to the light. My glass is also left with a fair bit of legging from the creamy head. – Rick

Pours a murky copper color with trails of carbonation floating to the surface where a small tan head holds strong. As the glass empties a bit you can catch a bit of sediment gathering around the bottom.  – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

Just a touch of everything, a bit of pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, a touch of malt and caramel. It has a really fresh, slightly nutty aroma. Sort of reminds me of the walking into the produce department near fall when it’s full of fresh earthy vegetables, sweet fruits and cinnamon brooms are inevitably hidden somewhere.  – Brittney

The bouquet is cinnamon and clove with pumpkin and caramel and just a touch of booze to carry it all to my nose. – Tim

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This beer could stand to have a little more body and a little less carbonation. On a more positive note, it plays a fair balance that isn’t overwhelmingly slick or syrupy and doesn’t leave your mouth feeling like a desert. – Brittney

Refreshingly full bodied, this ale lives up to it’s imperial name. Well balanced flavors mix over the tongue, and I can’t tell that this has a high ABV it’s so smooth. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Tasting notes:  8

The first thing that pops out at me here, or rather, doesn’t, is the spicing. It’s there just enough to nod at you knowingly, but the star of the show here is a fine amber ale that is earthy pumpkin forward, with lots of crusty notes, and skips the sugary pie minefield all in one step. – Mike

Really well done, with pie spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg swirling around pumpkin puree and rich malts and hints of vanilla.  The ale itself touts how well it is balanced and I for one can’t seem to find a disagreement to be had there.  Not showy, but a solid ale all around. – Tim

 I like it when a pumpkin beer can pull back on the spice and let all of the other elements stand just as strong.  This is a nice blend of earthy pumpkin, nutty malt and enough spice to be a complimentary flavor instead of a crutch. – Brittney

Full flavored and full bodied, I’m really impressed with how well the flavors are balanced. It’s smooth and creamy with some vanilla shining just above the pumpkin flavors.- Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

The finish is as clean as you can expect from this style of beer, and with no overwhelming characteristics (I mean that in the best way possible) there aren’t any lingering flavors. – Brittney

This finishes like a neat rye whiskey. It’d pleasantly dry, with a touch of smoke, and quite savory. – Mike

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

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Flavor balance:  8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

It’s tricky to call out a specific spice as standing out here, which I find refreshing. River Horse managed to keep this ale both pumpkin forward and fairly dry for such a malty glass. The result is a nicely restrained offering that, while it may not blow your socks off, also won’t blow your palate. – Mike

Arguably one of the most balanced pumpkin offerings I’ve had, this ale isn’t broadly hitting every possible nuance of the varieties of pumpkin beer offerings, but still manages to compile the spice and gourd backgrounds into a swirling vortex of malty goodness. – Tim

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Sweetness in the body is tempered by a touch of sourness and the clean finish, once again showing a deft hand from the Brew master at River Horse. – Tim

I have a tough time with beer that is too sweet, so tasting an imperial pumpkin ale that is so full of flavor, yet so well balanced is a welcome treat. – Rick

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

This would be a great session ale for parties or as a mellow offer with with a bit of booze after a big Thanksgiving meal. It’s full and refreshing, but eludes a heavy, sugary gut full of bloat. All in all, a fantastic fall sipper for a cool evening. – Mike

If I saw this on the shelves it would be one of my top picks. It’s well rounded, balanced almost perfectly, and has cojones. – Rick

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

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Overall:  7.67

M- 7.58 / T- 7.17 / B- 7.83 / R- 7.67

Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Gourdgeous

Located in an old Norton Air Force Base Building in Redlands, California just across the street from the Municipal Airport, Hangar 24 is certainly appropriately named. Further, they aren’t just messing around with their Local Fields series beers. When they tell you the pumpkins are locally sourced, they’re referring to the fact that they are grown within eyesight of the brewery. (The Local Fields series also features an array of fun and exotic local items such as wine grapes, dates, blood oranges, spruce, and bing cherries). But hey, we’re here to talk about pumpkin beer. So without further ado…

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Name: Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Redlands, CA / Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Strong Pumpkin Porter / 8.5%

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.

