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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.

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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.

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