Monthly Archives: October 2015

Two Roads Brewing – Roadsmary’s Other Baby (2015)

Allowed two additional months in the womb of rum barreling, this dark, clear mahogany pours forth far less vanilla on the nose than it’s sibling, but a much darker sweet cane rum and a surprising blade of cinnamon, as well. This other baby has toned down it’s more playful, boisterous vanilla in favor of a smoother body that allows hearty rich meaty pumpkins spread their sweetness over the sea of amber rum.

Is the other baby a safer bet than mothering the Adrian of the original?I’ll have to go with the devil I don’t know on this one 88/100


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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Avery Brewing Company – Rumpkin (2015)

Up now, Gabe’s second guest review, this time on Rumpkin!

Rumpkin is an old friend. SURE, we’ve met under some sketchy circumstances. Late night, at a bar with live country, after drinking beer all day. It made me wake up in the middle of the night, cold-sweating, and with a nose bleed. FO REALZ. My best friends and I coined the term “Moment of Darkness” for when you decide you should open a bottle of this. It’s the opposite of a moment of clarity. Deciding “let’s open some Rumpkin” after a day of drinking is one of the worst ideas anyone can have. It’s deciding your night is going to turn into a glorious, shitshow. The type of shitshow that is absolutely unforgettable, but there’s no chance you’ll actually remember it. But boy, it’s a beautiful, strange, creature.

Which is why when Alex came over, we opened two bottles of it! One from the current release, and a vintage one from two years ago.

So, who are we kidding, this isn’t gonna be the most “technical” review of a pumpkin beer you’ve ever read. I’m “sipping” on two bottles of 18% beer. I’m not a superhero. Up until I tried Almanac’s Dark Pumpkin Sour this was not only my favorite pumpkin beer, but also the only pumpkin beer I bought and my favorite very boozy beer (suck a dick Utopia). It’s glorious, have I mentioned that? It’s also aged in rum barrels. I have no idea how they make this shit. For all I know, Adam Avery, America’s coolest dude, crushes pumpkins with his bare fists into rum barrels and after a couple years, this is what comes out. It’s not too hot for all the booze it packs. It’s not too pumpkin for a pumpkin beer. It’s the pumpkin cocktail you can only order your favorite bar, where you bartender knows you just enough to be okay with overserving your sorry ass, but is annoyed enough by your antics to let you destroy yourself.

Darkness cometh.


And now, for my take on Rumpkin:

Few memories of pumpkin ales past have left as lasting an impression as Rumpkin has on my mind of seasons past. I quiver in my boots knowing that I might meet Rumpkin again on a dark and, well this time lovely, night and that his ABV that trumps all other pumpkins will smack me across my unsuspecting cheek before I have a chance to brace myself. This year was no exception to my trepidation. I not only tried batch 3 from 2013, but batch 5 as well. Aging takes a huge toll on this ale’s appearance and aroma for the good, but this years pours far lighter than my recollection served me. This bright citrine yellow had a heavy weight of oak, rum and vanilla on the nose. Cutting thru the dense rum was a playful cinnamon and squashy pumpkin making this a trickster of a heavy hitter and far too easy to drink all of without the needed aid of friends.

Rum soaked but not to a palate wrecking point – playful pumpkin does hold it’s own in this medicinal wallop of an ale. Abandon hope, ye who enter Rumpkin alone. 92/100


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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Almanac Beer Co – Dark Pumpkin Sour (2015)

Up now, Gabe’s guest review of Dark Pumpkin Sour!

If you’ve ever thrown a party, you realize the best guest, the one that brings the most to the party, might not be the one that shows up right on time. Fuck, sometimes that guy sucks. He’s awkward. You barely know him. And you are still getting set up and maybe you’re still wearing a robe. But I digress. The point here is that this beer might be late to the party. But that doesn’t make it less great. It’s a perfect early fall beer, this is the beer that should be showing up on shelves “too early for pumpkin beer.”

