Posts tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Punkuccino – Elysian Brewing Company

Elysian Punkachino

 

The fine folks over at Elysian brewing, if not the de-facto kinds of pumpkin beer, certainly are one of it’s most prolific producers. Between their ever expanding seasonal releases, extremely creative recipe twists, and an ever expanding pumpkin beer festival now entering it’s 10th year running with over 70 unique pumpkin brews, it’s hard to deny that these folks are as serious about pumpkin as we are. Obviously, we were more than hyped to dive into this years new mass bottle release offering (and extremely sad when we saw all the fest only beers we’d be missing on their website)!

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Name: Punkuccino

Place of Origin / Brewer: Seattle, WA / Elysian Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%: Coffee Pumpkin Ale / 5.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Punkuccino is lightly bittered with German Northern Brewer hops, and features a mash bill of Pale, Brown, Biscuit, C-77, Crystal, Chocolate, and Kiln coffee malt. It then receives a shot of Stumptown coffee toddy, lactose, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and follows Elysian’s trademark method of adding pumpkin to the mash, kettle, and fermenter.

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Packaging:

Elysian continues its winning streak for delivering fantastically spooky graphics to accompany their barrage of Pumpkin beers. Considering how many they produce it’s amazing they are all are so damn good, while other breweries that only manage one Halloween ale, can’t seem to get a solid label on the bottle at all. – Tim

Very cool and festive. I love the art for this one. It’s playful and bold and really sells the brand as well. – Rick

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Color: 8

Porter -like darkness with nut brown and ruby notes, and just a smidge less opacity, all crowned by a latte art worthy head. – Brittney

Significantly darker than to be expected for a traditional ale, bordering on a crossover between a hearty brown ale and a porter–perhaps a not-so-subtle reminder of the coffee appeal of this ale. – Tim

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

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Aroma: 9

This smells amazing; everything smells fresh! The coffee could have just been ground, the cinnamon and nutmeg recently grated. It’s delicate and balanced and extremely appetizing. – Brittney

Cinnamon Dolce cold brew meets toast. Giant malt breadiness. I really get the biscuit malt here and it plays very nicely with the cinnamon. So much so I want to go make cinnamon toast now. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel: 7.5

The mouthfeel on this ale is comparable to a full bodied stout. It’s super smooth, somewhat creamy, and just bursting with flavor. – Rick

The addition of lactose gives the ale a silky smooth body with soft carbonation, we are bordering on Latte levels here. – Tim

Medium to full bodied and very creamy. Almost too creamy in my opinion. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 4 / R- 8

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Tasting notes: 9

Move over corporate spice latte, this is my new favorite hangover drink. The squashed based breakfast food you never knew you wanted. Pumpkin, cinnamon, and cafe latte blended against a pancake batter and fresh biscuit body. It’s epic. – Mike

The pumpkin presence is subtle in the body with toasty roasted malts and coffee providing a mild bittering agent. The cinnamon in the nose is pronounced in the body along with a nice medley of pie spice. The fullness of the ale verges on stout levels of creaminess making this the closest any ale has ever come to replicating a pumpkin spiced latte. Elysian has consistently crafted superior pumpkin ales, however due to my near obsessive compulsion for pumpkin coffee, this may stand as their single greatest alcoholic achievement. – Tim

Cold brewing in the toddy helps to bring out the essence of the coffee without the bitter notes. The Chocolate notes are more cocoa, the cinnamon and nutmeg really stand out as well as the creamy coffee goodness, but I don’t really get a lot of the pumpkin. – Brittney

The cinnamon and coffee flavors are the highlights here. A nice chocolate and coffee flavor is balanced well with a full dose of cinnamon that isn’t too hot. – Rick

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

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Finish: 8

The coffee and spice are the two touches that linger the most to me in flavor. The intense creamy mouth feel would be the second. The first I’m okay with the second I could live without. It feels like I just drank a pumpkin coffee milkshake. – Brittney

This ale finishes like a rich roasted espresso. The bitter coffee is great here with the dryness of the chocolate flavor adding finesse to the back end. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 6 / R- 7.5

