Posts tagged ‘vanilla’

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

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Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin (Crooked Line Series) – Uinta Brewing Company

Halloween is only a scant 15 days away, and if you’re like us, you’ve probably got a few ragers to hit in the next weekend or two.  To help accommodate your proclivities to rotten gourd punch, we’re going to be amping up our reviews to get as many halloween themed brews to ya before the holiday hits. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our updates by email, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Name:  Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin (Crooked Line Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Utah, USA / Uinta Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 10/31%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Oak Jacked is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed with Pumpkin and traditional spices (no specifics appear on the label). It’s then rested on Oak barrels to add bourbon and vanilla notes. A particularly cool aspect though, is that, along with all of Uinta’s other brews, it is brewed with 100% renewable power fed from solar and wind. There’s some great other green practices going on with this company as well, and for that, we applaud them.

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Packaging:

My favorite label to date! Finally, let’s get a local artist involved in our beer without it looking like an afterthought. Very clean in its execution, it has all the elements to help sell the beer as an oak aged pumpkin ale. Top notch. – Rick

This sucker is cranked to get you crunk. I mean, he’s pointing to the word “Jacked”. Someone call Jason Statham. – Mike

There is an old fashioned almost Steam Boat Willie-like pumpkin gracing the label on this bottle.  I love the use of the barrel image telling us so much more than just the name of the ale.  It’s cartoony and artistic without being childish. – Brittney

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Color:  8

Color me surprised, this ale pours up a crystal clear with a ruby red glow.  A thick, frothy, long-lasting, cream head provides for excellent retention and stunning lacing. – Tim

I’m loving the color on this one. It has a great color with dark copper notes that help accentuate a deep brown body. The body is pretty much completely opaque, and a vigorous pour will release a beautiful creamy head that settles to ring the glass. – Rick

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

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Aroma:  8

Tons of oak and wood firstly followed by a smoother caramel sweetness.  Not a lot of spice but just enough to let you know it’s there.  The aroma runs the gamut of earthy, savor, sweet and (a touch) of spice. – Brittney

Roast sugar pumpkins, burnt caramel, and a nice oak tannin. It smells like a reheated pumpkin pie with blackened crust. – Mike

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

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Mouth feel:  7.5

A medium bodied but rich brew that warms the mouth with a lower carbonation. – Brittney

I’m definitely reminded of the Imperial status of this ale upon the first sip. As suspected from the aroma I find a strong presence of alcohol on the tongue, but without any harsh burning. It’s a bit bubbly allowing me to explore its sweet medium body. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes:  8

Boozy and opulent with notes of vanilla and oak. Rich and chewy like carrot cake with big, bold spices.  Lots of nutmeg and clove—with dashes of cumin.  The pumpkin is broad and full with a pronounced sweetness that envelops the notable alcohol content, back-end bitterness and a slight metallic touch.  – Tim

There’s a significant alcohol presence here that, combined with oak gives it strong notes of bourbon whiskey. Did I mention I love bourbon? The spice is very subtle, and finishes on floral notes, while a malt pumpkin base provides a nice burnt pie crust character. This tastes like my midnight snack the day after thanksgiving. – Mike

First sip is dominated by alcohol and malt with some spice. This beer goes straight to your head. If it wasn’t for the malt aspect I would question if this was a beer at all.  A few more tastes and the flavors really come alive with natural vanilla, spice and oak roasted pumpkin. – Brittney

The oak barrel introduction is a nice touch, only accenting the flavor of sweet ripe pumpkins without being too woody. There are some nutty notes as well that help round out this well nuanced full bodied ale. – Rick

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

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Finish:  7.5

The. Longest. Finish. Ever.  Bitter and oaky and surprisingly semi-dry.  I certainly anticipated a sweeter conclusion to this ale, but the oak really shines here and helps balance it out.  But…seriously…I can still taste this beer. – Tim

It stings going down, that’s for sure. I like how the dryness on the back end helps it go down smooth. Here’s where it gets spicy and woody, but I can’t wait to take another sip. – Rick

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

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Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

This malty pumpkin approach combined with the ABV lends itself to dunkel / dubbel territory, while the barrel aging tones the spice down to a pleasant detail. – Mike

