Posts tagged ‘Vermont’

Jack-O Traveler Seasonal Shandy – The Traveler Brewing Co.

Travlers Shandy

When we set out earlier this year seeking out beers to review, we definitely started looking into some of the darker corners of the cellar. Sure, there are certainly a few major release pumpkin ales that have eluded our grasp as of yet, but two years running of tracking down all the familiar faces has allowed us a certain freedom to delve into the unique, elusive, and creative minds. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’ve got nothing against a good old fashioned pumpkin ale, but whether it works or not, there’s always something fun about trying something a little different. This one is definitely in the “you’ve got to at least try it once” category. ::Cue mustache twirl::


Name: Jack-O Traveler Seasonal Shandy

Place of Origin / Brewer: Burlington, Vermont / The Traveler Beer Co.

Beer style / ABV%: Pumpkin Shandy

Specialty Prep / Individuality: This beer holds the distinction of being the first Pumpkin Shandy. It is brewed with 2-Row Malted Barley, malted wheat, and real pumpkin, and features Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops and a hint of spice. It’s also worth noting that while it does take it’s inspiration from the lemon soda & lager cocktails of Europe, the flavor here is 100% beer.



I like this label. It’s playful and they’ve incorporated a fun moustachio into the artwork. Everybody loves a mustache. – Rick

A vine mustachioed jack-o-lantern. How hipster. – Tim


Color: 7

This shandy is the color of honey or perhaps a lemon iced tea. Thin lacing clings just around the edge with an ever so slight amount of bubbles making their way to the top. It is the picture of refreshment. – Brittney

Deep Mustard Yellow leaning just slightly into a crusty orange / burnt umber. I’m going to guess this alludes to the lemon shandy aspect. Darker than I would have suspected. – Mike

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


Aroma: 6

I wasn’t expecting such a full bodied aroma from this shandy. There are some earthy elements which reveal a muskiness that isn’t unpleasant and helps pronounce the pumpkin. – Rick

The aroma of lemon is always intense to me. With that being said, I smell a great deal of lemon and a good amount of pumpkin followed by just a bit of cinnamon. – Brittney

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


Mouth feel: 7

On the lighter end of medium bodied which, based on the fact that they are touting this as a shandy, is much fuller than I would have anticipated. The carbonation is mild and the ale has a soft and easy texture that would make putting more than a few of these back a veritable breeze. – Tim

Crisp, and light, with just a bit of fizz. This is easy drinking, hot weather pumpkin beer here folks. – Mike

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


Tasting notes: 7

A slight touch of acidity rides a heap of spices and a good dose of malty, well… goodness. There is dominant sweetness that lands between pie and powdered lemonade, without delving too much into either, and a quality of southern tea that makes it a likely accompaniment for a round of golf on Halloween. – Mike

The overriding flavor profile is cinnamon and allspice, with subtle notes of lemon trailing on the finish. Considering the spice on the nose and at the forefront of the body, it’s a real wonder that this isn’t more aggressive. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this by any stretch of the imagination a traditional shandy, but the brewers have managed to impart that light sweetness within the confines of a pumpkin ale with absolute success. – Tim

We’ve tasted a lot of beers that tout fresh and local. And we all know what “natural flavors” really means these days. But I think it’s probably for the best if we all give this one a chance to be what it is. This is like the difference between buying your pumpkin pie at the store and baking one yourself from scratch. This “pie” is the pie from the store, and for what it is, it’s pretty damn good. – Brittney

I am quite surprised, once again, by this shandy. I never suspected that pumpkin flavor with lemon would make such a great combo. The spicing is gentle enough to let the natural sweetness of the pumpkin flavors shine, and each sip is just as good as the last. – Rick

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


Finish: 6.5

Smooth and lemony on the end pronounced by a hint of zest and maybe a bit of cinnamon. A nice pumpkin gourdiness really floods the senses here and compliments the brew well. – Rick

This is where I get my dose of lemon. Nutmeg lingers and gives the quality of a mulled cider, with fruity pumpkin juice gleaning on the swallow. In fact, I think I might have had this once in a certain wizard themed section of a certain local theme park. – Mike

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


Flavor balance: 6.5

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6

What little pumpkin there is shows itself only on the bouquet, the spice while prominent is never overbearing, which in and of itself is a major compliment considering the dominant cinnamon profile on display. – Tim

