Monthly Archives: September 2015

Wicked Weed Brewing – Xibalba Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Visions of sweet, creamy pumpkin swirl through the mind frequently when pumpkin imperial ales are mentioned, or even though staunch possibility of a savory treat, but Wicked Weed has unleashed an ancient rite of passage worshipping seasonal change that demands fire and primitive hallucinogens. This hazel colored imperial pumpkin ale pours densely, topped with a fluffy, tan head. Instantly, a perfume of chocolate and habanero surges from the brew, as though summoning all closer to partake in tradition. Creamy pumpkin and cinnamon entwine themselves with rich cacao nibs creating a final embrace before all heat from the serrano, ancho, and habanero chiles slowly enflames the flavor with gradual heat on a roasted malt body. Though the heat lingers long after the chocolate has succumbed to the flame, the ale does take on a sweeter nature as it warms in your hand.

Like distant beating drums, the overwhelming circle of chiles and the raw cacao in this ale, with their inherent abilities, unleash visceral visions, wisdom, and desires on the inside, as nature sacrifices itself outside your door in order to be reborn. 91/100


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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Fall Hornin’ (2015)

Moxie. You have to have grown up in Maine to truly understand it.
Malta Goya. You have to have grown up in San Juan to truly understand it.
Fall Hornin’. You have to have celebrated high school Homecoming sports on a crisp Fall day, ended the night around a bonfire drinking with friends, and have spent the following morning eating brunch hungover to truly understand it. Confused? Oh, I’ll get there. Fall Hornin’ pours a lovely mahogany color with an aroma of yeasty bread, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet caramel. Starting as a brown sugar and caramel sweet treat, this brew quickly loads itself up with smattering after smacking of pumpkin puree doused with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Just when you think that this light-bodied highly carbonated beer will explode from too much pumpkin, a ribbon of chocolate ripples through like an old timey soda pop. Done? Not quite. THEN, just when you think you’ve been tricked into drinking three separate beers, bitter hops kick in, wipe out the sweet, and round out this cornucopia of flavor.

Too many flavors, too many feelings, much like high school reaching it’s peak of all the feels at Homecoming. Just when you think you can’t handle any more, it all ends and you wonder how you survived all that in one sitting.

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Very sweet malt, ginger and molasses. Clove in the back end, with a touch of piney hop. Nicer in can. 71/100


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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Elysian Brewing – Dark o’ the Moon Stout (2015)

“You can’t blame all of your problems on the moon”, Brit (and soon to give birth) RMPumpkin Nicola once said to me. Don’t tell her, but she’s absolutely correct, as I could never classify this pumpkin stout homage to that mysterious side of the moon, so wonderfully musicalized in the past by Pink Floyd, as anything other than a visceral delight. This full-bodied stout releases a dense smoky aroma dripping with molasses, gingerbread, and tantalizing cinnamon. With barely any lacing, this stout pours a rich, opaque espresso hue. Having forgotten my knife and fork, I had to chew my way through the richness of this bitter chocolate loaf. Spiced with cinnamon, a phalanx of creamy pumpkin holds it’s own in the chocolate river, balancing out the bitter, before everything swirls into a smoky wisp of roasted coffee.

The gravitas of this stout is enough to slow time to a halt as you give in to all your pent-up primal lunar behavior – precisely what you want for a stout that you never wish to be quite finished drinking. 95/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Pumpkin swaddled in smoking jacket of velvety chocolate, dashing spice and rich orange peel. Decadent, rich, oh-so-cleverly balanced. 96/100


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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Sea Dog Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale

Up first, Seth’s guest review:

Clear appearance, lighter than an amber, darker than a lager – appropriately, similar to the hue of a pumpkin. The aroma is mostly spice, and not much else. As expected from the smell, it’s a very light, crisp taste, finishes almost as light as a cider. Not much body, and a thin mouthfeel. An appropriate amount of pumpkin, so as not to overpower it. Similar amount of spicing – generic, some cinnamon and allspice, noncommittal in regard to sweet vs. savory. Slight bitterness in aftertaste.