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Packaging:

A rustic old country style label promises of farm fresh craft beer brewed from pumpkins grown only a half-mile from the brewery.  I always appreciate a label that takes the time to inform the consumer – this is even more important in the crowded pumpkin beer field.  Take note brewers. – Tim

Nicely done label, simply descriptive and vintage looking.  Staying true to the brewery theme of aviation, you could easily swap the gourd on this label for an airplane flying over the locally grown pumpkin patch. – Brittney

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Color:  6

Put the scarlet letter on this hussy. Garnet and cola pervade this brew, barley touching on brown except in the shadows. Very nice clarity. – Mike

It’s nice and dark upon first glance, but when I really got in there to check it out, I found myself peering into a very soda like concoction. I like everything about this beer except when I hold it to the light I’m misled by the slight glow of molasses color that sways the illusion of root beer. The bone dry head, if not denser than a root beer, doesn’t help this misconception either. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 6

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Aroma: 8 

The nose is loaded with rich caramel and pumpkin spices that with the malt create an overall smooth sense, but brown sugar and molasses are also both very prevalent bringing sweetness to the forefront of your expectations. – Brittney

The base here is a nice porter up front. My nose is picking up decent amounts of sweet vanilla bean with a decadent mixture of dry dark chocolate for a fine finish. My initial reaction is great porter bouquet, but I’m missing the pumpkin element. – Rick

M – 8 / T- 9 / B- 7.5 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  7.5

The body here would be deceiving here based on looks alone. It’s quite full, envelopes the tongue in a decadent wash, and has only the foggiest notion of it’s upward ABV. Quite a bit heavier than a brown, but still evading the boggy trappings of an imperial stout, style wise, I’ve got to call this flawless. Bravo. – Mike

Full end of medium bodied without being syrupy or carbonated enough to notice. The noted ingredients and character of this beer could have given a little more richness and room to shine on a heavier more still platform. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 8.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

An unexpected burst of sweetness joins chocolate roast, creamy pumpkin, and a good bit of spice (but not overwhelmingly so). It’s like finishing a Cool Whip heaped slice of pie with a mug of hot cocoa, and it takes me back to my childhood. This could be a lovely dessert beer, or just straight up dessert, and, admirably, it leaves the mouth with just a smidge of lingering sugar and spice. Perfect piquant Harmony. – Mike

 I have to say that although it’s not traditional, I love it when a pumpkin beer can include dark chocolate notes well, and this one does.  Although it’s an overall sweet option with lots of rich molasses and brown sugar, it does have a decent (I wouldn’t say strong) presence of porter roast as well as a good notion of tasting actual pumpkin. – Brittney

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. – Tim

This is a perfect porter style with bold in your face flavoring. Sweet nutmeg, vanilla, dark chocolate and molasses all commingle well offering a grand base for the roasted caramel and molasses flavors to solidify the pumpkin porter. A very tasty brew indeed. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 9.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Finish: 8.5

Long and sweet, boozy and chocolaty, I can tell the ABV in this beer is on the higher end of the scale, but even with that heady afterthought, nothing could keep me from a second glass. – Tim

This one starts off sweet, but the finish really holds it all together with that dry dark chocolate. It ends up being really smooth with just a slight burn from the 8.5% ABV almost masking it’s strength. – Rick

M – 9.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 9

The spicing here is masterful. Yes, it is quite spiced, but as easily as this could be a sugar bomb, it is firmly wrestled into submission, and resolves exquisitely. It’s rare to find the beer that doesn’t over do something, AND doesn’t shy away from being a spiced beer. This one hits it out of the park. – Mike

I tend to like my pumpkin pie in a bottle to favor the ale side a bit more, but this is a nearly perfect blend of roasted gourd and all the classic spices with a shot of booze to top it all off.  It’s more like bourbon pumpkin pie—if that were a real thing.  In fact, can we make that a real thing? – Tim

M – 9.5 / T- 10 / B- 8 / R- 8

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Just a tad on the sweet syrupy side, but it’s well masked by the hops and dark chocolate finish. – Rick

The only dryness here comes a few minutes later on the finish due to the 8.5% ABV, otherwise this is decadence in all is abject glory. – Tim

M – 9 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

         Multiple Drinkability? 8

Between the sweetness, alcohol, and malt I would probably stick one or two; but I would enjoy them whole-heartedly. – Brittney

This is surprisingly approachable for a fuller bodied, boldly flavored beer. I’m left with neither regret, nor bellyache, and it eludes the mentality of some of the heavier “great taste, so damn filling you’ll never finish the bottle” ales floating around. Do you need more than one bottle provides? I’ll let you be the judge, but for me, it’s pretty darn tempting. Sadly, I only have one. – Mike

M – 7.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.83

M – 8.67 / T- 8.08 / B- 7.00 / R- 7.25

Gourdgeous footer

Ichabod Pumpkin Ale – New Holland Brewing Co.