The lemon really helps sweeten without having to rely on an over use of pumpkin spice. Actually the spicing seems to be pretty fair and light on this one. – Rick

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

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

You get sweetness from pumpkin and spice and a crisp dryness from the lemon creating a pretty decent balance to me. – Brittney

A good shandy should be sweet, but not soft drink-esque. This ale toes the line in that regard, with finessed aplomb. It has just enough sugar in it to make me want to pound down a few with my holiday fish and chips, but not so much that it’s going to leave me bloated and sorry. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7

It’s light and easy going down, but there is an inherent sugar rush that just doesn’t gel with me. That said, it surpassed my expectations as a novelty, and is definitely interesting as a fringe style. A few tweaks could make this a winner down the line. – Mike

I was really impressed with this new twist on the pumpkin beer, and the style just begs to be drunk in session. It’s really well balanced and even more pumpkin-like than some of the ales that we’ve had. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 10


Overall: 6.67

M- 5.67 / T- 6.33 / B- 7.33 / R- 7.33


Private Reserve Pumpkin – Woodchuck Cidery

Guess who’s back? Nuptial bliss and honeymoon trekking all in all, we didn’t have much like finding any of the European pumpkin offerings we’d heard so much rumor about in our web scouring. So we just had to settle for Scotch. Lots of Scotch. Hopefully though, that means a very welcome end to the graphic skimping on lots of our reviews since we’ll have a little more time post wedding to actually drink and shoot separately (trust us, it makes the images a lot less blurry that way.) Also, as a call to all you postal pirates out there, we’re having a difficult time tracking down a number of regional brews due to all the varying restrictions around the country about shipping beer. And while we’ve got a lot in the fridge, we’d like to more easily meet our goal of total coverage by asking anyone who thinks they have something we might now have access to at arms reach, to contact out main line ( if they’d be willing to ship us a few and sort things out via PayPal (obviously as long as all the legalities are in order for your state). It would be a huge help to us, and there might just be a t-shirt in it for ya! Now without further ado…


Name: Private Reserve Pumpkin – Woodchuck Hard Cider

Place of Origin / Brewer: Vermont, USA / Woodchuck Cidery

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Cider / 6.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Providing one of the more eclectic drinks we’ve taken  in on this journey, Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin is just that. Limited to only two and a half hours time on the production line, it might prove fairly tough to get your hands on. Our first true medley flavor, this cider is designed to be everything you expect from the name, with a finish of pumpkin, designed to be served at a chilly 45 degrees. If nothing else, it is certainly a unique experiment in flavor.



Given it’s short production time on the line, it’s apparent that the Cidery took the most economical shortcut approach to this label, eschewing even the regular full color Woodchuck label for a 70’s light show of orange and umber that’s totally loud.  Still, there is a sense of mystery and certainly, the label screams: “This is so rare, we didn’t even really bother thinking up a fancy package for it. We just wanted you to see it on the shelf”. – Mike

It would be extremely difficult to not see the bright orange packaging, even in a Vermont snow storm.  The label is pretty simple, but sometimes there’s elegance in simplicity. – Rick

It’s a bold, kind of in-your-face, neon orange that dominates the whole label.  It works well against the green bottle.  It also has a decent bio and food pairings as well.  It’s just too hard on the eyes. – Erich


Color:  7

Pours up a dazzling crystal-clear brassy gold with tons of carbonation bubbles and a light fizzy head that snaps, crackles and pops like tempting bowl of Rice Krispies. – Tim

It’s a decent enough burnt orange that is transparent.  There’s no head to speak of with this one.  From it’s looks alone it appears to be light and watery. – Rick

M – 6.5 / T- 9 / B – 6 / R- 5.5 / E – 8


Aroma:  6

The apple cider base is apparent on the nose, but there’s a bit more going on – a complexity that’s enticing. – Erich

A brisk burst of over ripe apples on a cool morning, with just a whisper of mulling spice and something else sweet I can’t quite place. It’s intensely aromatic, if not particularly pumpkin. – Mike

First sniff?  It smells like an energy drink.  I do not smell any of our usual suspects, no pumpkin no cinnamon or clove or allspice or nutmeg.  Second sniff?  It smells like a Twizzler. – Brittney

M – 7 / T- 4 / B – 5 / R- 4.5 / E – 8


Mouth feel:  6

Pucker up, this is a sweet and sour cider super light body and super crisp acidity.  It bounces around the mouth sending you about two-steps away from sugar shock.  Big carbonation–this is what they refer to when they say ‘adult soda’.  I could imagine that if the mouth feel was heaver this would be as unpleasant as drinking apple juice concentrate. – Tim

