Monthly Archives: September 2015

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


Elysian Brewing – Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Guest reviewer Elijah Blaisdell’s review:

I’ve been waiting to try this beer ever since I got a taste of another of the Elysian pumpkins, night owl, on a recent trip to Seattle. Punkuccino, in my opinion, is a silly name but hey, it’s cute I guess. Elysian also describes this beer as, “a pumpkin ale with the attitude of a world-weary barista.” As a part time world weary barista myself, I was glad to get the chance to try it. It has a heavy aroma of sweet coffee, and dark pumpkin pie. A full, smooth, and round body. This beer is pleasantly sweet and the coffee note is dark, smooth, and chocolatey. Smooth layers of dark caramel, treacle, chocolate, and soft spice gave me visions of pumpkin pie filled chocolates, carefully arranged in pumpkin shaped boxes.

I find the Punkuccino to be just the kind of beer that this world weary barista needs. The sort I would find waiting at home to wrap me in it’s softly spiced tendrils, after a long day of serving coffee to an impatient and unending line of customers. As promised, this beer serves up a smooth mug of coffee, alongside a slice of dark caramelly pumpkin pie. 91/100

Alex’s Review:

“How’s your blood today, Alex? Is it the usual – more coffee than blood?” A good day has me answering affirmatively to this frequent question from a dear friend. A great day means that the coffee has found a way to course through my veins by some other means than my IV of iced coffee that I carry year round through New England winters. Elysian, known for their tireless amounts of inventiveness to feature pumpkin in solid brews, has done just that. They have included Stumptown coffee in their pumpkin ale and made my life an undeniably happier place by shoving coffee into my beer – YES, please. This medium-bodied ale pours a cherry cola hue and announces itself with a large glorious aroma of cinnamon chocolate and a pinch of nutmeg. Somehow, even with a slathering of nuttiness from the Stumptown coffee (which if you’ve never consumed, then you have been sorely failing at how to deliciously wake yourself up) on the sweet, ample pumpkin, there is a depth from the chocolate malt without a stout heaviness that allows the sensation of cinnamon chocolate bread to accompany the seasonal pumpkin.

As this ale warms, even more of the coffee releases itself. This ale just cut 15 minutes off of your morning commute – skip ‘bucks and enjoy your coffee, pumpkin and Autumnal loaf as a new three-in-one trinity to kick off a faboo day. 96/100


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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company – Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale (2015)

If I’m torn after dinner between wanting pie, bourbon, or a cigar, I’m filled with a decadent glee knowing that this pumpkin ale exists. Pouring a jewel-like orange and smelling of sweet caramel, faint pumpkin, and exotic vanilla, the bourbon barrel addition to this ale adds a nutty topping to this after dinner delight. The pumpkin takes on a candied shell and is generously spiced with all-spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg finishing creamily into oaky bourbon.

It’s a man-cave in a dessert digestif bottle – just enough wood and more than enough cream. 90/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Y’all got a punchy pumpkin with extra Kentucky kick from the bourbon barrels. Full of clove, anise, fall spice, but not heavy. Your favorite grandaddy of a beer 89/100


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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Brooklyn Brewing – Post Road Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Post Road has shed it’s old wardrobe for a new label much more in alignment with Brooklyn’s beer line-up. Is this shedding of past duds the only thing that has changed in this pro-pumpkin seasonal brew? The pouring unveils a very familiar well-carbonated amber body. The scent is inhabited primarily with a robust barley scent and mild nutmeg. So far, this is familiar territory for this drinker. As hinted, a barley presence helps lay a foundation in a chewy malt and coupled with a bumper crop of raw, fleshy, naked pumpkin. Only in the finish, does nutmeg peek through. Despite what takes like a mouth full of raw pumpkin and biscuits, this ale is light-bodied and brisk. All together, a pleasurable, uncomplicated take on pumpkin. No lace, no frills – just honest gourd.