I have to admit, I’m excited to try this one. It’s been staring at me from the back of the fridge for a few weeks now, and anyone that knows my family closely, knows that we’re kind of obsessed with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (isn’t Tim’s picture up there rad by the way?). Suffice to say, from my dad reading it to us every Halloween as a kid, to the amazing animated Disney version, and yes, even the questionable Johnny Depp movie ( My brother particularly likes it for the sheer decapitation factor, and of course, the Walken), suffice to say, it’s a big deal that has imprinted on me, and always pops into my head (and quickens my pace) when crossing old wooden bridges.

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Name: Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Michigan, USA / New Holland Brewing Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Ale / 5.2%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Combining malted barley, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, this brew is designed to compliment pairings of roasted poultry, root vegetables, peanut sauce, and caraway.

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Packaging:

Washington Irving’s tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hallow is one of my favorite American short stories–on that point alone I’m predispositioned to dig on this packaging with its representation of the pumpkin-headed specter astride his spooky steed. – Tim

Creepy and classic like most things should be this time of year.  The images on the label stay true to its name with only a slight mention of pumpkin ale.  The tiny statement on the front of “Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices with spices added” makes me think this might be a little heavy on the spice end. – Brittney

If Washington Irving’s classic tale was an animated series designed to creep the hell out of Saturday mornings in the 90’s, this label would surely be the perfect nightmare inducing adversary, complete with haunting glow and a red eyed steed. It also seems to imply we might be drinking a beer made out of his head, which explains why that pumpkin looks pissed. – Mike

A nice spooky illustration of the infamous headless horseman brandishing a menacingly evil looking jack-o-lantern in one hand, as he guides his ghostly steed with the other.  You can tell right away that this pumpkin ale is just a little bit different from the others. – Rick

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Color:  7.5

 Beautiful antiqued lace foam draping down the sides of the glass ever so slowly, to compliment the burnt sienna (yeah, I went there) sea glass coloration. This definitely isn’t headless. – Mike

Dull amber-brown and slightly cloudy, it doesn’t have the usually orange glow of some of the spiced ales that we have visited thus far. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 6.5 / R- 7.5

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Aroma: 6

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove all come on the nose almost immediately with the cinnamon leading the charge. Further back in the pack, an air of fresh pumpkin is met with a noticeable zing of sharpness portending an impression of the hops-forward drink to come.  – Tim

This pumpkin ale pours a great deep amber, almost brown in a molasses like quality.  Great lacing is left behind by the frothy head that quickly settled after the pour.  Very appealing in collaboration with the aroma. – Rick

This sucker smells like it’s soaking in nutmeg, and has a rather pungent hop aspect to it. I do get a hint of the barley malt as well, but more as a sense of fleeting charred sweetness. – Mike

Getting most of our usual three, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin dominate the very slight nose on this one.  The only unusual quality of the aroma is the pumpkin smells baked, if not slightly burned. – Brittney

M- 4 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 7

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Mouth feel: 6

There’s a great presence on the pallet from this one right off the bat.  It delicately dances between medium and light bodied while settling across the tongue with a nice tingle. – Rick

Just on the cusp of medium bodied with a hint of wateriness and medium carbonation.  To be honest, I expected more zip from this brew.  I was expecting a bang but all I got was a whimper. – Tim

The experience of the mouth feel on this one is quick and to the point.  The carbonation really expands in your mouth.  It’s very smooth, has excellent crispness and ends slightly dry.  – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes: 5.5

As predicted, Ichabod is hoppy and bitter but not flowery like an IPA, this is a surprisingly citric and vegetal ale with notes of grapefruit along with cinnamon and nutmeg and bready malts. The pumpkin is more subdued but the undercurrent of flavor is there.  The spice level is more restrained than I’d imagined it’d be based on the bouquet.  However, it all rubs me the wrong way.  It’s not a traditional fall ale, with none of the expected sweetness and, yet despite the outburst of hops it’s not floral enough for me to appreciate it as an IPA. – Tim

