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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

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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

 

Fat Head’s Brewery – Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2015)

Up now, guest reviewing favorite Tim’s take on Fat Head’s Brewery Spooky Tooth!

Pours a robust clearish copper. The nose is, expectedly, pretty boozey, with cinnamon and nutmeg along as sidekicks. The overt alcohol fortunately doesn’t carry over to the taste. Burnt caramel and hefty, but not overdone, spice and a bit of alcohol sweetness that melds into the pumpkin. There’s not a ton of pumpkin, but there’s so much going on here and it’s so evenly balanced that I don’t think that’s a knock on it. Though the spice is a bit more prominent than pumpkin, it ends up coming off as subtle rather than disappointing.

Rich, thick and creamy, this is exactly what I wanted in my mouth. “Imperial” and “pumpkin” are two terms that usually run away screaming from even the -direction- of being nuanced, but the big beer brains inside the eponymous Fat Head cracked the code. 89/100

And now, my take:

Over the past few seasons, my eyes have searched for pumpkin ales beyond the confines of Massachusetts state lines. Spooky Tooth was on the list from Season One, and, finally, is joining the prestigious line of pumpkin beers consumed by moi. Imperial Pumpkin Ales that come in small packaging should always be approached with a wary eye – that high ABV will sneak up on you before you realize that you’re done in halfway thru the beer you’ve innocently numbered #3. Pouring a bubbly, clear dark amber, Spooky Tooth has a mature aroma of smoky brown sugar and cinnamon, like pipe tobacco in thickness. Tasting incredibly smooth for a 9% imperial, this ale relies mainly on a dense malt that creates a pie crust-like effect with a moderate amount of pumpkin. The pumpkin is kept simple without any gaudy spicing – just a subtle amount of cinnamon and all-spice.

A stoic, refined take on pumpkin. No flashy business, no gimmick, but, with a malt body like this, not for that faint or sweet of heart. 84/100

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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Schlafly Beer – Pumpkin Ale (2015)

There are those particularly wonderful friends we have in our lives that, no matter how much time passes, we all just seamlessly pick back up where we left off with them, as though only a day had passed since our last moment of revelling in each other’s glory. Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale is that pumpkin beer to me; the pumpkin beer that I call “old friend”, after drinking in it’s annual intoxicating glory. This jewel-like copper ale begins, as many pumpkin ales do, with a pleasing aroma of cinnamon, cloves, and squashy pumpkins all twisted together in a sweet gift for the air. However, it does not end there – this pumpkin backs up every pie-like promise awakened by it’s perfume. With a solid foundation of pumpkin meat on a biscuity malt, the syrupy feel to this ale swirls the perfect marriage of nutmeg and cinnamon to pumpkin. And, just to add a touch of panache, dashes in a little heat garnering cloves and warms you from inside to out.

This is, at it’s very core, quite literally pumpkin pie in a bottle. And there’s ALWAYS room for pie. If I were Cinderella, I’d say f*ck the ball, and let that coach turn back into a pumpkin if this is the pumpkin that I’d be given at midnight. 100/100

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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Pinchy Jeek Barl (2015

This ruby hued bark brown ale smells of sugary caramel and faint bourbon with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The lightness of the body almost sucker punches you from a much denser aroma,but the aging from the Wild Turkey bourbon barrels pours into your tastes first filled with both a dry oakiness and smooth bourbon notes. The body of the aged ale is almost too light for any of the spicing to land, resulting in a watery coconut flavor with deep pockets of creamy vanilla and buttery caramel which the pumpkins shyly poke their heads through only to disappear in the vastness of a buttery popcorn malt.

