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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Ale Tripleheader!

We are closing out October with a tripleheader of pumpkin beers. So strap in folks and let us dive in!

Saranac Pumpkin Ale was my backup, my second choice. At one point in my early craft beer career I only really drank Post Road Pumpkin Ale for my pumpkin beer of the season. Then came a time when I couldn't find it so I had to find an alternative. Saranac's version was the first one I stumbled upon so I picked it up. It was one of those moments that lead to me discovering there was a whole other world out there for pumpkin brews because while I enjoyed it, I wasn't quite satisfied with it. Now though it is time to approach it again and take a closer look at it. 

Saranac Pumpkin Ale also doesn't go for the dessert angle instead focusing on the fruit aspect, though some of those qualities are present. It poured a clear copper color with a small tannish head. Allspice and cloves standout on the spice side of things, but they aren't overpowering. It is decently hopped but they are in the background. It is light on the palette, and finishes fairly dry with minimal aftertaste. Overall it is an easy drinker and not a challenging pumpkin ale. It comes in at an ABV of 5.4%. All this adds up to make Saranac Pumpkin Ale a good candidate to introduce folks to the joys of the style. 

Here's the "party line" on Saranac Pumpkin Ale:

Saranac Pumpkin Ale is brewed with Pumpkin, Cinnamon, Allspice, Cloves, Ginger and Vanilla. Look for a full-body and amber color. We're sure you'll enjoy this special brew!

Our second beer is RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale out of South Carolina. It poured a clear, dark orange color with a small white head. It is moderately carbonated and has a noticeable spice up front attitude. There is a spiced, sweet nature to this brew and those characteristics mask the pumpkin on the front end of things holding back that flavor until it suddenly appears at the end of the drink.  The beer finishes fairly dry with a lingering hop bitter aftertaste. This is one of those beers that improves as it warms up with the flavors becoming more full and rich. It comes in at a full and well-hidden 7% ABV. It is a solid effort by RJ Rockers which is a pleasant surprise. This isn't a beer to use to introduce the style, too many disparate elements going on that could be a turn off for novices. 

There is no "party line" on RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale so here is a second opinion instead by It's a Blog about the Beer

Our third and final beer is Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale out of Pennsylvania. It poured a clear light brown color with a small off white head. This is a big pumpkin pie style beer and it is another beer that really comes into its own when it is just shy of room temperature. You notice the big spices right out the gate. The smell will get in the nose even before you take a drink with the nutmeg and cloves barging their way to the front and the cinnamon tagging along. The pumpkin flavor is there but it stays wrapped up with the spices, never quite breaking free to establish its independence. It finishes dry with a spiced aftertaste that remains present for several minutes after. It comes in at a noticeable 8% ABV. I would recommend this at room temperature so the flavors and scents can really bloom, but this is a one bottle beer. Eventually the spice profile of this proves overpowering and starts to tire out the palette. While it is a very good beer, it is not a beer I would recommend as a starting point, and I would also be hesitant to promote it to anyone who wasn't a big fan of spices. If you pass those two hurdles though this is well worth checking out. 

Here is the "party line" on Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

Like a pyramid for a pharaoh, we set out to make a bold monument for The King of the Pumpkins! This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Perfect finisher on a cool autumn night, or match it up with a slice of pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream.
Happy Halloween everyone!

1 comment:

  1. IMHO, Williamsburg Alewerks "Pumpkin Ale" is one of, if not the best available. It leans heavily toward the dessert category, but the sweetness in nicely offset by the spot on spiciness. This is like pumpkin pie in a glass. But be careful, hiding beneath that sweet exterior is an almost detectable, and quite sneaky 8.00% ABV .