Beer Review: A Wild Ride through the Pumpkin Patch ’13

PumpkinPatch

During the later months of each year, breweries are releasing their fall seasonal beers, which means a wide variety of Pumpkin Ales will be stocked on the beer shelves. I realize I am posting this a bit late as we are in March ’14, but really, I just got around to finishing this post now. Oh well, better late than never, right? I have already posted a couple of beer reviews on some Pumpkin Ales (Uinta Brewing Company Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Shipyard Brewing Company Pumpkinhead Ale). Rather than flooding my page with individual beer reviews on these beers, I have compiled a post showcasing 9 different pumpkin beers that I had last season.

PUMP1Brewery: Shipyard Brewing Company
Beer: Pugsley’s Signature Series: Smashed Pumpkin
ABV: 9.0%
skulls-reviews4-5
Used a Satan snifter glass. The beer poured a clear bright orange color. No head, no lacing. The aroma was high in pumpkin puree, not so high in spices, but they were present, like nutmeg, and cinnamon. The aroma finished with a boozy burn to the nose. The taste was also mostly pumpkin puree like a good pumpkin pie. Very sweet. Secondary flavors profiled are the spices of nutmeg, and cinnamon. There is a high alcohol burn at the end of the swallow. Medium thickness, smooth, silky mouthfeel. Overall, one damn fine Pumpkin Ale. Despite the 9% ABV on this beer, it drank rather easily. Really looking forward to this one again at the end of this year.
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Brewery: Stevens Point Brewing CompanyPUMP2
Beer: Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7.5%
skulls-reviews5
Used a BJ’s Brewhouse Restaurant Pumpkin Ale pint glass. The beer poured a hazy chestnut color. Finger-wide bubbly head, soapy lacing. Aroma is reminiscent of a sweet made from scratch homemade pumpkin pie. Good mixture of the spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) and a pumpkin scent that is not natural, and not of a puree from a can smell. Roasted and caramel malts are also present in the aroma, giving this pumpkin beer a unique aroma, unlike the rest of the pumpkin patch. The taste is quite similar. There is a great combination of nutmeg and cinnamon spices mixed with a natural pumpkin flavor, which we all know is not very strong. There is a nice backbone of roasted and caramel malts as well. As usual, with this style of beer, there is no hop profile, and it’s not at all bitter. Medium-heavy body on this beer, but leaning more towards the lighter end. The mouthfeel is very silky, leaving a nice coating on the tongue after the swill. Overall, this was one of my favorite pumpkin beers of last season. I really liked that the usual suspects in a pumpkin beer were all present, but not at all overpowering in any way. The use of real pumpkin could have been the reason, as we all know real pumpkin doesn’t have a very strong smell or taste. As long as I can get my hands on this beer, I will be stocking my fridge each year with this whole hog!
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PUMP3Brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Beer: Pumpkinator (2013)
ABV: 10.0%
skulls-reviews5
Used a Rogness Brewing snifter glass. The beer pours a very dark brown, near black color crowned with a finger wide tan head. Great head retention, leaving nice sticky lacing down the glass. Aroma is full of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Pumpkin is present in a pumpkin pie puree smell. Hidden well beneath the spices and pumpkin is a nice aroma of brown sugar, and caramel. Boozy burn on the tail end and lingers. The taste follows the nose. Imagine eating a pumpkin pie while washing it down with a good imperial stout. The pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and allspice hit the palate with ferociousness. After the initial flavors mellow on the taste buds, brown sugar, and caramel malts make their presence known. The body is a heavy beast, but complimented with a very smooth mouthfeel. There is a good boozy burn that lingers in the throat after each drink of this beer. Overall, I will say that Pumpkinator has been one of, if not the very best pumpkin beer for the past few years. This beer was first introduced as Divine Reserve #9, which I never had at that time, unfortunately. In 2011, Saint Arnold Brewing Company brewed and renamed this beer Pumpkinator, which is the first time I ever had it, and have been hooked ever since!
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Brewery: New Belgium Brewing CompanyPUMP4
Beer: Pumpkick
ABV: 6.0%
skulls-reviews4-5
