Posts tagged ‘Stout’

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.

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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

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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

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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.”

slashed-pumpkin

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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.

Gourdgeous

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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.”

photo

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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.“

Paradox2

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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.”

GPA 1

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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

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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

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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.”

Almanac

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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

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Top Five Beers By Reviewer To Date:

 

Mike

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

 

Tim
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

 

Brittney
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

 

Rick
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

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Pumpkin Closze Up

Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout (Blackwater Series) – Souther Tier Brewing Company

Warlock

Three years into following us, you guys probably know how we feel about Southern Tier when it comes to pumpkin ale. Their legendary Pumking has proven to have an ephemeral time on store shelves, and inspires cultish hunts and gatherings around tap handles all across the east coast. So, with all of that as a given, you can clearly imagine our excitement at the news that there would be a special late season release of a new pumpkin brew, and part of their Blackwater series, home of their immaculate Crème Brulee Stout, no less. Tingles were had. High fives exchanged. Perhaps a single tear was shed. It was emotional. Don’t judge us…Also, today’s post is dedicated to Hudson, who is probably going to be born in the next few minutes. So raise a glass to Rick’s first kid tonight!

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Name:  Warlock (Blackwater Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Lakewood, New York / Southern Tier Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Imperial Stout / 8.6%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed as a counterpoint to Southern Tier’s other extremely popular offering Pumking, Warlock is brewed with 2-Row, Caramel, Black, and Munich malts, along with pumpkin in the mash, hopped with Magnum and Sterling varieties, fermented with ale yeast, and has pumpkin pie spices added.

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Packaging:

Southern Tier always has some of the cooler labels. This new Blackwater Series release is no exception, really getting into the spirit with an all black palette and one magically maniacal gourd. I also love all the information they share, like specific ingredients. – Rick

With a near monochromatic color palate (white and black – with just a hint of purple) this stout maintains the graphic styling of the cadre of other offerings from Southern Tier.  The label itself features jack-o-lantern that hints of the majestic Pumking but this time sporting a sorcerer’s star and moon hat. – Tim

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Color:  7

This has an airy caramel colored head with almost non-existent lacing; the body has a dark brown to amber glow and is opaque enough to tell that you are unable to see through to the other side of this cloudy pour. This should be setting itself up for something intriguing. – Brittney

The Imperial Warlock pours as black as a moonless sky. Well, maybe just a crescent of a moon since it’s not totally opaque here. I can just make out a very faint glow on the edges. To top it all off, a light tan head seems a bit lacking after a gentle pour. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8

Roasted malts and caramel / toasted sugar sweetness fight a creamy nutmeg that makes it smell just like… Count Chocula. – Mike

An air of pumpkin pie with chocolate graham cracker crust and iced coffee, followed by the sensation of roasted malts and vanilla, dance from my glass like a the vapors from a magicians’ potion. – Tim

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

The color and aroma really had me hyped for a big thick full bodied brew but this presents a more medium bodied feel with a higher amount of active carbonation than the once prescient stillness of the glass infers. – Brittney

There is a unique texture here. It’s milky and medium-full, but not the gobs of stout 10W40 viscosity in so many other extreme beers. It is lighter feeling than it’s counterpart, Pumking, and avoids a slurry of bogging syrup. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  8

Dark caramel crème candies and a ton of malty honey-wheat breadiness. There is a lot going on in this glass, but it all comes back to cocoa and pumpkin pie. I also get a bet of a pecan and marshmallow note. Sweet and nutty to the last drop. – Mike

Roast malts meet roasted pumpkins in a vat of espresso.  Chocolate and bitter spices blend with cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg, crust and liquor, brandy and vanilla.  The stout is heady and a little boozy.  It has a steep curve to climb to match Pumking and despite its outward attempts to differentiate itself from that ale, it fees to me a little lacking in comparison. – Tim