Well this is an interesting approach. Dry and vegetal, but with a definitive spice presence, I really don’t get even a touch of sweet out of this brew, but more a glimmer of vanilla cream sans sugar and white tea. It’s certainly intriguing as a curio, but I have to be honest and say, while it’s certainly innoxious, it’s unfortunately because it comes off rather benign. – Mike

It looks full bodied but tends to taste more like a medium bodied brew with a nice addition of bitter hops.  I don’t expect to get this good of a beer with a fairly low ABV, but I was pleasantly surprised. – Rick

I was hoping for a little more complexity with this.  I especially would have liked to taste a little more of the slightly burned aroma that I picked up on the nose, I feel like it would have given Ichabod a little more character. – Brittney

M- 3.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 8

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Finish:  6

Cinnamon whisps away with an unexpectedly clean and at once foggy feeling, leaving just a slight bitter facet to the end of a swig. – Mike

This one starts with the sweet aroma, and ends with the nice bite from the hops.  I also notice just a slim hint of actual pumpkin at the very end just to cap off this ales experience. – Rick

Long, bitter, bone dry finish with a lingering tartness that I find intriguing but not overly satisfying. – Tim

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

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Flavor balance:5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Unfortunately the unsweetened approach of the pumpkin here seems to get lost in the fold, leaving only a heavy hand of nutmeg against the beers foundation. – Mike

The hops overpower everything pushing the pumpkin and spice levels down so that they might balance against each other, but you’d never know it. – Tim

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This one is surprisingly on the dry side.  You would think with all of the spices that it might be sweet but it’s like the difference between cinnamon sugar and the cinnamon challenge. – Brittney

I keep wanting to think I’m catching a hint of some kind of brown sugar or something here. But the more I think about it, the more it just seems like the char off the bottom of a pot caramel was cooked in. – Mike

It’s a tad cloying, especially at the end of the bottle, but there’s a nice dryness from the hops that I find really help balance this minor drawback. – Rick

M- 3 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

I’d like to by bottles of this to have at parties just because it label screams “This is Halloween” to me over and over again, but I’m afraid someone might actually drink it.  It’s not a terrible beer.  Far from it.  But, it’s just too perplexing to try and decipher the intention of the brewer here. – Tim

I’d be curious to try this directly with the food pairings suggested or a sweet dessert, as that might certainly provide some depth to the intention of this brew. I end up for now though, underwhelmed and wishing for something a bit more exciting. – Mike

M- 4.5 / T- 4 / B- 7.5 / R- 8

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Flavor balance: 6.00

M- 4.75 / T- 5.17 / B- 6.67 / R- 7.41

The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog Brewery

Next up in our All Hallows Eve count down, Flying Dog offers us some great advice right on the bottle. In order to keep your fears from dominating you, we must embrace and conquer them. Not too shabby for beer bottle philosophy. How nice of them then, to include a little liquid courage with that nugget of wisdom…oh yeah, and those of you in the Maryland area maybe just ought to look into this weekend’s Halloween Smash and Bash party the brewery is throwing. It looks pretty damn cool.

*Warning: We may have gotten carried away with the puns on this one*

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Name: The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Wild Dog Series

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maryland, USA / Flying Dog Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 9.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed with Chico Yeast, Warrior and Williamette hops, pumpkin puree, and a (perhaps not so) secret blend of spices, The Fear weighs as a gravity laden, complex pumpkin pie crust and chocolate note oriented brew.

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Packaging:

Part of Flying Dog’s “Wild Dog” series this bottle features a nightmare of a label pulsating with an ink blot canine that’s just screaming psychosis.  It’s just two steps away from a ‘Fear and Loathing Rorschach bat attack”.  I’m a little scared to drink this beer. – Tim

Flying Dog’s artistry will always hold a place in any Hunter S. Thompson lover’s heart.  Ralph Steadman has a style of art that is mad and impressive and hard not to recognize.  More specifically however we have Flying Dog’s The Fear label and in the true fashion of fear you can’t really tell what it’s supposed to be, but you know it scares the shit out of you. – Brittney

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Color:  8

Don’t be fearful of this imperial ale’s deep dark color.  It pours lights-out opaque, like the darkest corner of the pumpkin patch.  With a blonde, toffee colored head at least two finger tall, you can’t beat it’s striking looks. – Rick