Used a Freetail Brewing Company logo pint glass. The beer poured a hazy orange amber color. Thin layer of off white bubby head with no retention, no lacing left on glass. The aroma is complex and confusing. The normal pumpkin beer smells are present, such as spices, like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Then there is something very different here. the smell of pumpkin is is faint, so the focus is on the spices, then there is a sour tartness thrown in the mix from the use of cranberry juice in this beer. The taste is just as confused as the aroma. The tartness shows up first on my palate, and stays with me the entire drink. Overlaying the tartness of the cranberry juice are the spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. The pumpkin taste is showing up, but it very artificial and fake, as this beer is said to use pumpkin juice. Not really sure how pure this juice is, but it does make the pumpkin appearance rather thin. The body is a medium thickness with a slick, oily mouthfeel that finishes dry due to the tartness. Overall, as a true pumpkin beer, I would have given this beer a lower rating. Due to the creativity and uniqueness of this beer, I gave it a high score. In the Lips of Faith series by New Belgium there was a beer released a few years ago called “Kick”, which was a collaboration beer by New Belgium and Elysian which was, what I believe to be the first released version of what is now Pumpkick.
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PUMP5Brewery: 5 Stones Artisan Brewery
Beer: Sleepy Hollow
ABV: 7.7%
skulls-reviews4
Used a Libbey brand porter/stout glass. The beer poured a dark, hazy mahogany color. Thin eggshell colored head, which left lines of soapy lacing down the glass. The aroma has some typical pumpkin beer characters like nutmeg, cinnamon, some allspice, and pumpkin, but there is something a bit different here, smokiness. The smokiness is present but not strong or overpowering, but it does add a new element different than most. The taste is right where I like it. The typical flavors are here, just like in the nose, but again, none are overpowering or strong. The smokiness appears again right as soon as it hits your palate, and then again at the end of the sip. The body is where the pumpkin and spices are. The body is nice medium thickness with a smooth mouthfeel and creamy finish. In typical 5 Stones fashion, these guys always try to be that one beer outside the normal. I like their idea of smoked pumpkin being added to a beer, but I would like to see more of the smoke profile show off in the aroma and taste. We will see if this beer get’s brewed again later this year.
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Brewery: Karbach Brewing CompanyPUMP6
Beer: Krunkin’ Pumpkin
ABV: 8.5%
skulls-reviews4-5
Used a Samuel Smith pint glass. The beer poured a clear mahogany color. Crowned with an eggshell colored frothy head. Great head retention throughout the session, and an excellent sheet of sticky lacing left down the glass. The nose has the normal cast of characters like nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin, but there are a few extras like hints of vanilla, nuts, and a nice bready scent. The taste follows the nose, including the subtle hint of vanilla. There is nutty flavor and a bread-like malty backbone behind the sweet pumpkin and spices. The finishing touch on the palate is a nice boozy burnThis is a little different than most other pumpkin beers. The body is a medium thickness with a silky mouthfeel, leaving a nice coating on the tongue. The beer is sweet so it leaves a bit of a dryness at the finish. Overall, I can say that Karbah has yet to disappoint me with their line-up of beers. Everything, even down to their lagers, I really enjoy, and I don’t really enjoy lagers. Krunkin Pumpkin is an amazing beer, and I look forward to that beer later this year.
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PUMP7Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer: Pumpking
ABV: 8.6%
skulls-reviews4
Used a Satan snifter glass. The beer poured a clear bright copper color. It was topped with an inch wide bubbly, soapy head, leaving rings of soapy lacing down the glass. The aroma is sweet, similar to canned pumpkin, which hits your nose right away quickly followed by the supporting cast of rascally bandits of spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. The aroma of vanilla, malts, and a bit of pie crust comes through as well. The taste followed the nose. Sweet canned pumpkin flavor and all the pumpkin pie spices mixed with a bit of pie crust, vanilla, and a hint of clove. The body is a medium thickness. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, and leaves with a sweet oily aftertaste and feel. Overall, I will say so far most of the Southern Tier beers I have had have been really top notch, including Pumking. This beer will be making an annual stop by the beer fridge each Halloween time of year!
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PUMP8Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer: Warlock
ABV: 8.6%
skulls-reviews5