In the world of beer a turned down mouth doesn’t always signify dislike. In this case there is a bit of initial bitterness for the palate to get used to masking any pumpkin flavor up front. It come through later with the uniqueness of the pumpkin and spice combination in Pumking.  Southern Tier knew they had a good thing with Pumking so they made it a stout. I just wish they had made this one a bit heavier and a little more unique.  What you do get of the coffee and chocolate notes are great, however, I wish they were a little more pronounced. – Brittney

This is awesomely sweet with a nicely balanced roasted malt profile. It’s nutty with burnt pumpkins, sweet vanilla beans, and coconut really making this a treat for the season. Speaking of seasons, I think this imperial stout will make a great transition into the colder months as we get closer to the end of the holidays. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 10

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Finish:  7

I really like the creamy smoothness of this brew. Right at the end it’s complimented with a touch of heat from the alcohol to kind of reset after the deluge of sweetness. – Rick

Finish is long and bitter with vanilla notes that are a little too pronounced contributing to a somewhat ‘candle-esque’ profile that unfortunately feels chemically delivered and not organically achieved. – Tim

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

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Flavor balance:  7.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

As far as the pumpkin to spice balance goes this one is pretty well balanced but tends to be slightly heavier on the spice end.  You have to reach for the pumpkin against the malt profile, while the spices stand right out. – Brittney

The spicing is really intense and a bit unique, which is always welcome. Nutty and sweet like coffee house fare, the vanilla and cinnamon help enchant the pumpkin out of this brew. – Rick

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

To be honest, this tastes a lot like Pumking, but with some select dark malt additions and a bit of lactose. The effect is a more easy drinking brew that is tempered by bitterness.  It’s a nice tweak, but not a revelation. And on what unholy scale do we rate this? By Pumking standards, it is substantially dryer. By all others, this is a firmly sweet stout. – Mike

Although it has been said that Warlock is supposed to finish sweeter than its counterpoint, I tend to disagree.  I considered Pumpkin to be pretty sweet and have to say that Warlock is pretty balanced to me. – Brittney

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  8

The harmony of the malt / pumpkin / spice here is fairly divine. I don’t know what dark arts tome they conjured the blend from, but it works well. You can almost taste the toasty souls of the damned. Though it may not be as heavy as I might like in either alcohol or body in the imperial stout realm, the bitterness is a welcome addition to the glass, and makes me feel, unlike the sweet bomb of awesome that is Pumking, that I might be able to complete a bottle myself. – Mike

I have no other choice than to put this beer up against Southern Tier’s Pumking and tragically I find that it does a disservice to the stout.  On its own it comes out a little ahead of the pack and it’s totally sessionable, so if you really dig it, by all means give it a go.  But, I think there are more interesting options in the market. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 6 / B- 8 / R- 10

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Overall:  7.50

M- 8.17 / T- 6.83 / B- 7.08 / R- 8.25

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout – Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon copy

One of the coolest things about craft beer is the spirit of freedom and experimentation that comes along with it. There are limitless options from the largest players, to the smallest local nano-brewers and home brewers, who will always have something new for you to sip on. Of course, it’s no different on the brewing end. All this variation comes about because craft brewers aren’t brewing for the masses, they are brewing for fun. What better way to get creative than to gather around a brew kettle and follow your muse with a few friends? Today’s brew keeps in that spirit, having started out as an experimental improvised beer, intended to be a porter, but as extreme things tend to get carried away, ended as a pumpkin imperial stout with every fixin’ within arms reach of the brew pot.

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Name:  Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Place of Origin / Brewer: Boston, MA / Harpoon Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Stout / 10.50%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin is brewed with dark brown sugar, pumpkin purée, black strap molasses, and dark malt, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg.

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Packaging:

Perhaps one of the more simple labels we’ve seen with a harpoon skewering a pumpkin leaf with a big gourd in the background and an autumnal color scheme of greens and browns.  Nothing to differentiate it from the pack – but the label is refreshingly clean from a design standpoint. – Tim

It’s really cool how they incorporated the pumpkin vines leaf into the design, while still able to showcase a pumpkin theme. Also, it frames the label and title really well, and offers a nice prop to spear with a harpoon. – Rick

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Color:  6.5

This looks more like a very dark porter than a stout. Ruby notes show in all the edges of the glass, and it lacks that ultra full bodied appearance, seeming a touch thinner than most. – Mike (Editors note – We did not know the beer started as a porter project before tasting).