Since this beer has such impressive complexity, it goes without saying (but I will) that the pumpkin to spice balance is pretty amazing.  What you miss from the pumpkin in the nose, you get in the body, but the ale is so imbued overall with the barrage of other components that had the brew master not been on top of his game, it might have ended up a muddled mess.  – Tim

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

This ale has a great malty sweetness and a great dry finish so the cloying aftertaste isn’t too noticeable. – Rick

This is a very well leveled bottle, and the giant ABV hides superbly in its character. There’s touches of bourbon sweetness, and the dry wood finish on the back end, that’s a bit like sucking the beer right from the oak stave. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 7.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7

The richness of the oak and malt are very tasty for one round but, at 10 + %, I’m probably not going for another. – Brittney

This beer is strong and tasty, but could I have more than one of these per sitting? Probably not. I would definitely revisit it though, because it’s a great pumpkin ale. – Rick

At a 10.31% ABV I don’t think I could drink another one of these in a sitting.  However, the ale is fascinating and intricate that I would be really interested to see what buying a few bottles and cellaring them would do. – Tim

M- 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

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Overall:  7.67

M- 8.42 / T- 7.92 / B- 7.25 / R- 7.08

Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing Co.

Hope you all had a great Halloween! Don’t forget to send in your pumpkin pics to greatpumpkinbeerreview@gmail.com for your shot at a free shirt!

Now then, many of you know November first as the beginning of the festival Dios de Los Muertos, but there is another tradition that is less familiar to those of us in the states. In the Gaelic tradition, this time signals a period where everything left in the fields after the harvest is “puka”, or fairy blasted, and thereby considered inedible. Not coincidentally, this is also the one time of year where the faery goblin spirit Pủca actually acts a civil beast, primarily because it comes in to finish off the what is left of the crops in tribute. This may sound vaguely familiar to what occurred on your door step last night…

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Name:  Pumking

Place of Origin / Brewer: New York, USA / Southern Tier

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

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.

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Packaging:

I’ve always been a really big fan of the multiple textures in the design of Southern Tier’s labels and this one is no exception. Clean and gratifying, with a mischievous looking crowned Jack O’Lantern ( maybe in tribute to the one legendary rider of the Pủca, high King of Ireland Brian Boru?) and flitting bat motif. The addition of the story behind this beer is an exceptionally nice touch. – Mike

With it’s wicked crowned jack o lantern, Pumking heralds the season in true style, while the bottle delivers a plethora of information about the brew within.  Another solid bottle from the folks at Southern Tier. – Tim

A menacingly grinning jack o’ lantern greets you with bats gliding through the sky.  Along the side you are given a lesson in Celtic folklore readying you for this imperial ale “bewitched & brewed with pagan spirit”. – Brittney

The graphic is great on this one, truly standing up to it’s place as the king.  The brewing notes are a nice touch that I haven’t noticed on any other labels before.  – Rick

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Color:  7.5

Orange.  I could say ‘oh, it’s a brilliant golden straw appearance’ but my entire thought process is ‘that’s really orange, maybe pumpkin orange, or the orange in candy corn but it’s definitely orange.’  Also, it’s somewhat cloudy, with very minimal head and little to no lacing. – Brittney

Numismatists rejoice! This looks like an uncirculated wheat penny, slightly dulled copper from age, but still sparkling clear. Wait, what? – Mike

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

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Aroma:  9

Now we’re talking.  It’s like buttery crumbly crust before the pie is added.  Super sweet brown sugar and nutmeg dominate the nose, and the caramel malts are a nice touch too.  Although, not the most pumpkiny, it’s one of the best smelling pumpkin beers, period. – Rick

In some pumpkin beer reviews you will get the occasional “It smells like pumpkin pie.”  Usually, that’s because of the spices and slight pumpkin aroma.  This one smells like pumpkin pie as well, but this time it’s because of the pumpkin and the crust.  A crust that is beautifully buttery and embraces baked pumpkin perfection with just a touch of whipped cream and caramel drizzle.  – Brittney

This sucker hops right out of the bottle with so much sweet pumpkin, you’d think you’d just been jammed inside one by your half wit husband Peter (anyone? Anyone?). Allspice and cinnamon also make their presence well known, with ginger and nutmeg simmering lightly on the back burner. – Mike