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Flavor balance: 9

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8.5

I’m really not sure how they pulled this one off but Elysian knocks it out of the park here. Balancing coffee with spice and having pumpkin show at all, let alone notably, is quite an achievement. To have them play this well together is a downright miracle. – Mike

I really can’t find any fault whatsoever in this from the perspective of pumpkin pie. The title promises a Pumpkin Pie Cappuccino and (even though it’s probably the only one in existence) this is as good as it gets. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 10 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

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  • Sweet / Dry balance: 9.5

Sweet pumpkin and spice up front with a touch of bitter black and hops on the back. This could have easily been a syrupy mess of a palate wrecker, but we’re far in the clear here. It’s damn near flawless, unless of course, you hate coffee. – Mike

The way the coffee and chocolate flavors work together to balance this beer is excellent. I’m really impressed. – Rick

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

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  • Multiple Drinkability? 9.5

When it comes to the morning after a night of hard drinking, sometimes your stomach just needs a light roast coffee and soon after, a lighter brew to get back in the game. Punkuccino offers both in spades, and offers a refreshing touch for intense, heavy coffee imperials, bringing all your favorite flavors to an extremely sessionable brew. This should definitely please seasoned beardo’s and sorority sisters alike. – Mike

This beer is so good you’ll be surprised that it’s only 5% ABV. Full flavored, full bodied, a good pumpkin flavor, and with a low ABV it’s not too easy to avoid drinking them all. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 9.5 / B- 9 / R- 10

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Overall: 8.42

M- 9.33 / T- 9.08 / B- 7.25 / R- 8.42

Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.

Almanac Scaled Edit

 

One of the styles we don’t see to often in the pumpkin category is the elusive, and often divisive, sour ale. Leave it to the good folks at Almanac Beer Co to follow up last years (and coincidentally one of our highest ranking beers to date) Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine with a new entry, Dark Pumpkin Sour. Though they share the same humble roots, gorgeous artwork, and barrel times, they couldn’t stylistically be any further apart! So, if you can find one, crack it open and compare notes with us, and if you can’t, you’re probably going to want to find one – so keep trying!

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Name: Dark Pumpkin Sour (Farm to Barrel Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Sam Jose, CA / Almanac Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Dark Pumpkin Sour / 7.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Designed as a counterpoint to the sweet and savory items on a fall dinner table, Dark Pumpkin Sour is brewed with caramelized organic heirloom pumpkins from Bodega Bay, pie spices, and then aged in used red wine barrels for a year.

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Packaging:

Almanac should probably win the award for the most classically inspired bottling each year, with their wood carved motifs and calligraphic logo they inspire an old world appeal that really carries the legacy of colonial pumpkin ales into the new millennium. – Tim

There isn’t a lot more to say about Almanac’s design than it is simply a work of art. I would seriously hang both their iconic woodcut tree logo and the hop bine entwined “Farm to Barrel” designs on my wall proudly. They must really like it too because there isn’t a whole lot differentiating this from their other Pumpkin Barleywine offering appearance wise. A quick color change from orange to deep turquoise on the inch wide bottom label is the only major difference. But then, why fix what ain’t broke?

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Color: 7.5

Rich, deep mahogany and plum with glinting copper highlights where the light happens to pierce the shadows, and a tan head that fights to stick around. Murky like a bog. – Brittney

This sour ale pours a fluffy light brown head that billows over an opaque body. Root beer brown with some earthy tones. Looks quite impressive. – Rick

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

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Aroma: 7.5

Pronounced Brettanomyces barnyard funk, cereal grains, pinot noir grapes, and dark fruits, meet a smatter of perfumed wood and slight porter-y roast. – Mike

This definitely has a great barrel aged nose to it, imparting some nice woody elements amongst a musty roasted character. Red wine is another bold aroma that starts sour, but has an enticing sweetness to it, and I can’t wait to try this beer. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

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Mouth feel: 7.5

A study in contradiction, the dark voluptuous body belies a crisp highly acidic sour ale, that explodes on the tongue causing your taste buds to detonate with the shock of an atomic warhead. – Tim

Instant pucker on the first sip. It’s like a barrage on the senses, but it’s a light sour tartness that envelopes the tongue while a wisp of sweetness tickles it. Interestingly, the medium body contains a full flavored punch that’s easy to drink. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