A creamy tan head with similarly hued lacing tops a dark espresso colored body with an amber glow towards the bottom of the glass.  The liquid is visually thinner in motion than its dark coloring lets on but in the realm of carbonation it is fairly still. – Brittney

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

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Aroma:  7

The nose is nice. It has a spiced rum quality of treacle and nutmeg. The roasted malt isn’t shouting at me, but it is there in the form of black coffee leanings. – Mike

The aroma isn’t overpowering, yet it still retains some complexity. A dry cacao nib presence is apparent on the nose mixed with notes of cinnamon and caramelized molasses. Somehow, all these flavors bring banana nut bread to mind almost immediately and now I’m salivating over this beer. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Mouth feel:  6

Thick and full bodied.  Soft with a velvet hand, and just a hint of carbonation on the tongue. – Tim

The carbonation of this beer is more prevalent and active than it looks, although the body is still pretty light and thin for a stout. The liquid seems to fall away in your mouth. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  7

There is a bit of a hefeweizen a banana note in here along with malty bread notes. The clove, admittedly, is probably just from the clove. It tastes like someone at Chiquita made pumpkin bread, and you bought it to accompany your iced latte. – Mike

Dark chocolate malts, burnt sugar and black strap molasses, clove, ginger and allspice all present themselves early with cinnamon on the back end.  The pumpkin is rich and caramelized, vanilla and almond notes and more bananas on the close.  This is a complex stout, with a lot of competing flavors that don’t always manage pure harmony – likely a symptom of brewing separate ales and then combining them. – Tim

Much like the aroma, your first taste has a bit of a fruity quality to it and then the roasted quality really opens up. This is where you can find a bit of a malt and cocoa note.  Eventually the very sweet molasses and brown sugar take over closing with a small smattering of pumpkin and cinnamon. – Brittney

Lots of spices to contend with here, but no single one seems too dominant, keeping the flavor profile a bit complex. They combine well with a flair of pumpkin and give this brew a nice fruity nature. Chocolate notes are subtly noticeable as well and help with a nice finish. – Rick

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

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Finish:  6.5

Long and bitter, perhaps even a bit too bitter, super dark chocolate and coffee notes on the finish along with more cloves and bananas. – Tim

The finish is alllll coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate. Like a Mexican ice cream frappe. The alcohol does have a bit of astringency in the mouth once the body eeks away. – Mike

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

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Flavor balance:  6

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

For all of the spices that are supposed to be featured I feel like this should be a lot more spice forward. That being said it is still leaning towards a spice dominant score because I can only find very tiny hints of the pumpkin. – Brittney

The depth of flavor is to be commending but the pumpkin—courtesy of a puree—is very much overtaken by the molasses and the spice. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

It’s on the sweeter end almost becoming too cloying, but the finish steps up and dries up the palate nicely. – Rick

This beer is very sweet. When molasses and brown sugar are listed on the bottle there is little room for anything but sweetness. – Brittney

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

There is a lot going on here, but it’s right up my alley with just the right amount of complexity. The stout aspect is really nice and the pumpkin flourishes just take it to another level. – Rick

The alcohol hit is a little bit of an ass kicker, especially since it doesn’t do a great job of hiding. While I enjoyed this a lot more than Harpoon’s UFO pumpkin offering, they still have some work to do. That said, I definitely give them credit for forward process, and a single serving is enjoyable to me. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Overall:  6.50