As soon as I poured it, this beer and I started warming up to each other. It has an extremely light body and about as dark as amber gets, it’s very inviting. It’s that guy who as soon as he gets to the party, starts cracking jokes and making everyone talk and have a good time. It smells more like a Kriek than anything. I’m not complaining about that. At all. And because it barely smells like pumpkin – and with no hint of all the pumpkin spice stuff – I expected it to hide its pumpkiness in the taste. But hey, good news: it did NOT. The faint smell of pumpkin and the fact it says pumpkin on the label are all the pumpkin you get. YAY! It’s mostly a playful tart up front that plays nicely with a sweeter note I’m only assuming comes from pumpkin. There’s a touch of alcohol heat in the back, but even that is playful since it gives a nice clear finish. I’m not a n00b, I realize sour beers are tough to make and expensive and yadda yadda yadda fuck you, but I wish I could just buy these shits in 6 packs and drink all of it as soon as the leaves start turning. If you’re basic and you want some sweet mess, well, a. you’ve got issues and b. this ain’t for you. This is just a great American sour. I wish it were a little more carbonated, but that’s just me trying to find something wrong with it. 99/100

Up now, my take:

Pumpkins sours, you make the rockin’ world go ’round. Pumping (absolutely NO pun intended) fresh energy into a sometimes tired category of pumpkin beers comes just enough funk to turn the party on it’s side and keep me going strong for a sprint to the finish of 61 consecutive pumpkin brews. Almanac isn’t messing around when they say Dark. Pouring a cloudy milk chocolate hue with slight ruby edges when held to the light, a pleasing tart aroma with delicate traces of pumpkin wafts from this California barrel aged sour. Upon sipping this beauty, it’s plummy depth from the red wine barrels that it allowed it’s wild yeast to get all funky fresh in smooths out over heirloom pumpkins hiding their one time only visible selves. Oaky, vanilla notes subtly mix with mild caramelized malts and dark fruit lusciousness in this wild ale leaving a rich jewel of a pumpkin.

This is the elegant vamp at the pumpkin party. She’s layered, she’s decadent, she’s tart, but she’s a lady. 98/100


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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


New Holland Brewing – Ichabod Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Up now, guest reviewer SteveO’s take on Ichabod!

At first and ethanol esthery pungent aroma, followed by pure-pumpkin, with a hint of brown sugar, and interestingly enough butterscotch. Taste – malt forward. Nice amber ale-base from the start of the palete. From mid palete to finish, sweet cinnamon followed pure pumpkin doesn’t overwhelm, and ends with a subtle hint of nutmeg. Mouthfeel – light to medium bodied. Effervescence is low but pleasant. Amount of pumpkin – just the right amount of pumpkin with being too overkill.

As far as pumpkin beers go, I think this is a hit! The pumpkin flavor and fall spices blend perfectly with this solid amber ale. I’m not one for the overly sweet, over-produced, pumpkin pie in a glass. I enjoy a beer WITH pumpkin flavor. This reminds of Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale, one of my favorites. It’s a balanced golden-amber ale with the essence of pumpkin. I give the Ichabod a solid 90 out of 100.

Up now, my take on Ichabod:

Few stories capture palpable terror at an early age as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, which has gripped an audience by their quaking hands as they held the Irving short story in their trembling, or as they attempted to clutch the remote while entranced by the Tim Burton feature film. Even with a healthy dose of skepticism, our visceral id wants to believe that a decapitated Hessian rides at night seeking vengeance and beheading his victims. This ale, aptly from New Holland Brewing, pays homage to that vital character at America’s Halloween. This amber ale shows a slightly cloudy body with no head and lacing, and smells of the sweet pumpkin one might expect the Hessian to throw. Accompanying the pumpkin is a spicy cinnamon with just a slight nutmeg edge. With a malt forward taste, brown sugar and caramel accompany copious amounts of sugar pumpkins, but have their sweetness hacked by spicing with a prominent heat-bearing cinnamon in it’s finish. It’s no surprise that this mild-mannered ale is named for Mr. Crane and not the Horseman himself. I almost expect the two to be sitting down for afternoon tea and biscuits, severed head and all with an ale this calm, instead of galloping across the countryside and halting at covered bridges.