Intense citric acidity with pepper, wood, and a zesty spice on the fringes. As it warms dry, dark wine qualities appear alongside notes of pine, vegetal summer squash, and touches of caramel and cinnamon. – Mike

Crisp and bright, the pumpkin is tamed and even lost a bit in the bright lemon pucker notes. As a complement to a thick, rich pumpkin pie with a dense homemade whipped cream this ale would cut right though the gluttony and refresh your palate between each bite. Hint of allspice carries the ale slightly into the holiday season, but as a drink designed to complement a dessert rather than replicate, it gets high marks for contrasting tendencies. – Tim

There are moments where the pumpkin is fighting to show through, but for the most part all I’m tasting is sour. As it warms the spices begin to appear along side roasted pumpkin seed and wood and I can see why they recommend having this with pie. It needs the savory sweetness as an accompaniment. – Brittney

It’s like a sweet and sour pumpkin with a light watery red wine swirl. Great compliments, but is very atypical for a pumpkin offering. As it warms towards room temperature, the beer mellows and I’m starting to discover more elements of sweet cinnamon within the oaken melange. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9

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Finish: 8

The finish is really were you get most of the flavor. The acidity begins to withdraw and pumpkin really comes through, almost as an afterthought. Roast and touches of caramel qualities as well as some woody vanilla. – Brittney

Blade mace and resinous cedar wood give way to a long, long, tart decay that settles out with echoes of the fork full of pumpkin pie that I never actually ate. Why, oh why do you elude me you devious phantom pastry? – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 7

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

While the pumpkin takes a backseat to the sour’s peacock levels of non-subtlety, the notes on the nose and the color imparted in the ale are not to be missed. The spice on display is mainly a function of the wine barrel aging and as such adds tremendous depth to proceedings. – Tim

The pumpkin here is less of a defined quality than it is a referential. This brew begs to be set alongside your dessert course at Thanksgiving, and the spice is far more, but still subtly, notable. – Mike

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

 

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Tart, dry, and definitively sour. How dry and sour? The balance to the cabernet-sour is roast and wood. Sucka’s dryyy. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 8

 

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

This is a fantastic and complex sour. I only wish there was more to get better acquainted with. – Rick

Cutting though a turkey weighted, gravy laden and desert friendly feast, this ale would do well at your next family gathering. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 7.5

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Overall: 7.67

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

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

Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing

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First of all, we’d sincerely like to grant you our thanks and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and whatever holidays you might celebrate in the coming months. Rounding out our third year of reviews you’ve made us popular enough that we are buried in beers to cover, and since they’re becoming more and more scare on the shelves, we have opted to cover them in advance for next years season in hopes of bringing you more consistent coverage and getting you a lot more info early on as these brews start to hit the shelves.

Today’s entry is not particularly concerning in that regard as, if you don’t have it by now, you’re probably not going to get it until next year. But we did feel it’s coveted status would be a great entry for today, and we thank the almighty that we got our hands on a bottle. So gather round your friends and family, or maybe just a good meal and a good brew, and dig into one last seasonal review. From us to you, we give our thanks.

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Name: Good Gourd Almighty

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tampa, Florida / Cigar City Brewing

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

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.

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Packaging:

This is a special release barrel aged treatment beer, so the label is a bit derivative of it’s father brew, Good Gourd. It’s got some nice dark wood and autumn hues though, which certainly infer the bolder wood flavors I expect from this glass. – Mike

It’s not a far cry removed from the traditional Good Gourd packaging, but the “almighty’ stands out in a big way to help avoid confusion, settled against a backdrop of fall leaves, that even though CCB is in Tampa and probably never sees any ‘color’ still sets a festive mood. – Tim

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Color: 7

The way this beer sits in the glass demands omniscience. Fully opaque burnt caramel has fringes of an amber glow, with slim to no head. It is awesome and unassuming. – Rick

Cloudy brownish orange, with a perfect circle of thin semi sticky lacing and little to no carbonation. It looks like there is almost a freeze frame of sediment floating in the glass. – Brittney