M- 5.75 / T- 7.25 / B- 6.08 / R- 7.00

Pumpkinator – St. Arnold Brewing Company

St Arnold

While I don’t think any of us here at the GPBR are particularly religious, it’s hard to contest that we might be a little more inclined if our local bishop was a miracle worker with a mash rake. Arnold of Soissons (or Arnulf of Oudenberg depending on certain literary-historical versions and embellishments) was supposedly one such holy man. The patron saint of Hop-pickers, brewers, and bartenders, Arnold took many opportunities to shun titles, only to be let back into them before settling down to retire and found his own brewery / abbey. We can’t personally attest to all of the miracles and stories time has attributed to the man behind the saint, but historians generally agree that this brewer did a lot of good for the city of Oudenberg by encouraging the peasants to drink beer, thus providing a boil sterilized, pathogen free source of nourishment and hydration for all. To this day he is honored with festivals, and the famous parade in Brussels “Day of Beer”, so, all in all, today’s brewery has chosen wisely in adopting his moniker for their Texas based craft beer branding.

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Name:  Pumpkinator

Place of Origin / Brewer: Houston, TX / St. Arnold Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Stout / 10%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Originally released in 2009 as Divine Reserve No. 9, St. Arnold is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed with pale 2 row, caramel, and black malts. Joining the mix is pumpkin, molasses, brow sugar, and spices, along with a cascade and liberty hops. It took silver in the 2012 World Beer Cup for style and has the distinction of being St. Arnold’s most expensive beer to brew.

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Packaging:

Saint Arnold handles a sudsy mug of beer as he gestures to a star in a haunted night sky that is oddly enough in the shape of the great state of Texas. – Brittney

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Color:  7

This beer is black as night with a toasted tan head and floating yeast sediment. Once the head dwindles on we are left with picturesque thin lacing that sticks around. – Brittney

Not quite impenetrable darkness (I can see a touch of light on top when I raise the glass) and a halo of ivory. Is this a sinner or saint? – Mike

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

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Aroma:  6.5

Smoky roasted dark malt with sweet cinnamon and cumin on the nose – it rather reminds me of a chilly Thanksgiving spent with my Aunt and Uncle in Mobile, chopping wood for the fire and gorging myself on yams and pumpkin pie. – Tim

If smooth had an aroma I would say that it is this.  A good bit of cream and then cinnamon, cinnamon, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Very spice forward. – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 4.5

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Mouth feel:  7

It’s not motor oil, but it is nicely viscous. A touch of the ABV shoes through, but it has enough spine to stand up to the devil himself. – Mike

This is a big body beer with a lush, soft, creamy mouth-feel and mild carbonation.  It’s an imperial stout all the way. – Tim

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 6

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Tasting notes:  6.5

Saigon cinnamon, nice allspice, and sugared pumpkin forward, slowly melting away into bitter spice and smoke with a big hit of cocoa. Kinda like the terminator, minus the chocolate. – Mike

Bare with me here for a moment, this Stout seriously tastes just like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal—and I mean that in the best possible “stay up all night, watching old movies, eating it right out of the box” kinda way.   The addition of light cocoa notes and heat from the high ABV make this a beer for sipping, it’s intense, and maybe even a touch cloying from the sweetness, but the profile really opens up when the temperature raises a little. – Tim

Initially this tastes just like a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch. No kidding. It’s malty, bready, milky and then all cinnamon and brown sugar. As it warms you get just the smallest bit of pumpkin sweetness and then more spices at the end. – Brittney

It’s a nice light stout with some chocolaty notes. The addition of sweet pumpkin flavor just makes it that much better. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 6

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Finish:  6

The bitterness comes out to play big time here with dark malt, chocolate roast like 97% cacao, and a nice imperial funk that would make a Czar proud. – Mike

There’s a cinnamon and alcohol mixture that is dominating here giving this brew a really hot finish. It’s overwhelming, and I’m reminded of red hot candies mixed with coffee. Except this coffee flavor is like hour old coffee. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance:  6.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

If you close your eyes and focus on the taste of pumpkin you can find it.  For the most part this is a very spice heavy beer. – Brittney