Though Sea Dog was always known to me as a higher quality microbrew or craft beer growing up in Maine, the Pumpkin Ale falls somewhat short. It reminds me of something at a college party in fall – thin and watery, through a thin veil of fall flavors to give a better alternative to Natty Light. The texture and amount of flavor is more appropriate for a summer ale, or a generic lager; sheer refreshment value is its saving grace. 65/100

Here’s my take:

Few topics of conversation get me more twitter-pated than Maine. Maine, that glorious state of pine trees, lobsters, L.L. Bean, puffins, Otto pizza, Moxie, moose, and much, much more, you captured this born-and-raised girl’s heart three decades ago and I haven’t asked for it back since. That being said, and with no disrespect for the one area code “to rule them all” state, Maine is a rather large culprit in the unforgivably sub-par pumpkin beer brewing blight that plagues the industry. Pumpkin beer should not be a thoughtless, compulsory addition for every brewery. If you don’t care about nurturing the hopes and needs of a fine pumpkin ale recipe, then will actually receive praise for not adding to an already flooded market of pumpkin mediocrity. Sea Dog has undoubtedly felt the need to pump out an ill-advised ale, and tonight I sip protestingly from that marigold brew. This wheat ale gives off little to nothing of a whiff of cinnamon, nutmeg, and malty sweetness. The onset is far more present, albeit in a harsh, difficult to swallow way. If I said this tasted like a melted cinnamon candle spiced with potpourri, it would be an insult to the time and effort it takes to melt said candle, sprinkle in the potpourri, strain out it all out, and then chug. No taste of pumpkin, despite subliminal attempts from the orange of the label. The slight bite from the bready malt, gumminess from the wheat, and crisp fade all verify just how little thought went into this beer. Maine, I don’t hold you responsible, but I do wish you’d scold your breweries more to keep this from ever being bottled.

The loose change jingling around in your pocket of pumpkin beer. It adds up to something, but it ain’t much. 53/100

On a side note, this is the second sink pour of the RMP season.


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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Mcauslan Brewing Inc. – St. Ambroise Citrouille (Pumpkin) (2015)

If one were to liquify rusty nails and then sift out any remaining debris, it would look eerily like this Canadian pumpkin ale, but most likely not smell as heavily of gingery pumpkin bits and nutmeg with an air of astringency, as this import does. Weaving blond and caramel malts together, this light bodied ale is in many ways an internally combative one. Sweetness from the malt and pumpkin fights a harsh wall of spicing from the cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon and hops in the watery body. More and more pumpkin intrudes on the ale as it warms, but throws off the balance already achieved by making a tartness occur with the malt.

The color of nails coated in rust, and about as appetizing as eating those nails after jabbing them into pumpkin chunks to make lollipops. 69/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Sadly to me falls into the “smells great, tastes average” category. Just not enough flavor to box with the big boys. 75/100


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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


NoDa Brewing – Gordgeous Pumpkin Ale (2015)

No cinnamon. No nutmeg. Sign me up. Attired in a festive orange tall-boy, the leather jacket of cans, this ale the color of a fading campfire smells of pumpkin laced with cloves. Reminiscent of many Oktoberfests, the bitter onset of this ale eases into heavy all-spice, cardamom, cloves, and a scoop of earth ginger. The brown sugar rounds out this wallop on the pumpkin puree, as this mildly sweet finish turns to a chalky fade.

Not adding cinnamon or nutmeg is not only a welcome against the grain attitude for a pumpkin ale, but reminds me of that rebel in class you’d be willing to cut class for – edgy and tasty. 87/100


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Posted by on September 25, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Boulevard Brewing Company – Funky Pumpkin (2015)

Up first, Kerry and Jeffy’s guest review:

We first need to preface this review by admitting that neither one of us is the biggest pumpkin beer fan. Seems like every brewery is throwing their hat into the pumpkin beer ring with one spice bomb after another, but we were definitely intrigued when Boulevard announced that its entry into the pumpkin beer realm would be a sour. Pumpkin pie spice, Brettanomyces, barrel aging? Why are they doing this? How can this even work?… Well surprisingly, it does.

The beer fills the glass with a slightly hazy, orange auburn hue like changing autumn leaves that reminds us that leaf peepers will soon be flooding New England to gaulk at. Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger immediately hit your nose. On the first sip you get the brett funk up front, almost like a nice tart apple, which then subsides and finishes with all that pumpkin pie spice of cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of all spice. If you were looking for big pumpkin flavor in this beer, you’re out of luck as it is subtle to nonexistent, but we kind of appreciate that it doesn’t taste like drinking a Yankee candle. While Funky Pumpkin isn’t a smack in the mouth from George Clinton kind of funk, the barrel aging rounds out this beer to give it the mellow tartness that we totally dig.
We both would give this an 83 or 84/100.