M – 6.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 8.5

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Aroma:  7.5

A heady nose with massive rum notes, the likes of which I haven’t seen since we cracked the Avery Rumpkin back in 2011. Oak and vanilla finish out the bouquet which displays no remaining signs of pumpkin or spice.  It smells intense and I’m not anticipating a little ‘shiver me timbers’ to go with my rum and pumpkin ale. – Tim

Sweet and creamy caramel notes mingle with some intense buttery fruit flavors. This is getting pretty complex already. It has a hot aroma that singes with rum at the nose, rounding out dry and oaken for the finish. – Rick

M – 7.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 9

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Mouth feel: 8

Slick and thick, medium bodied with just enough carbonation to keep you interested without an overwhelming presence of it. – Brittney

Some time in the barrel actual seems to have lightened up the body here, moving away from the syrupy origin of Good Gourd, and becoming much more smooth bodied with a light carbonation tingle. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes: 8.5

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. – Mike

Welcome back pumpkin, what is lost on the nose is prevalent in the body, blending together with vanilla and cinnamon to deliver a drunken pumpkin pie extravaganza. With buttery crust notes and big malt flavors, the rum is held in check (but only barely) until the exhale permeates all my senses with full bodied flavor.  Pass the whip cream. – Tim

For as strong and intense as it smells it’s actually rather smooth in flavor.  You can tell that it’s got a Good Gourd foundation, but you can’t help but focus on the rum barrel aged accent and the alcohol. – Brittney

Based on the aroma alone I expected this to be super hot and over the top. It actually brings out complex flavors that really add to the experience going above and beyond the senses. It’s really accessible while boasting tons of flavor like banana, oak, cinnamon, rum, sugar, butter, all spice, and even bits of clove. – Rick

M – 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9.5

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Finish: 8.5

The finish is all rum, but it is hardly abrasive. It reminds be heavily of Velvet Falernum. There is a lasting sweetness with a spicy nip, and a bite of citrus / lime. Definitely a Floridian pumpkin beer. A couple of these and I’ll be boarding ships. Forcibly. – Mike

The dry oak finish compliments the mouth feel so well, it removes any implication of being too hot due to a high alcohol content. There’s still a touch of heat on the back end and the rum is quite noticeable. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance: 8

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 8

The pumpkin and spices in the base beer were already mixed really well, and the fact that they still stand out after the aging is impressive. I would add that the addition of oak and rum flavors accentuate the pumpkin profile and propel this beer into it’s final form. – Rick

The interplay of the spice / malt / pumpkin / wood / and rum here is powerfully complex and very enjoyable. You can spend long minutes over each sip musing on the different flavors that seem to pop out and retract into the recesses of this glass. The only thing that keeps me from declaring it truly divine is how very forward the rum qualities are at times. It’s not an unpleasant flavor, but as the drink goes on, I begin to lose a bit of the pumpkin as a result. – Mike

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

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8.5

Quite balanced in this respect as the syrupy slickness and pumpkin tend to be sweet but the alcohol/barrel aged aspect brings the dry finish. – Brittney

Pronounced toffee like sweetness lend this ale a significant dessert aspect with only dry components coming on the close from the high ABV and the oak. – Tim

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

 

         Multiple Drinkability?  7.5

While I can appreciate treatments on beers and a bit of barrel aging, I probably wouldn’t drink much more than a glass of this. It’s got a very mellow sweetness that is well tempered by tannic acid qualities and the heat of the rum, but the intensity and alcohol makes it quite potent on the senses. – Brittney

It’s too heady and boozy to be sessionable. I’d rather drive up to some mountains, kick off my shoes and sip this sucker in a brandy snifter beside a roaring fire after a long day of snowboarding.  – Tim

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 4 / R- 10

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Overall: 7.92

M- 8.00 / T- 7.83 / B- 6.92 / R- 8.83

 

Pennslyvania Dutch “Original” Pumpkin Cream Liqueur – Dairyland Distillers Co.

penn dutch cream liqueur WEB

Name: Pennsylvania Dutch “Original’ Pumpkin Cream Liqueur

Place of Origin / Distiller:  Philadelphia, PA / Dairyland Distillers Co.

ABV: 12.5%

Specialty Prep/ Individuality:

            Unfortunately, there is not much more information floating around on this product, particularly in regard to how it is made but you can pick yourself up a bottle for $8.99 and indulge in the mystery yourself.