Not quite enough bourbon to satisfy my barrel-aged loving soul, but too watery for any of it’s varied heavy hitting flavors to not become too jarringly intense after a short span of drinking. The turkey on the label is a jauntier delight than this ale to me, though, and reminds me of the King Turkey of Brookline or The Harvard Turkey, an entrepreneur, who’s Facebook page you need to like. —–> https://www.facebook.com/harvardturkey 81/100

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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Evil Genius Beer Company – Trick or Treat Pumpkin Porter (2015)

No style of pumpkin beer makes me miss my pregnant ready to pop partner in pumpkin crime more than the pumpkin porter party. It’s Nicola’s favorite, and one that few have knocked me off my feet over, usually due to too much smoke choking out the rest of the flavors. Evil Genius has brewed a richly brown porter that gives off glints of red when held to the light, and bears a generous dollop of coffee-colored foam. The aroma is almost exclusively creamy milk chocolate with a flicker of roasted malt. Could any beer taste like a melted Hershey bar? Trick or Treat comes pretty damn close, with chocolate playing both the leading actor and actress in this play, but is nicely supported by a light earthy, toasted malt, mild cinnamon, rich vanilla, and pumpkins that appear right before the curtain.

This Wonka river of chocolate porter dunks the Augustus Gloop-headed pumpkins for as long as it can before they gasp long enough to be a tasty treat, making this my top pic for pumpkin porters. 91/100

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Posted by on October 17, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Somerville Brewing – Slumbrew – Slumkin Pumpkin Ale (2015)

With releases of consistently delicious beers one right after the other, I had always wished on star after star that Slumbrew, from my adopted hometown of Somerville, would show everyone how to brew a delicious pumpkin beer. I must’ve finally picked the right one, because this year, Slumbrew has brewed not one, but two pumpkin brews. Slumkin pours a warm shade of amber and bears an aroma that smells richly of actual pumpkin without hiding behind a perfumed mask of an entire spice rack. The smooth onset releases it’s sweet malts in a cordial-like manner, allowing the natural pumpkin’s vegetal state to be wrapped with vanilla and caramel all swirled up into a buttery blanket. If you’re looking for an exploded bottle of cloves or cinnamon, you’ll have to move past this one. The spicing is classily muted. Unlike other pumpkin beers, Slumbrew is unapologetic in their approach to the gourd. They have treated the orange guest of honor by allowing it’s crispness and crunch to do all the speaking, and finding a hop balance that peeks through in the finish that gives Slumkin street cred in the non-pumpkin categories of beer, as well.

The black trench coat of pumpkin beers: sleek, clean, warming, and what hides beneath the surface is exciting as hell. 93/100

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Posted by on October 16, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Samuel Adams – Pumpkin Batch (2015)

Up first, guest reviewers Luke and Hannah’s take on Samuel Adams Pumpkin Batch!

A crisp fall color with a head that dissipates quickly. This beer is clearer than you’d expect with a steady stream of bubbles rising to the top. Upon first whiff, our noses are hit with a sour citrusy aroma. Luke is intrigued by the smell, Hannah is not so sure. The first sip comes along with an explosive burst of flavor, which disappears as fast as it appeared. A strong hit of carbonation fizzes through your mouth kick-starting the flavor. The pumpkin is definitely there up front, but a disappointing showing in the long haul. While the initial taste has a pleasant pumpkin flavor, it dies very quickly. We’re not going to sugar coat it: the aftertaste is not good…reminiscent of the grogginess of when you first wake up in the morning. Please don’t go make out after drinking this beer. Perhaps it was made with the leftover pumpkins from a different pumpkin beer? With each new sip, we hope that the pumpkin flavor will last, but alas, it continues to vanish. We are going to have to find creative ways to use up the remaining 4 bottles in the six-pack we purchased, as this is not a beer to serve at a party… unless you want all of your guests to leave. 40/100

And now, for Alex’s take:

Deciding to switch up a seasonal brew is always an exciting new kid at school addition for any brewery, and the anticipation I’ve felt at the thought of Samuel Adam’s Pumpkin Batch, a pumpkin saison, has been palpable. Readers from past seasons may recall my dislike for both Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Fat Jack – surely Pumpkin Batch could turn the pumpkin tides for my adopted hometown’s beloved (so big it’s almost not) micro-brewery. This saison pours a clear golden orange with only trace amounts of lacing. For a pumpkin ale, the aroma doesn’t contain any of the usual suspects for spices, just a healthy dose of flowery Belgian yeast. Though real pumpkin, ginger, and all-spice all claim to be in this beer, the only people at this ummmm party? are meekly roasted malts, some nutmeg, and even less cinnamon, along with the yeast from the aroma which creates a chalky aftertaste.