Black as sin with a hint of ruby when lit. Of course the light barely penetrates this ominous brew. The bone white head amplifies the effect nicely. – Mike

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

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Aroma:  7

The aroma screams roasted gourd and allspice and brother, they’re letting you know this is an imperial right up front because, believe me, you could get drunk just off the alcohol fragrance hovering in the air above the head. – Tim

Clove and allspice float adrift a sea hoppy goodness, and a strong insinuation of bitterness runs so deep, we might need an exorcist. It’s definitely intriguing. – Mike

This ale has a typical stout-like aroma, but there’s more to it than it first presents.  There are some spicy notes in there fighting for life amongst the smoky cloves that really dominate the bouquet. – Rick

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

This ale explodes on the tongue right away with flavor.  It’s super poppy on the tongue letting it’s presence fully assimilate your taste buds, the whole time reminding you of it’s 9% ABV with a rabid bite. – Rick

Despite the intense looking nature,  most of this dog is the bark, or rather more in the spirit of a blood curdling howl in the woods, with just a bit of nip when you actually realize it’s a cute little wolf pup. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. But what I’m trying to say here is, this is mildly bodied at best. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 8 / R- 9.5

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Tasting notes:  8

With deep molasses and huge roasted malts, they don’t call it “The Fear” for nothing.  This is agro beer.  It’s not pulling any punches, in fact it’s liable to clock you right between the eyes while you’re not even looking.  The sweetness here is masking a burnt sugar taste that handedly maintains the overall dominant assault that this beer is pushing. – Tim

The Fear definitely does not fall into the sweet pumpkin pie beer category and in true Flying Dog fashion creates a category all it’s own.  The spices and subtle pumpkin pull create a seasonal beer setting but the not so subtle malt and alcohol break the mold. – Brittney

There are some great hints of pumpkin spices lurking in the shadows of this full bodied imperial ale.  The smoky notes tend to stalk a touch of brown sugar as the ale navigates the tongue.  One of the stronger ales with a really bold taste, I can’t wait for a wide release of this brew. – Rick

Surprisingly sweet to start, it fades nicely into a much stouter bitter brew, that impressively doesn’t hide the pumpkin too much, but rather keeps it just below the surface giving you a solid and challenging imperial up front, and your seasonal treat once you’ve proven yourself worthy. It leans a bit on the cinnamon and clove nature, but, I can’t imagine that anything else wouldn’t just blend right into the dryer aspect of this one. – Mike

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

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Finish:  7

Crazy long finish and bitter as sin.  But neither of those things are necessarily bad here–I’ve got to assume that the guys behind this brew were basically daring people to drink it. – Tim

This is going to sound strange, but I almost get a starchy pear finish, and the accompanying nearly parching dryness of the tongue that makes this a continual sipper by necessity. It’s definitely a statement among pumpkin brews, but I could see this getting old quickly. – Mike

Finishes with lingering notes of clove, allspice and nutmeg but those are all cut short by a bitter brew and I mean that in the nicest way possible. – Brittney

M- 5.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

While it’s initial make-up seems to be of smoky cloves, it leans towards a gourd like flavor to really balance this great ale. – Rick

For all it’s frights, The Fear kind of fails at it’s one big opportunity to scare people–the spice arena.  I’ve got a feeling that if there were any subtle spices in here they got creamed by the ABV. – Tim

M – 6 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This one has all the textural characteristics of sweetness with the 9% bringing it back and creating a dry balance. – Brittney

It’s way sweeter than it is dry but in a way that probably won’t endear itself to beer drinkers that are looking for a more saccharin brew.  But if you dig on the kind of complexities found in sugar that’s been caramelized just to point of blackness, then The Fear has a lot to offer. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Alcohol content be damned, I could really make a few of these disappear for good! – Rick

I think one of these would be most enjoyable, before the novelty wore off. – Mike

I tend to cut it short with the darker ones.  The body of this one could probably set me at two but The Fear would probably stop me there. – Brittney

Not for the faint of heart it’s a 9% ABV and I promise you can taste every bit of pain it’s offering. I’m afraid if I drink more than one of these then those ink blot bats are going to attack! – Tim

M- 4 / T- 3 / B- 6.5 / R- 8.5

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Overall:  7.33

M- 6.50 / T- 6.42 / B- 7.33 / R- 8.58