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The label certainly recalls the spirit of the first Germanic settlers to come stateside. A gilded and embellished golden font recalls illuminated scripture, over a  country field of corn stalks and pumpkins, nearly ripe, and awaiting loading into a wooden tuck bed. It’s a nice looking glass bottle as well, which we always appreciate the detail of in less expensive products.

Upon popping the lid, we are greeted with a very familiar smell to most country pumpkin bumpkins, that is, the classic Yankee Candle Spiced Pumpkin aroma. It may sound a touch cliché, but side by side, they are spot on. Big Hazelnut notes, along with nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon, over velvety pumpkin puree, with a bit of a charred caramel note and a Brandy sweetness.

In the glass the liqueur is an antiqued bone color, with a creamy orange hue that is just a bit paler than sherbet. It is milky and viscous on the tongue, and proves more than capable of coating your glass and your cheeks. It’s not quite as dense as a full eggnog, but it is pleasingly medium bodied, with little to no alcohol bite.

The scent is not defiant of the aroma, save for one surprise, very fruity pumpkin. This is very pumpkin forward, to our delight, and also recalls notes of candy caramel crème, a bit of the cream sweetness of eggnog, and a gentle finish of spice. Cinnamon and nutmeg sit forward foremost, but impressions of faint clove and warming cognac emerge upon the swallow.

All in all, this is an excellent offering for its style. It succeeds in escaping the mentality of “just another eggnog” and “re-purposed coffee liqueur” and steps into its own category. While it may seem like a no brainer that Pumpkin should be evident in something with “Pumpkin” in the title, we rarely see it so present as it is here. It’s a shame that there is not more information available on the origins of this bottle, as many may over look an otherwise unassuming product. But if you are a fan of this sort, take our word for it and don’t miss out.

Smoked Pumpkin Cider – Tieton Cider Works

smoked pumpkin cider copy

Today’s offering is nothing if not unique. It’s also a bit divisive across palates as well. Still,  for those with adventurous taste (and more than a little bit of a soft spot for bacon, and all things smoked), it’s hard to pass on this creative offering from Washington’s own Tieton Cider Works. And when you consider the third generation Yakima Valley / Washington State University Horticulturist credentials that come along with brewer’s Craig and Sharon Campbell share, it’s hard to suggest that they haven’t thought their creations thoroughly through.

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Name:  Smoked Pumpkin Cider

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tieton, Washington / Tieton Cider Works

Beer style / ABV%:  Smoked Cider / 6.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Made with organically grown dessert apples and American, English, and French cider varieties from Harmony Orchards, as well as  pumpkins from just up the road. The cider is then smoked over apple wood to add a unique quality of smoke and savory flavors. It is also naturally gluten-free.

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Packaging:

If Panera Bread or Whole Foods branded a cider, this is what it would look like.  As much as I’m not really of fan of that particular aesthetic, it’s a look that works.  I will say that I do enjoy the conversational description and food pairing suggestions.  – Brittney

Very classic in design. It isn’t the most exciting label, but it does the trick and right away I know this is a smoked pumpkin cider. – Rick

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Color:  6

Cloudy orange with darker rust hues as you look down the glass. It reminds me very much of a mimosa. So I think it’s pretty safe to say this is legit unfiltered pumpkin juice and apple cider, not from concentrate. – Mike

As it should, this looks like a glass full of fresh pressed cider in all of its unfiltered glory.  It is golden yellow-orange in color and pretty opaque and thick looking. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 3.5

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Aroma:  5

A sour blast of apple cider vinegar is my first thought. Carrots, blended pumpkin, and squash fill out the bouquet which is quite pleasant. There is just a slight hint of a smoky earth note on the nose. – Rick

I’m greeted with the surprisingly pungent aroma of smoke and tart fresh apples, however there is a significant note of pure alcohol that unfortunately reminds me of a bottle of isopropyl. – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 2

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Mouth feel:  6

Creamy and nicely medium bodied. There is a good weight of fruit juice, but no syrupy bog to close your throat thanks to the acidic snap. – Mike