The spicing is in your face, and slightly heavy handed. The pumpkin flavor is decent, but it seems to be overshadowed here by cinnamon, nutmeg, and perhaps molasses. – Rick

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

It’s sweet in body, with decided breakfast cereal overtones but dry on the finish from the cinnamon and the ABV.  The issue is, it’s just a touch too sweet and just a touch too dry at times during the drinking process. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. – Tim

I am impressed with the s balance in this stout. The brew starts out sweet, and as it makes its way over the tongue, it finishes with a nice dryness. – Rick

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

         Multiple Drinkability?  6

If you’ve got a hankering for a dark, malty, actually taste the pumpkin brew the size of Texas, I reckon you can put a few rounds of this heavenly hell-beast away. – Mike

Definitely more of a dessert beer can’t say with certainty that this one is a prime candidate for a revisit, the High ABV and what becomes a somewhat monotonous flavor profile makes the original bottle more than enough for one sitting.  It’s solid, but I prefer my Imperial Stouts to have a broader range. – Tim

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

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Overall:  6.58

M- 7.41 / T- 6.67 / B- 6.50 / R- 5.67

T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

treat1 WEB

Today sounds Round Two of our way, way up there beer double feature, and it’s a doozy. Sure to keep you warm on any winter night, (or spring, summer, and fall if you happen to be in Alaska), this Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter scored in spades with us, and to anyone who knows how much we tend to disagree, that should mean something. So raise a glass to the season, and take a solid draught of this black as the devil’s heart concoction. If you can find some, that is.

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Name:  T.R.E.A.T. (The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment)

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

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter / 7.8%

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.

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Packaging:

A wicked pumpkin king sits defiantly in front of the wrought iron gates of his spooky house on the hill while stars and lightning bolts illuminate the blackened sky behind him.  TREAT screams of a whimsical Halloween ale – right down to the tombstone proclamation decreeing this brew an Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter!   Have four simple words ever sounded so good strung together? – Tim

Very playful label, just like their Trickster. Cartoon style art with a colorful character of a pumpkin presenting a tombstone with what appears to be a haunted mansion at the top of the hill in the background. It’s cute. – Rick

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Color:  8

Black as midnight (if you don’t live in Alaska), with just the slightest of ruby hues and a head that’s off white enough that you don’t want to know what kind of snow it is. – Mike

This is a great pitch black fully opaque porter. It’s so dark, and I love it. The super light coffee colored head disappears quickly, but make for a delicious looking brew. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  7.5

Smells of espresso, bitter chocolate, and malt. There is also a faint aroma of a molasses and a black strap rum quality towards then end of the scent. – Brittney

Dark, Dark bitter chocolate and roasted malt. We’re close to stout territory here. No sign of pumpkin or spice, but vanilla is making it’s way through the mix. Mouthwatering, none the less. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

A surprisingly assertive carbonation level for a porter, which brings forth an interesting contrast–one that allows the fuller medium bodied nature of the beer to bounce more freely on the tongue.  Intriguing. – Tim

Considering the darkness and depth of the color of this beer the medium body is thinner than I expected also there is a surprising amount of carbonation.  I expected thick still and syrupy and got medium bodied and active. I guess it is a porter after all. – Brittney

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

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Tasting notes:  8.5

Sweet cinnamon, pumpkin, and chocolate peanut butter fudge. Like grandma forgot that Reese’s weren’t an ingredient in pumpkin pie, and served it up with Hershey’s syrup on top. Awesome roasty goodness. – Mike

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. – Tim

Quite bitter at first taste, this beer then mellows to slightly smooth and slick and all the flavors of the nose arrive with bitter chocolate, espresso, sweet molasses and a surprising presence of cinnamon. – Brittney

A very well balanced brew indeed. Cocoa nibs, a touch of clove, and ripe pumpkins all build upon the great sweetness that holds this brew together. – Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

Long and boozy, bitter and sweet but never bittersweet.  The carry over spice from cinnamon and clove linger but the most prominent note on the close is chocolate and coffee. – Tim