M- 10 / T- 7.5 / B- 9 / R- 9

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Mouth feel:  8

Smooth and creamy, medium-bodied but almost straddling the fence into heavy (but not chewy) territory–with a bouncy carbonation. – Tim

The first sip is like the one you keep trying to chase.  A melange of flavors bombard the tongue in a phosphoric dance that leaves your tongue tingling for more.  It feels watery but the bite from the 8.6% ABV reminds you that this is a serious brew. – Rick

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

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Tasting notes:  9

If they ever fall on hard times (which I seriously doubt will ever happen), Southern Tier could make perfumes, or air fresheners, or kick ass when we get back around to smell-o-vision.  If you’ve ever had any of their other creations you know they pack a serious punch…to your nose… and then to your taste buds.  They have perfected making something full of unique flavor.  Pumking is no different.  Crammed with notes of pumpkin, caramel, malts, butter, cream, and more pumpkin. Never having to use the spice as a crutch to get their point across but using just enough to let you know they haven’t forgotten the recipe.  – Brittney

Sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious, this is almost an alcoholic pumpkin pie ice cream, that maintains a gratify hop fueled  nutmeg spice snap on the back end, perfectly complimenting the milky pervasion throughout. It’s what I’d expect the perfect pumpkin pie liqueur to taste like, and it’s dangerously smooth. – Mike

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. – Tim

This seems like the most complex of pumpkin ales, yet simple at the same time.  The heavy handed nutmeg adds a nutty smoky sweetness, while not going overboard.  It’s very light and smooth for an imperial ale. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 7.5 / B- 8.5 / R- 9.5

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Finish:  8

Long and complex, you first get the sweet pumpkin burst, then a bit of the 8.6%, and finally it settles in to a pleasantly spiced bitterness that serves to reset the palate for the next round of sweetness. – Mike

There are so many flavors going on that the finish is almost a relief, but only in so much that the actual relief is that you haven’t actually finished.  The ‘finish’ is bitter, dry and spicy, the perfect counter to the sweet and creamy start. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Flavor balance: 8

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

I have to applaud Southern Tier for putting the pumpkin up front here. It’s nuanced, and bold, and it shows that someone put a lot of effort into getting it right, rather than leaning on bitter hops and spice to jump the autumn beer train with pumpkin as an afterthought. That said, there’s definitely a solid chunk of spice here, that’s subtle only in it’s palatial choosing, and boisterous in presence. – Mike

It’s got a hold on the uniqueness of it’s spice profile.  While the spices stand out, there is still a tang from the pumpkin, which is more than a lot of pumpkin ales can say. – Rick

A positively unusual lean toward pumpkin here, it’s not balanced but bravo for not relying on spice flavor. – Brittney

Huge spice to pumpkin skew here will leave patrons of gourd friendly ales searching for more equilibrium than Pumking is serving. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 6 / B- 8.5 / R- 9.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

The hops are just noticeable under all the nutmeggy goodness and sweet caramel malts which lends to a great balance. – Rick

The caramel malts and bready vanilla cookie thrust move Pumking decidedly into the dessert category (I bet this would rock with some ice cream floating in it). Happily, the high alcohol content beats back an inherent nature in the ale that if not handled correctly could wind up as sickly sweet as a Lifetime movie. – Tim

At first it seems obvious that Pumking favors the sweet tooth, but that’s to shallow an evaluation. It’s really more of a pumpkin spice latte, with creamy elements, and that black coffee bitter on the end, and while it could have been easy to let sweet treats predominate, they’ve shown an exceptional sense of discrimination that keeps you coming back for more.

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

–         Multiple Drinkability?

In the past I’ve personally killed a couple of pints of this but with food to break it up it was clearly more manageable.  For just a night of drinking, I fear Pumking would fill me up fast.  A treat to be sure, but like all those plastic pumpkin heads piled to the brim with candy confections, the key to surviving the season is moderation. – Tim

This pumpkin ale is like a breath of fresh air.  It seems to be evenly balanced in all the right places, while still presenting a great unique experience with each sip.  This is definitely the King of pumpkins. – Rick

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

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Overall: 8.25

M- 8.92 / T- 7.08 / B- 8.17 / R- 8.42