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Monthly Archives: September 2015

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

 

Ithaca Beer Co. – Country Pumpkin (2015)

Down home cooking. Is there any greater comfort? Yet, like comedy is to the Academy Awards, down home cooking often gets outshone by “more elegant” cuisine. Country Pumpkin is the down home cooking of pumpkin ales. Massive, rounded pumpkins carry the nose with sprinklings of ginger and cinnamon as this tawny ale pours a fuzzy cloud of amber into the glass. Leading through this medium body in taste is a forward caramel malt combined with honey malt to coat the pumpkin puree in a rustic treat seasoned well with a clever combination of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Yet, even with this hearty combo of pumpkin meat and sweet malts, this ale cools it off deliciously into a dry finishing twist.

Like that comfily broken-in flannel shirt that you’ve had since your first middle school dance that just grows softer each year, this pumpkin ale is an Autumn evening in a bottle. 91/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Big country pumpkin here, wholesome tasting and rustic. Nothing overstated about this beer, but maybe it lacks a wow factor. A pumpkin beer for actual gourd fans. 80/100

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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Cisco Brewers Nantucket – Pumple Drumkin (2015)

If Pumple Drumkin were a movie, it would be one in the string of 90’s rom-coms where the “not cool” girl goes through a series of superficial changes (aka taking off those damn glasses) but ends with the inner change of accepting she was always beautiful on the inside. Canning this beer was inspired, adding a much needed metallic edge, but the inner change (in this case, more pumpkin) has finally occurred. Pouring a bright sequoia with a generous frothy head, a rich, pine and nutmeg filled aroma with a hint of caramel promises an upped game from past years. The caramel in the body combines with a more prominent pumpkin and is well-seasoned with light cloves and generous nutmeg. Before the caramelized sugar taste has a chance to become overwhelming with it’s sweet tastiness, bitter hops drag this pumpkin into a lovely dry finish.

By Freddie Prinze Jr, puberty has ended for this pumpkin. Complete with adorable can which has only enhanced the flavor for the better, this pumpkin is finally ready to be admired as a solid middle ground in the constant battle of savory and sweet. The glasses are off, let’s do this. 82/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Pinier hops taste, light nutmeg. The hops overpower the very light spice and pumpkin, but make refreshingly savory anti-pie 76/10

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Posted by on September 19, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Blue Point Brewing – Pumpkin Ale (2015)

If cream soda could have a Doppelgänger in appearance, then it would be this visually stunning pumpkin ale from Blue Point Brewing. Though faint, traces of cinnamon and pumpkin waft up from this pint in a delicate manner. But like last call, when the lights come on and you see just exactly how much sawdust, spilt beer, and broken dreams have been crushed into the barroom floor that particular Wednesday evening, the taste of this ale brings a promising ale crashing to the floor. Brown sugar is essentially dumped into a runny, thin body to float amongst the nutmeg and cinnamon in a whirlpool of strained pumpkin water. Somehow, I feel I’ve been had.

I, too, have a spice rack and jars of sugar, but I don’t just free-pour when I bake. All the right tools are here for a pumpkin beer, but I recommend burning this recipe card…or at least radically changing the quantities of each ingredient. 68/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Another in the not-bad-not-great category. I won’t remember this next year. Or after my next beer. The Bill Pullman of pumpkin beer. 69/100

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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Rogue Ales & Spirits – Rogue Farms Pumpkin Savior (2015)

What does a good gardener do when they grow a crop bigger than they have the need for? They share the love. What does a good brewery, who grows their own pumpkins for their annual pumpkin ale, when they have a far larger crop then their beer calls for? They share the love and brew, not one, but two pumpkin beers! This spring release for Rogue paired their luscious, fresh pumpkins with wheat to call in the green growth of everything instead of the traditional thrashing of wheat and the end of summer that pumpkin ale most frequently brings to mind. Pouring a rich raw umber and smelling heavily of cinnamon, cloves, and a little wheat, this light-bodied witbier is rich with fresh pumpkin and dollops of vanilla combined into a light caramel. Tying this surprising new seasonal take was a light heat from the cinnamon complete with dry finish. It’s a dessert before dinner treat.

This savior didn’t just rescue the remnants of a crop from an unfulfilled destiny – it saves the world from the punishment of another mediocre pumpkin beer. Inventive style, balanced, tasty, and bubbling with life like the Spring it beckons in. 85/100

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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in 2015 Reviews