The pumpkin shines here with almost a smoky quality to the back end. It is dry on the finish, but a tad sweeter than I had expected. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 6.5 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

 

We are quite in check here. Though the spicing is subtle, it accentuates the beer, rather than defining it. – Mike

Complex and challenging, the pumpkin is overshadowed by the bold nature of the beer, the chocolate malts while imparting some notes in the body and bouquet were not distinct enough for a definitive “chocolate porter”.  But overall this is still a pretty great beer. – Tim

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

Slick and sweet; the bitterness of the chocolate and the finish are not enough to contend with the fact that this is leaning towards the sweet side – Brittney

It leans sweet, but the dryness helps reel it all back in. Its not cloying either, which is something that had me worried early on. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

I love pumpkin ales, and chocolate porters / stouts. This is an insane beer that could be a dessert for any holiday meal. And the appetizer, aperitif, and courses… – Mike

This beer is fun and unique enough to have as a part of a tasting flight to show some of the differences you can present a pumpkin beer, but I don’t think I would have more than one. – Brittney

This is awesome for an imperial porter, and one of my favorite pumpkin beers so far. I would try to drink as many as I could get my hands on. – Rick

Strong and Robust, I think a session of this beer would not only blow my plate apart, it would likely leave me in a coma that might last as long as the midnight sun itself.  Still, I’d go another round with this treat any day.  – Tim

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 9

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Overall:  7.75

M- 8.83 / T- 7.67 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.50

treat2 WEB

Dark O’ The Moon – Elysian Brewing Company

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for things of a lupine persuasion, or those of the stouter end of the ale spectrum. So it’s not difficult to discern that, in my household at least, Elysian has a winner here. Hope you all are able to get your hands on some of this before it’s gone. It’s certainly kid tested, wolf approved. Happy Halloween to everyone, and stay safe this evening. We’ll leave it to you whether or not to call out of work in the A.M. – Mike

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Name:  Dark O’ The Moon

Place of Origin / Brewer: Washington, USA / Elysian Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Stout / 6.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Dark O’ the Moon is a slightly smoky stout brewed with Great Western pale, Crisp 77° Crystal, Munich, Cara-Vienne, roasted, chocolate and Special B malts, bittered with Magnum hops ,and finished with Saaz hops and crushed cinnamon. Pumpkin is added in the mash, boil, and fermenter.

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Packaging:

Dude, this label art is insane! A collision course sized harvest moon headed directly for earth and a nasty looking skull faced lycanthrope. This needs to be the reissue album cover for Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon”. – Mike

A howling werewolf silhouette’s the front of a full harvest moon. Elysian tends to always give a little creepiness to their labels.  I like it.  – Brittney

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Color:  8.5

Pours up blacker than my twisted soul with some yeast flecks dancing in the glass–which was similar to Elysian’s Great Pumpkin Ale.  The head is the color of nice Café con leche that I anticipated would hold on longer than it did.  Still it settled into a nice, stout-styled ring and left a bit of lacing for good measure.  – Tim

Almost perfect. I dig the blackness of this stout and love the bits of sediment. The roasted bone brown head is awesome. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9.5

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Aroma:  7

The nose is dizzy with dark chocolate malts, burnt caramel and charred pumpkin offset against a smoky darkness with notes of tobacco.  – Tim

You can smell the earthy, malty thickness in the aroma right away with notes of cinnamon and vegetal pumpkin following closely behind. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

The roast malt smokiness lingers on the tongue. It’s smooth and viscous – definitively a full bodied stout. – Rick

Velvety and luscious on the tongue with a gentle carbonation and a surprisingly medium- full body, it coats and goes down super smooth. – Tim

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

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Tasting notes:  7.5

This is a fantastic mouth dominating stout. It’s think and has a huge presence. Pumpkin? Not a ton, but there’s a touch of bubblegum and cinnamon that might be the final screaming breath of one before it succumbed to the smoke and drowned in inky depths. – Mike