A solid, non-daring pumpkin ale, but at least it has real pumpkin (Pumpkinhead, I’m looking at you) – would love to taste Ichabod’s raging foil, tho. 85/100

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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Saucony Creek Brewing Company – Maple Mistress Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Up first, special guest reviewer Kathryn’s take on Maple Mistress!

I’m sure there is an opera character out there who could be called the Maple Mistress. Though she sounds more like Strawberry Shortcake’s slutty Friend. Like most operatic characters this beer is pretty epic with a 9.2% alcohol content and a strong spice on the nose. However, this gal is a sly one. I expected a much darker hue, but she pours a light chestnut. I also expected a saccharine taste given the ABV, but the cinnamon, nutmeg, and butternut still come out clear, and the sweetness isn’t overpowering. It starts surprisingly fizzy with plenty of carbonation and has a nice dry finish. Still sweet, this squash-based beer from Saucony Creek is full-bodied yet dangerously drinkable, best had on a chilly evening with your mistress or gypsy lover. 88/100


And now, Alex’s take on Maple Mistress Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

Maple Mistress summons the cutting remarks of Anne Bonny’s cutting remarks to her soon to be executed fellow pirate lover Capt. Jack Rachman after the British Navy overtook his ship, “Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog” with a bold, brassy imperial pumpkin ale that will make a scallywag out of the drinkers of weak pumpkin ales. Pouring a dull amber with a head of fine froth, this ale releases an aroma of rich butternut squash and the promise of oncoming rum notes. This medium-bodied ale boards up into itself a loud flavor waiting to be unleashed with more butternut squash than pumpkin stacked flapjacks doused heavily in maple syrup. There is a slight burn from this almost 10% ale about halfway thru a sip of this ale, but it burns in a pleasant way as though giving you fire for sea legs. Unlike most other rum-influenced pumpkin ales, this mistress allow for her spiciness to complement instead of clock the vegetal heartiness of the butternut squash and pumpkin, adding balanced amounts of cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla to the savory blend. As though sailing off after a successful pillaging of the palate, this ale finishes in a rum-caked maple syrup sweetness that lingers long after the incident itself.

The manga-inspired, pancake-bearing wench on the label may play for lighter crowd appeal, but actually detracts in my mind from the ale itself and the vicissitude enducing power of terror that these piratical maids of all sorts actually possessed. As though it had been stored in a rum flask, this ale drops anchor into solid pumpkin territory while not losing any of it’s swashbuckling balls…errrrr, breasts. 90/100


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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Coney Island Brewing – Freaktoberfest Big Ol’ Pumpkin Ale with Epsresso Beans (2015)

Returning guest reviewer Dave’s thoughts on Freaktoberfest Big Ol’ Pumpkin Ale with Espresso Beans:

Aroma – A kind of savory roastiness. Not really espresso, but more of a smoke. Not much spicing either.
Mouthfeel – Not as sweet as I was expecting. Bit of peppery tinge to it.
Taste – Full and roasty. Cinnamon/pepper spice. Not a whole lot of espresso or pumpkin spicing. Maybe a bit of dry, bitter coffee bean on the finish.
Overall – A good beer, but not a great pumpkin beer. (And far better than their previous Freaktoberfests) 78/100

And now, Alex’s take:

Freaktoberfest is a pumpkin ale that has taken on a variety of manifestions, like a child unable to land upon just one Halloween costume to go trick-or-treating while wearing. This year, with it’s mouthful of a title, it pours a copper hue and has a nose eerily close to what smells like spicy peppers, and not espresso as one might assume. The punch of flavor lives up to it’s surprise inducing carnival title and tastes of sweet pumpkin puree spiced with all-spice and mild cinnamon and nutmeg on a roasted oat body. In the finish, and more once this ale warms, what I’m judging to be the epresso beans start to smoothly creep thru, but without richness. It’s more like a shot of espresso pulled from McDonald’s coffee.