Used a Satan snifter glass. The beer poured an opaque black looking color at first. When held up to the light it appears to be a dark ruby or garnet color. Warlock is crowned with an inch wide tan foamy head which retained well, leaving a nice looking web of sticky lacing down the glass. The aroma is pumpkin pie with scents of pumpkin puree, and spices (nutmeg, cimmamon, allspice). Faintly, behind the aroma of the pumpkin pie spices are hints of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits. The taste is something unique with this beer. As the usual suspects are once again in the line-up, hints of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and dark fruits are present, giving this beer a great complexity. The actual pumpkin puree flavor at times takes a back seat to the Imperial Stout characteristics. Well played, Southern Tier. Well played, indeed. Warlock has a full body, and is smooth and silky on the the mouthfeel. This beer finishes sweet and sugary with a nice boozy burn on thew very tail end. Overall, I was very happy to get this bottle. Warlock was not sold in my city of San Antonio, so I had to track this down elsewhere. Luckily I have good friends in other places. My compadre of craft beer, Rick of my favorite DFW area beer store, Lonestar Beverages hooked me up with this bottle. Thanks buddy! I am really hoping to see this beer on the local shelves later this year.
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OutofYourGourdBrewery: Redhook Ale Brewing Company
Beer: Out of your Gourd Pumpkin Porter
ABV: 5.8%
skulls-reviews3-5
Used a Shipyard Brewing Pumpkinhead pint glass. This beer poured a thick looking soda-like brown color, topped with an eggshell colored foamy head. The head reduced to a thin ring around the top of the beer, leaving no lacing at all down the glass. The aroma is chock-full of pumpkin pie purreee and spices (you should now know which ones). There is a nice new element to this pumpkin beer, though. There is a big whiff of smoke, and maple syrup. The overall scent is sweet and sugary. The taste has the same elements as the aroma with some additional flavors showing up. The maple syrup adds a smokiness or even a bacon-like flavor, which for me, overpowers the rest of the characters. Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, clove, nuts, roasted malts make up the body of the drink. Pumpkin puree, and a slight hint of ginger are exposed after the maple and spices flavors fade away. The aftertaste is a bit strange, almost like liquid smoke mixed with pumpkin pie. It’s not very strong, but it does linger a bit. The body was a light-medium thickness, even though I had expected this one to be a heavy, full body beer. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, and flat, but it still has a smoothness to it. It finishes with a sweet, sugary sweetness on the palate. Overall, I will say that the addition of maple syrup to any beer will really out weigh other ingredients most of the time. This will bring out an aroma and flavor of smokiness, bacon, and sweet maple syrup with a sweet, sugary stickiness. Of course another downfall to some, is that Redhook is owned by Craft Brew Alliance, which has Anheuser-Busch InBev as a major stock holder. Tying in the AB InBev guys to any beer will always leave a foul taste in most craft beer drinker’s mouth, as they like to refuse giving any money to this company. Out of your Gourd Pumpkin Porter was my least favorite beer on this list for sure, but it was mostly for the flat, thin feeling, and the overpowering maple syrup, which is one of my last favorite ingredients in a beer.
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As you can see, there are a lot of different styles reviewed above. I mean just look at the photos of the beers. All have different colors, head, clarity, etc. The one thing they all have in common though, are the aromas and flavors of the added ingredients to make a beer a good Pumpkin Ale, whether it is in a porter, stout, or just regular ale. With so many breweries, and brewpubs opened around the US, or even the world, this list is nowhere near the total of all pumpkin beers, but these were available for me, so I drank them, and reviewed them, and now I am sharing my thoughts on them here. Some people really love pumpkin beers, while others really hate them. Judge for yourself, and try out as many as you can stomach.

Metal Connection: With all this pumpkin talk, and seeing all the pumpkins on the labels, I went with the old school German Power/Speed Metal band, Helloween for this Metal Connection. I went way back in the band’s career and chose the song “Metal Invaders” from their 1985 debut album, Walls of Jericho. The demo version of this song was featured on a compilation split LP called Death Metal, released in 1984 on Noise Records. So sit back, press play on the video below, and enjoy the read about these different pumpkin beers.

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