Here’s my take:

Funky Pumpkin does not leave any party up to chance by kicking things off with a disco ball in the shape of a pumpkin, shining just a little extra boogie with leaf and stem. Pouring a brilliantly clear clementine hued orange, this sour immediately ensnares with a lightly soured aroma dazzled with ginger and nutmeg. The Brett yeast immediately splashes into this palate, tapering it’s pleasant sour wave into releasing a mild amount of pumpkin sweetened with barrel aging, and spiced with all-spice, and smaller traces of cinnamon and nutmeg. As this freshman Sour 101 warms, more sweetness is released into a vanilla smoothness from barrel, just not from trace amounts of pumpkin.

The Sunny Delight of sours – refreshing and juicy. A little bit tart, a little bit sweet, enough funk for a solo dance party. 82/100


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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ale – Pumpkin Ale (2015)

One of my favorite memories of growing up in Maine during the Autumn was driving past gardens bursting with pumpkins at the end of each glorious vine with their flashes of orange bursting through the dusting of good, gritty earth on their skin. Wolaver’s scooped up an entire patch, gave it a light rinsing and bottled each organic pumpkin with love into an ale that pours a hazy, blood orange and smells of down home farm freshness, cinnamon, and a touch of caramel. Slicing through the chunks of pumpkin flesh is a blade of bitterness that balances out the brown sugar sweetness and handful of nutmeg. The crisp, rawness of this ale is complimented more this year by a better guided hand on the spicing and provides a quenching drink on the last few warm days of summer with a dryness that grips onto the launch of Fall.

This ale will awaken your inner peace loving childlike self and make you want to roll in the hay after a barefoot jaunt thru the field. Bringing yourself back to the basics is a great place to be. 84/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: A simple, rough-around-the edges farm-style pumpkin ale, but therein lies its charm. Pleasingly and unapologetically crunchy. Pairs well with barns, hay, and orange foliage. 79/100


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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


McKenzie’s Hard Cider – Pumpkin Jack Hard Cider (2015)

Apples, caramel, cinnamon, sticky sweetness – these are aromas that are found not only in Pumpkin Jack, but also a carnival on the verge of collapsing inwards onto it’s circus of horrors. Pouring the color of a watered down mimosa, this cider is jacked up to the point of qualifying as liquified Sugar Babies. Crammed with sweet apples and dense caramel, only a meek amount of cinnamon scratches through, but no pumpkin.

If I went bobbing for pumpkins in this apple bog, I would end up drowning in this saccharine mess while in search of at just one gourd. Appropriately frightening for Halloween, tho. 59/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: So much going on it tastes like artificial applesauce. It’s like eating a candy apple while being repeatedly smacked with a spice rack. 65/100


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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Epic Brewing Company & DC Brau Brewing Company – Fermentation Without Representation Imperial Pumpkin Porter (2015)

“Taxation without representation is tyranny”, early Patriot and Massachusetts native James Otis declared, but letting fermentation occur without interference must be the work of the righteous trusting in their beer. As a Pats fan, both Revolutionary and Tom Bradyary, thename of this porter already had large hooks in me. This brown imperial porter pours a crimson tint to it and releases a squash and chocolate loaded aroma. With slight warming, vanilla, light pumpkin, and molasses are released into a gentle spicing of cloves and cinnamon in this light body while sandwiching themselves in-between a roasted, coffee malt. Unlike typical porters, the coffee flavor here has a holiday, sun-dried twist to it releasing berry-like flavors and evoking early thoughts of Christmas and making me wish to pair it with a tart filled with pears, plums, or figs. Before the taste fully leaves Autumn, a bitter chocolate kicks back in and fades the porter out as quickly as it ensnared in the first place.

This Imperial Pumpkin Porter, in addition to letting my inner history geek flag fly, represents a bridge to seasonal beers from Fall into Winter. Too Porter-y to wallop you with pumpkin, and too squash-y to incite fear of the oncoming tundra of winter. Superb. 90/100


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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in 2015 Reviews