If this ale were a Legos kit, it would have pieces that belong to three different sets. Sometimes knights in space on a pirate ship are fun, just not in my beer. 71/100


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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Two Roads Brewing Company- Roadsmary’s Baby (2015)

Up now, guest reviewer Russ’ take on Roadsmary’s Baby!

It is safe to say that arranging for your wife to be ravaged by the Devil himself and birth his horrific offspring is not the typical approach to starting a family in the city. The Stratford, CT-based brewers also opt for “the road less traveled” here by aging their pumpkin ale in rum barrels. They do not indicate how long they age it, so we’ll assume it is quite young –- increasing the likelihood Roman Polanski would be attracted to it. I’m typically as tolerant of the heavy vanilla character that Caribbean rum barrels impart as Mia Farrow’s anorexically vanilla character is of suspicious abnormalities in her pregnancy. Which is to say I’m really fine with it, and with Two Roads’ addition of vanilla beans, you’d expect a full on vanilla assault from this beer. That does not happen, as the 6.8% offering is surprisingly subdued in terms of richness.

The now-classic packaging on this popular line actually plays better on the high-contrast can than on a bottle. Despite a reasonable head on the dark amber pour, the nose is almost non-existent, just a faint whiff of metallic spice. Or maybe that’s just cold season congestion speaking. Roadsmary hits the front of the palate with aggressive carbonation and a bright and light feel that seems to place it closer to the summer than the winter side of autumn drinking. The real pumpkin –- artificial flavors be damned — lands in the middle of the sip gulp with more of a sweet pie filling quality than squash-like taste. The underwhelming vanilla and hint of nutmeg come through late, and are followed by a mildly bitter spice aftertaste. It doesn’t linger and is the only inkling of a hop character. The overall experience isn’t bad, but certainly lacks the life-affirming intensity of a marital squabble with John Cassavetes.

All in all, Roadsmary is an easy drinkin’ yet reasonably flavorful pumpkin beer that could be purchased by the twelver and consumed en masse without filling you up. As if you’re drinking for two (plus the wrathful post-partum army of Hell).

Score: 73/100

Side Note: Because anagrams play into the mystery in Rosemary’s Baby, I was trying to find an appropriate one for Roadsmary, but the best I could create were “ass bay by ramrod” and “a brassy boy dram,” neither of which made much sense.


And now, Alex’s take:

(In preparation & celebration for Brit pumpkin’s soon-to-be-born Son)

One would expect Lucifer’s spawn in alcoholic ale form to bear some traits of both mother and fallen angel father, so it is unsurprising that this canned pumpkin beer permeates the air with an incredibly complex combination of scents. Smelling simultaneously of brown sugar malts, rum, vanilla beans, and, last but not least, pumpkin, it pours unsheathed from it’s can a dark shade of russet. Scent set aside, this baby’s flavor is equally a battle of lighter versus darker flavors, layering back and forth between sinister rum, meek vanilla, warm brown sugar, spicy cinnamon, splintering oak, and edgy nutmeg. This malt-fortressed ale combines with the vanilla bean for a crumbly crust, and the rum soaked brown sugar almost conjures up a sensation of plums or raisins. Thankfully, among this smorgasbord of a combination, there is no tannis root.

This ale might not glow as red as Adrian’s eyes, but it will certainly summon up your inner demon with it’s boozy sweet charm. 75/100


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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


10 Barrel Brewing Company – Jamaican Me Pumpkin (2015)

I hate puns. I also hate plays on words. At this point, my loathing for such things has spread beyond my closest kin to the knowledge of friendly acquaintances. I also hate rum. That all being said, I managed to look past an oddly chosen name for a Jamaican Rum barrel-aged imperial pumpkin ale, and the fact that the barrel was rum and not my beloved whiskey, and saw only a delightful red wax seal and a new pumpkin ale to imbibe. This hazy light brown ale, when held to the light, had flickers of a reddish tint and smelled surprisingly not like rum at all, but like an innocently funky sour ale with apples and plums in the nose. Upon actual taste, the rum notes are definitely there coating what gasping for air pumpkins exist before fading into smooth sugar cane and a hint of oak from the wood of the barrel. What spicing occurred before barreling adds only to the density of the mouthfeel and the unfiltered quality of the pour, but doesn’t cut thru anywhere else.