Bitter and malty with rich notes of chocolate, caramel, coffee and dry dark fruit (raisins/prunes).  Pumpkin is masked more in the body than it was in the nose, but the spices actually start to come though here with the primary scent being cinnamon.   Rich but not as complex as I would have liked, it has all the earmarks of a more American styled-stout like Bells or Left-Hand.  Very drinkable. – Tim

Lots of bready, yeasty flavor up front with a very roasted malty base.  Hints of pumpkin and chocolate peek through here and there with smatterings of cinnamon and nutmeg. There is also a slight bitterness towards the end. – Brittney

Great roasted malt flavor shines while being sweetened by the pumpkin and cinnamon. Maybe a note of clove, but probably just the nuttiness of seeds and a dark chocolate profile. – Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

The greatest part about stouts is the finish and this is no exception. Chocolatey and nutty with a pumpkin body, this one’s a real treat. – Rick

This is where the last desperate gasp of pumpkin and spice emerge in a brief sweetness along with lasting dark chocolate java notes. – Mike

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

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

For a stout, I give them all the credit in the world for showcasing pumpkin and spice, and by blending them into the dark chocolate and coffee profiles that are almost always overpowering, in a way that was actually discernible. – Tim

Malts dominate here, but there’s a nice interplay between the pumpkin and a nutty cinnamon. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 8 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

There’s actually a surprising sweet burst to this end, complimented nicely by the long and bitter dark chocolate / cinnamon exit. – Mike

The mouth feel and flavor tends towards the sweeter side.  The bitterness of the finish and touch of alcohol tends towards the dryer side. – Brittney

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  8

I love a good stout, and this one feels festive. I’m curious to make this into the ultimate Sleepy Hollow, the quintessential Halloween beer cocktail. – Mike

Of the darker pumpkin beers we’ve had, most have failed to really capture the pumpkin essence.  For me, Elysian are really at the top of their game here and this beer shows a deft hand.  I’d gladly drink another–and 6.5% ABV, I wouldn’t even be worried about a second bottle in a session. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 6 / R- 8

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Overall:  7.5

M- 8.33 / T- 7.75 / B- 6.42 / R-  8.00

Redhook Pumpkin Porter – Redhook Brewery

Name:  Redhook Pumpkin Porter

Place of Origin / Brewer: New Hampshire, USA / Redhook Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Porter / 5.8%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Pureed pumpkin, light chocolate, munich, and caramel malts, roasted wheat, oats, and local malted barley come together in this dark draught, before it is light hopped with northern brewers hops. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are added during brewing, and maple syrup is added during fermentation.  It’s also worth noting that this is the fifth entry in their Brewery Backyard series.

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Packaging: Non-applicable. This sucker is only available on draft at the breweries Cataqua Pub in Portsmouth, NH and a few select north-eastern bars. (Unless you have a sweet blog and get a special bottling. Ba-zing!)

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Color:  7.5

Stout black, but if I hold it to the light it glows a ghostly amber. I have to say, the bold appearance of this brew makes me suspect that it has a bold character to it’s body. A vigorous pour will allow for a thick frothy cream colored head, and the lacing is pretty impressive, clinging to the glass the whole time. – Rick

As I poured it was almost like pouring a cola.  As the glass filled the color settled to a touch deeper chestnut with a slight beige head.  It’s a dark porter by color but you can still catch a glimpse of a trail or two of carbonation escaping to the top – Brittney

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

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Aroma:  7.5

Earthy and robust with nutmeg and cinnamon in the nose, the spices are fairly pronounced giving me the feeling that looks had best not deceive me, and this better be a pretty rich beer if it’s going to hold up to the fragrance wafting off the head. – Tim

The smell is promising.  In a season that has been shall we say ‘unique’ in our usual definition of pumpkin beer, I really get the pumpkin and spices.  The only thing that sticks out as slightly different is a touch of a maple and caramel.  So far Red Hook is staying with the autumn spirit and I’m a fan. – Brittney