Though a great shout out to a puritanical viewpoint on brewing for sustenance
BAD aftertaste, the lack of even trace amounts of spicing leaves for a funky aftertaste. This pumpkin is haunted by the shadow it casts in your mouth. 68/100

Nic’s thoughts from a past year: Feels like fad diet vegetable water cleanse. More forgettable than that guy in that thing. Kevin something? 53/100


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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Steadfast Beer Co. – Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Ale (2015)

A gluten-free pumpkin beer? Not being gluten intolerant myself, a world with limited quantities of drinkable beer is a horror I’ve never known. I can only imagine that suffering this deprivation would equate to a suffering second only to a world without cheese. Being best friends with a lovely gluten intolerant lady has made certain nights of drinking where I’ve attempted to drink empathetically like drinks, but there are only so many mornings after an all Prosecco night that I have left in me to suffer. Could this pumpkin beer be a solution to our beer conundrum? Pumpkin Spice Ale pours a light, clear orange and the smell of molasses immediately thickens the air with wisps of cinnamon and a hint of rice. Odd, but intriguing. Now for the taste – no, no, no – “tastes like BURNING”. After the acerbic onset of my second sip, the ale finally subsides into vanilla, faint pumpkin, and a chalky sorghum finish that will leave you angry and confused. Sadly, there was no third sip for me, but there was a first one for the sink.

Who tested this for balance and flavor? Is this how the gluten intolerant folk live? Scandalous! We owe it to them to not settle at brewing a pseudo-mediocre beer and slapping a price tag on it. I wanted to like this and not gum up my drain with sorghum – I want a lot of things, just not this beer. 52/100


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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


California Cider Co. – Ace Pumpkin Cider (2015)

This crystal clear golden cider smells precisely how you’d want an autumnal cider to: tart, edgily spicy from cloves and all-spice, and just a notion of pumpkin. Then, all pie breaks loose from an initially earthy beginning as the tart-tease apples lose all their bite and become a sopping, brown sugar sticky mess. Added to this is margin of sweet pumpkin lightly cloaked in all-spice, but the gourd voice is nearly inaudible when up against a whole orchard.

Though slightly crisper then past years, what this cider lacks is the tart it promised to be. It leaves you with blue-(app)balls. Who knows where to get this cider some tang? 69/100

Nic’s thoughts from past season: Kind of artificial, like a pumpkin wine-cooler. A bit cheap and tarty, but hey, can’t that be fun sometimes? 67/100


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Posted by on September 12, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Elysian Brewing – Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Guest reviewer, Tim Veilleux’s review:

Pours burnt amber and a kind of dark opaque without being cloudy. You know, like fall? Maybe you’ve heard of it. It is the season that knocks. Smells of strong nutmeg and candy sweetness with a touch of earth and clove. Luckily, the sweetness doesn’t carry over much to the taste. This is an explosion of savor…y. It is also a spice party. Made with pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds AND pumpkin spices, this is beer does it all and manages, somehow, not to hit you over the head. Cinnamon and allspice up front, roasted pumpkin on the back. It employs some kind of voodoo to taste as if it was just mulled and handed to me, and we all know fresh beer is good beer. And it’s neither too thick nor thin, balanced carbonation. Legs akimbo over the pumpkin beer divide, this one.

This is a collage of pumpkin beer styles that manages to do it better than most. It’s so well made, it’s no wonder Elysian is considered “the pumpkin guys”. Only mild complaint is it comes very close to too much spice. Otherwise, it’s nearly flawless. OWL BE BACK for more! 93/100

Alex’s review:

Elysian Brewing has long been known as one of the leaders in pumpkin beer brewing with their nuanced recipes and fine handling of the main ingredient, pumpkin. The first time I had this ale was in our early days of season 1 in 2012, and I recall how blown away by it I was – this made me anxious to see if the years of honor in my brain had been worthily bestowed by a then newbie in the pumpkin patch. This cloudy, amber ale gives a fragrant aroma of dense pumpkin, cinnamon, and a hint of cloves. In it’s medium body, the spice is a forward and potent sachet of nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice, cloves, and the lightest sprinkle of ginger. Carrying this onus of spice is a generous body of biscuity, bready pie crust from munich and pale malts, and the Pièce De Résistance, fresh pumpkin. A lesser brewer would’ve only used pumpkin to balance the spices, but Elysian masterfully includes both raw and roasted pumpkin seeds creating an ambience which only shoving your face into the pumpkin you’re carving to make sure that you scraped out the last of the innards can create.

This Night Owl sinks it’s talons into just how much drive a pumpkin ale can have. Perhaps the spicing may have too much vigor for some, but drinking this makes me already hear the leaves curling up into themselves as the night air cools. With an ale this tasty, perhaps the pumpkins should temporarily go #ratemyhooters? 94/100


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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in 2015 Reviews