It’s definitely the slightly syruped cider that you’d expect from woodchuck’s other offerings with a crisp bite to offset. It’s interesting to me how harmoniously those two contrasting feels seem to intermingle. – Mike

It confuses me as to what I am drinking.  Is it a cider or a sweet wine? Is it apple juice?  It feels cooling and refreshing and perhaps a little flat. – Brittney

M – 6.5 / T- 6 / B – 5.5 / R- 4 / E – 7


Tasting notes:  6

Not too sweet, not too tart.  Crisp apple is muted nicely by the pumpkin, or rather the pumpkin is effectively sharpened by the apple notes – suffice to say they compliment each other well.  This is a devilishly good cider. – Erich

It’s actually what I would expect from a cider, it tastes fruity, sweet, and is refreshing.  It just lacks any discernible spices to qualify as pumpkin. – Rick

I really want to find pumpkin in here, but this takes like drinking a candy coated granny smith apple.  Amazingly, it’s got 6.8% ABV and I can’t find a note of alcohol in until it hits my chest and warms me up. Notes of flowers and honey are there and the sugar, while pretty aggressive, isn’t syrupy.   It actually works if you’re looking for a super sweet cider–I tend to like mine on the dryer side.  – Tim

Wow. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to think about pumpkin cider. Creamy yogurt and apple explode on the tongue, transforming into a slight cider spice, and then slowly collapsing into brown sugared squash. Quite the evolutionary trifecta. It’s saccharine exploits are sure to turn off some, but this is a truly unique flavor experience. – Mike

M – 8.5 / T- 5 / B – 5 / R- 2.5 / E – 9


Finish:   5.5

It’s a little strange. I’ll give you that. Tart granny smith flirts with baked pumpkin, with the apple finally coming out on top. There’s definitely a bit of zip on the posterior, which the elevated alcohol content surely plays a part in. It reminds me a touch of mead as well. – Mike

It likes to pretend it goes down in a refreshing way but at the finish you realize that slick syrupiness is hanging out at the back of your throat. – Brittney

It has a slightly syrupy aftertaste despite it being a smooth drink.  It’s too fruity for my tastes and reminds me of a carbonated fruit juice. – Rick

M – 6 / T- 5 / B – 5 / R- 1.5 / E – 7.5


Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Not sure if there’s any explicit attempt to spice this cider, so this is difficult.  Take this as a “pumpkin vs. apple” comparison: the scales are tilted over on the apple side. – Erich

Woodchuck can call this a Pumpkin Cider all they want, but I can’t find a single note of pumpkin in the mix and there are zero spices–which to be fair, they never advertise.  What I think they did here is toss some pumpkin into the mix in the end and said….viola!  Its a bit of a shame, because if they spiced this a touch, it might have worked–or at least cheated enough to qualify as ‘pumpkiny’ but right now, it’s just a hard cider with a different label on it. – Tim

This one is tough, as there doesn’t seem to be the usual intent of pumpkin pie that so many seem to be shooting for. Instead, Woodchuck shoots, and scores, on a product with no equal, and really, no peers to even compete with. That being said, the hints of each are fairly equal, if also fairly different from the status quo. – Mike

M – 7 / T- 1 / B – 5 / R- 1 / E – 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Just a bit on the sweet side, but controlled well. – Erich

Not dry at all, I keep going back to the fruit juice analogy.  It’s actually sweet from fruits not the typical spices we’re used to. – Rick

M – 4 / T- 4 / B – 5 / R- 2 / E – 9

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Even to someone who isn’t a cider fan, this was remarkably drinkable – not too sweet, not too tart, not too dry, not too heavy and not too strong.  Absolutely delectable. – Erich

I’m not a big cider fan and this brew solidifies my dislike.  It’s too fruity and overwhelmingly sweet to the point that I couldn’t finish it. – Rick

Only if I’m begging for a hangover. – Brittney

While a bit indulgent of the sweet tooth, the right mood could set me after 2-3 of these. Of course, with a limited batch, you might want to spread them out over the season. – Mike

M – 5 / T- 4 / B – 4.5 / R- 1 / E – 8


Overall:  5.83

M – 6.67 / T- 5.33 / B- 5.17 / R- 3.50 / E – 7.92