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Category Archives: 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.

57/100

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

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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