As it warms, the sweetness of the rum takes on a sour shadow, as though identifying as a different kind of ale. This is a fork in the road ale where one could choose the rum road or the sour road. I’m not saying I’d take the one less traveled, but the road with a tart tinge tends to capture my interest more than a non-descript rum pumpkin ale. 80/100


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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


AntiVillain Ale Co. – Golden Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Up now, Dave Burke’s guest review of Anti Villain Ale Co. – Golden Pumpkin Ale!

Aroma – a vague clove-y/ginger hybrid. Bit of vegetation.
Mouthfeel – Thin and dry. Slight astringency on the finish.
Taste – Lots of dry, bitter vegetation. A hint of spicing, but nowhere near the degree most breweries strive for these days.
Overall – While I appreciate the cause of such a progressive brewery, a better beer may generate more revenue.


And now, Alex’s take:

Befitting their appropriately inked-in label of a superhero, this new brewery is acting out in support of clean water projects by donating 50% of their profits to fund these projects directly. I love noble causes and I love beer – already, I want this ale to vanquish it’s competition. Pouring a bright sunshine orange, this ale has a scent heavy-laden with sweet pumpkin and spicy cinnamon. With a light body, two different cinnamons and a whole bag of nutmeg come across surprisingly heavy-handed. The nutmeg, in particular, lingers bitterly far past the rest of this golden ale and it’s welcome. This ale is in a fledgling stage of discovering it’s own identity as a crime-fighter. It needs to pick a cause beyond basic spicing, and go big in that direction.

I love their cause, but they need to focus on the strengths of what hero they want to choose as their identity, and brew with that defined character. 72/100


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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in 2015 Reviews


Dogfish Head – Punkin Ale (2015)

Up first, guest reviewer Justin’s take on Dogfish Head Beer – Punkin Ale!

While not a perfect balance, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale has a thin start, but finishes strong. Spicy, smooth, warm but refreshing. It’s unfortunate that we only see this beer toward the end of the year, this seasonal would make an excellent summer retreat. This ale may be headless almost immediately after pouring, but it is not lacking in heart. The color really gives the feeling of autumn with a deep amber orange cone towards it’s core, brightening from gold to a pale yellow as you move closer to the edges. Allspice and Cinnamon really come to life in Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, but the promising taste of actual pumpkin flavor seems to be missing.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale would not be my absolute first choice for a pumpkin beer, but it certainly is a contender, this year marks Punkin Ale’s 20th anniversary and with 20 years to perfect their recipe, Dogfish has crafted a gem in a sea of autumn seasonals. 85/100


And now, Alex’s take:

Punkin Ale has been keeping me on my toes finding them each year, not for lack of distribution and volume, but because they switch up their label art. This year find’s us looking at the elegantly tattooed back of a woman in an evening gown – seeing as I just got a back tattoo and frequently wear gowns to sing opera in, I couldn’t love this bit of art more if I tried. Pouring a deep and clear honey hue, Punkin has noticeable cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar in it’s nose. With meaty chunks of pumpkin, this ale is releases far more flavor at a slightly warmer temperature allowing the brown sugar malt to stir up the cinnamon & nutmeg, which were more noticeable in the aroma, and all-spice. In past years, the all-spice took on a far more dominant role, but this year sits back somewhat subdued. After the spicing and pumpkin fade a little, caramel malt kicks in and takes this ale home.

Punkin has always walked the line of sweet and savory well, without tripping into either side, but it has mellowed out a little this year, like a tatted-up former Punk who’s Sex Pistols shirt that is now hidden by a baby Bjorn. 83/100


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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in 2015 Reviews