This is thick for cider as a beer style but not necessarily for apple cider, it may be the inclusion of pumpkin or just the way Tieton brews. I would love to be able to taste one of Tieton’s more classic options in order to compare how the inclusion of pumpkin has changed the body, if at all. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 4

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Tasting notes:  7

Porcine and spicy sweet. It kind of reminds me of eating all of my breakfast at once… Or Barbeque Pumpkin Pie. This one is in a category all of it’s own and it makes me crave country fixin’s in the Smoky Mountains. This is a nice treat for a nippy, post mealtime, dusk walk with a nice pipe of the legal variety. – Mike

This is a fantastically interesting beverage, it’s far removed from what I consider to be a hard cider, and more like a true fermented rustic apple cider.  The smoke from the apple wood, the tangy note from the tannins, and vegetal elements from the pumpkin blend in a way that I would expect if I picked this up in some Western Kentucky mountain town.  We talk a lot about “artisanal” products, but rarely do we discover one that truly feels hand made. – Tim

The combination of the pumpkin and apples isn’t really working for me.  The flavors are competing too intensely for either to become the dominant flavor. I will say the smoke isn’t entirely overwhelming but firmly present, which is difficult to accomplish, and admirable. Most options that tout themselves as smoked have very little room for any other flavors. – Brittney

It’s very juice like with a nice medium body and was sweeter than expected based on the vegetal qualities of the aroma. Beets, carrots, and apples round out the flavor with a body of pumpkin. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 5.5 / R- 5.5

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Finish:  6

It finishes pretty clean, with a few more alcohol trails than I would like.  A little pucker and a little smoke carries it for a few wispy seconds, then cleans your palate off like a fine wine.  It’s a very good finish for a cider, if they could keep the ABV in check a little bit more, I think that alcohol taste would disappear right into the background. – Tim

Surprisingly subtle. The success here is the simplicity. Smoke up front, pumpkin in the middle, and a crisp apple bite on the end. It’s a great contrast to an otherwise silky drink. – Mike

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

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Flavor balance:  7

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7

The smoke is fairly traceable just on the finish and the nose, but I feel it could benefit from a little more. The pumpkin flavor is actually quite delicious once you get used to the vegetal nature of the flavor profile though. – Rick

From a cider standpoint, this bad boy is mostly apple.  But the pumpkin is in there and the smoke is deftly applied, allowing for the flavor components to dance with each other like witches around a solstice bonfire. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

A nice sweet body is complimented well by a dry finish. Not too clingy and nor does it parch my mouth. – Rick

The sweetness on the body is wonderfully curtailed on the finish, where the dryness cleans the palate in the same manner as a great wine.  I really couldn’t ask for a more skilled blend. – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 9 / B- 5 / R- 6

         Multiple Drinkability?  7

I love the idea. It’s thinking outside of the box that is keeping craft beer alive and interesting. It’s a glass of apple cider next to the bonfire after Thanksgiving dinner, but all at once is a little overwhelming for me. – Brittney

This is a remarkable and idiosyncratic concoction that just begs the mentality “You’ve got to try this”. It appeals to so many niches and breaks so many rules. It’s smoked, but not dominantly so; definitively pumpkin – sans spice; and very much a cider, but with international sensibilities. It’s damn good, and the craft stands up nicely to it’s own novelty. I’d happily have a few of these, if I didn’t feel I was denying others of the experience. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 5 / R- 6

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Overall:  6.16

M- 8.00 / T- 7.08 / B- 5.50 / R- 4.33

 

Fermentation Without Representation – Epic Brewing Co. / DC BRAU

Whether it’s Black Friday or Super Tuesday, boy do we have a beer for you. A collaboration between Epic Brewing and DC Brau, this new entry into their Exponential Series might be a limited release, but it’s worthy of the masses. A tribute to those DC residents who have no say in congress, and the Salt Lake residents that feel they can’t get out from under the thumb of a resident political power, (which yields up to a 72% markup due to sin taxes), and we’d say the inspiration is very close to home for these two brewers.