This tastes like an off-off brand of regular Sam Adams that accidentally got packaged in pumpkin beer bottles. Sorry, pumpkin beer strike three, you are OUT. 43/100

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Posted by on October 15, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Cambridge Brewing Company – BRAAAAAAAINS Pumpkin IPA (2015)

Pumpkin IPAs provide the white whale to the pumpkin beer genre: will we ever catch a taste of that damn elusive pumpkin through a sea of hops? Sharing a kinship with Captain Ahab and Ron Swanson alike, I’m willing to try again and again and again. CBC has provided us with a translucent sunflower-colored IPA that smells richly of being dry-hopped with Galaxy and other hops. Will the pumpkin make an appearance, especially with a name that summons a zombie level intensity of hunger and thirst? Not to this drinker, but the pie pumpkins do provide a hearty-bodied IPA with a juicy pear quality and a hop-blend edge that would shatter the brain of any walking dead.

A pumpkin IPA this fun-loving summons a more Shaun than Dawn of the Dead variety Zombie – time to dance to Queen and fight off the Living Dead with pool cues and BFFs. This IPA may also sway the non-pumpkin beer believer with a brew that doesn’t fit the norm of the mediocre masses. 85/100

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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Southern Tier Brewing Company – Warlock (2015)

Up now, Amber’s guest review of Warlock:

Pours clear but dark with no persistent head, nice lacing of bubbles across the surface. Nose of burnt caramel sugar, like you imagine candy tasted when you were little. Upon tasting, tiny champagne bubbles tickle the tongue. This beer is heavily boozy, the alcohol note is overwhelming and could put out those who don’t like a high octane beer. Squash notes at the end but very little spice if any.

Note: Spice presents more when warm but as this is poured cold I reviewed at temp.

This comes in a 22oz bottle of candy corn scented stout goodness. This bottle either says “share me with a friend!” Or “Carry me around the costume party drinking straight from the bottle!”, I’ll let you guess my method of choice. Due to the high booze nature (10%) it’s definitely a sipping beer, but packs a whallop no matter what, so call the car service of your choice and enjoy that bottle, you deserve it! Score: 85/100, I want more spice, gosh darn it.

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And now, my take on Warlock:

Some forms of black magic have longer staying power when coupled with particularly powerful conjurers, and the imperial stout that Southern Tier introduced a couple years back hit the pumpkin beer drinking world with a powerful holding spell. Would the magic still be there in my third year of drinking it? Pouring the same deep black with tints of red in the light, something seemed different. The body seemed lighter, and the once opaque imperial now had a much clearer appearance when light penetrated it’s vast darkness. The aroma released a roasted caramel and vanilla sugary waft with just a touch of chocolate to it. This 10%er hits with a lot of forward roasted malt and dark chocolate combined with big pumpkin that manages to cut thru the dense smoke. Once this stout begins to warm, more butterscotch notes peek through with a vanilla swirl and faint cardamom, all sealed off with an alcohol burn in the finish that wasn’t there in past years.

This Warlock is a little battle weary with a lighter mouthfeel, surlier booziness, and not as much spicing to balance it all out. Still potent, but less youthful in the joys of chocolate pumpkin dessert. 84/100

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Posted by on October 13, 2015 in 2015 Reviews

 

Harpoon Brewery – Pumpkin UFO (2015)

This highly carbonated, unfiltered pumpkin ale pours a hazy, tawny orange and has a large amount of cinnamon and pumpkin in the nose with just a sprinkle of nutmeg. Just as it promised, this ale wastes not a chunk of pumpkin, packing them all in there on top of a malt body combining brown sugar sweetness and too little earthy barley. Adding their weight to try to tame these sweet pumpkins is a large dose of cinnamon – not quite Big Red, but definitely the comparable store brand Mediumish Red, in terms of cinnamon heat.

A little bit too much of a sweet smack in the finish – pumpkin needs a little more room to breathe and be earthier underneath a whorish amount of rouge…I mean cinnamon. 81/100

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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in 2015 Reviews