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

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Mouth feel:  6

A sizzling fizzy tingle that wraps the tongue in tiny bubbles. Medium bodied and avoiding any syrupy plaguing aspects.  I do wish we could have tried this one on tap, if only to get a bit more of a creamy nitro smoothness. – Mike

Lush and smooth, it coats the tongue.  Not so full bodied that I feel like have to think hard before I can swallow it, but definitely high on the fullness scale. It’s such a smooth beer, with just a hint of carbonation, that I fondly recall youthful efforts to drink certain other stouts/porters by leaving as few rings as possible on the glass. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 5

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Tasting notes:  7

An immense burst of pumpkin and cherry cola, the cinnamon becomes much more noticeable here. The maple sweetness is very much subdued, and to it’s credit, keeps this beer firmly in the porter category, allowing it to be a bit of passing sweet, rather than liquid pie spice. – Mike

There are a lot of flavors going on here all at once.  This makes a great tasting beer but it is sort of hard to grasp them all. The pumpkin and nutmeg are the front-runners, the caramel provides a smooth base and the cinnamon is sprinkled throughout.  I was worried that the maple could be an overly dominant flavor when brought into the equation but it just subtle enough to not overshadow. – Brittney

This beverage has a good pumpkin presence with a nice cinnamon spicing. Further inspection reveals a nice smoky body with a hint of clove and cocoa mingling about. About half way through the glass something strange happens to the flavor, kind of developing a cola flavor on the finish. Very strange, but not awful. – Rick

Concentrated notes of dark, caramel malts and a chocolate hit right off the bat. Roasted (almost caramelized) pumpkin accents a breath of cinnamon which is given the most prominent spice position in the body.  Just a hit of hoppy bitterness comes out on the end—making for a very complex overall experience. – Tim

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

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Finish:  7

Roasted nuts in a brown sugar glaze gives way to a slightly bitter wash that leaves the tongue feeling a bit dry, and begging for that next sip. – Mike

It’s got a great clean finish (I would have anticipated something much longer) with outstanding notes of coffee and ginger.  – Tim

I like the smoothness of this beer, but it tends to have a watery body that is lighter than expected. The finish is also where this bizarre hint of Dr. Pepper reveals itself, which wasn’t apparent in the beginning of the tasting. It just kind of developed about half way through. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 5.5

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

Very well balanced, almost too balanced for my liking.  I’m more of a frolic through the autumn fields grabbing one flavor at a time and appreciating it for all of its nuances before moving on to the next. This one puts you on the Autobahn and wishes you well. – Brittney

This is such a complex porter—with big bold flavors competing— it’s a testament that nothing really overpowers the beer. The spices in the nose are echoed to a lesser degree in the body and change up on the finish—while the overall essence of roasted pumpkins stays in harmony throughout.  It’s really a very nicely balanced beer. – Tim

Well in check, I’d go as far to say the real achievement in this brew is that nothing hides. Each element described is definitive, and unmasked by it’s other components. It’s like surround sound for your tongue. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

I like the light smoky body of this beer. The cocoa presence along with cinnamon and a little pumpkin really build upon the smokiness and create a nice balance. – Rick

I enjoyed the touch of sweet and finish of bitter in this beer a lot. Very polarized in it’s approach, it offers a unique experience that reminds me a bit of a pumpkin cola up front, and like a pumpkin coffee — black– on the backend. – Mike

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7.5

I’m not going bananas over this beer, but it is up my alley. It definitely has some unique flavorings happening which makes it a little more interesting. – Rick

There are a lot of beers that I’d pair with food, but not a ton that I think would rock against a big bad Thanksgiving feast.  With the swagger on display here, I’d put this bad boy up against my mama’s gut buster spread any day.  And, you can imagine it’d take at least 2 or 3 of theses to get though all those carbs. – Tim

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

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Overall:  7.08

M- 7.25 / T- 7.50 / B- 7.42 / R- 6.33