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Name:  Fermentation Without Representation

Place of Origin / Brewer: Utah, USA / Epic Brewing Co. & DC BRAU collaboration

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Porter / 8.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  300 pounds of pumpkin per 15-barrel batch (Totaling 600lbs of pumpkin puree across all batches), are added to the mash tun, the brew kettle and the fermenter, along with Melding Crystal, Chocolate, Munich and Black malts. Other ingredients include .2 pounds of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and whole cloves each, topped with about 1,000 vanilla beans that the DC Brau crew had to slice open by hand.

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Packaging:

This is a graphics intensive label done in a raw unfinished paper which adds texture and a very craft-beer vibe to the overall affair.  Each bottle is stamped with the release number—our batch was Release #5. – Tim

Despite the lack of a pumpkin on here at all, I love this name, and the label is classical and tightly executed. It sings autumn during an election year, which tends to make some people forget pumpkins exist anyway. – Mike

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Color:  8

A murky golden brown with a nice, stubborn khaki head.  The opaqueness attempts to conceal the carbonation bubbles but if you look closely they are there slowly trickling there way to the top. – Brittney

Awesome porter coloration! It’s a roasted dark brown color with a beautiful hint of caramel glowing on the edges that really sets this one apart. A thick tan head floats on top with intense slow lacing following the brew all the way down. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 9.5

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Aroma:  8

Toasted dark chocolate and vanilla marshmallow with heaps of bready malt and a hint of cinnamon. Like a pumpernickel loaf if you made it into a spiced bread pudding with caramel glaze. – Mike

Smells of rich and powerful malts, hints of fresh squash and settles into bold notes of vanilla that give the overall feeling of decadent dark chocolate & coffee ice cream. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 6

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Mouth feel:  7

This imperial porter is much lighter than expected. It’s kind of a soft feeling on the tongue. Very appealing. Maybe it’s the vanilla beans, but I detected a sweet metallic taste / feeling that I found strangely acceptable. – Rick

A touch delicate for a porter, but by no means thin. Just closer to a traditional ale than a stout. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  7.5

More of that awesome crusty dark malt, and emerging notes of cinnamon capped espresso, with rum and fruit pumpkin qualities. Not what I would have expected from the nose at all. There’s a nice floral hoppiness to it that also seems unique to this twist on the style. – Mike

Deep and rich, with waves of Vanilla, burnt sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and heat from not only the alcohol but clove and ginger as well.  This is a very assertive porter at once fighting for your attention while at the same time, allowing the well balanced array of spices to mingle on your tongue—my only concern here is that the pumpkin seems to have gone M.I.A. – Tim

Earthy and squashy throughout, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove peek out towards the finish.  Most of what was noticed in the aroma is dominant, nice bitter dark chocolate, pounds of vanilla, coffee, and malt. – Brittney

Great roasted malts with coffee and chocolate being the dominate flavors. The dark chocolate flavor acts as a great drying agent rather than over sweetening the brew. There’s just a subtle addition of pumpkin and a hint of vanilla bean to round out the sweetness. – Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

A surprisingly clean finish for the density that passes the lips initially.  The spice tends to make itself more prominent towards the end. – Brittney

As long as the Summer Solstice and bitter as the sins of man. The only cure for ending the finish is to have another sip. – Tim

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

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Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

Coffee and chocolate flavors play nice together and come to the forefront leaving the pumpkin as a subtle touch of fruity sweetness. Otherwise, the typical pumpkin spices are hard to distinguish. – Rick

There is a pretty fair balance on this one, in that, neither are really dominant but are there just enough to support the more intense flavors. Can’t say the same for the news. – Brittney

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7

Surprisingly fruity with a bitter snap. Rose and hibiscus up front, black coffee and earth on the back. The alcohol hit and never ending finish (FAAAAALLLLCCCCOOORRRR!) tend to tip it a little dryer. – Mike

It’s definitely drier than sweet, but I like that in my beers. It has a nice clean taste and a dark chocolate flavoring that helps dry the finish. – Rick

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?  6.5

At 8% ABV I’m not inclined to partake of another in one sitting. I don’t think my palate could handle it.  But, I would hit another bottle of this—perhaps one that had a touch of age on it to see if the ravages of time could tame the epic spice levels. – Tim

A great bitter drink but probably not something I would have more than one of. Which works, since it is a limited release and all. – Brittney

M- 4.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 8.5

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Overall:  7.42

M- 7.16 / T- 7.58 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.83