Monthly Archives: October 2012

St-Ambroise Citrouille

Beer: St-Ambroise Citrouille (The Great Pumpkin Ale)
Brewery: McAuslan Brewing
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Clear, deep mahogany body with tons of carbonation bubbles that make the glass look like it’s frosted. There was a tan head that disappeared nearly instantly.

Smell: This smells exactly how I want every Pumpkin Ale to smell. Yes, it has pumpkin pie spices in the nose, but it’s the freshly roasted pumpkin aroma that defines the smell. A little molasses and brandy note, as well.

Flavor: SUPREME! This tastes like my mother’s pumpkin pie + a really decent amber ale. There are subtle cinnamon and nutmeg flavors sprinkled over a sweet, biscuity/crusty flavor. And then the best part: the REAL pumpkin taste! It tastes like a gen-u-ine pumpkin, and thankfully, that flavor lingers long after your last sip.

Feel: Thin body, perfectly carbonated.

Concluding Remark: Quebec’s McAuslan had set a high bar for itself by naming its brew, “The Great Pumpkin Ale.” Luckily for them (and us!), its moniker is 100% accurate.  This is The Great(est) Pumpkin Ale–or should I say Citrouille Ale–I have had this season. It doesn’t taste like a caricature of a pumpkin pie, or like a generic pumpkin pie, or like a spice cabinet. Instead, the flavors are both subtle and distinct, and actually taste like the ingredients, as opposed to tasting like artificial flavors. Incroyable, McAuslan et votre Ale de Citrouille!

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Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

Beer: Pumpkin Ale
Brewery: Blue Point Brewing Company
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6.0%

Serving Style: Draft
Drinking Establishment: World of Beer, Savannah, GA
Primary Consumer: Ally
Consumption Companion: Morgan and Jorge, comic book geniuses who know their beer, too.

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Medium reddish amber color, with a very thin cream-colored head when served.

Smell: A sweet aroma is present, but unexpectedly, so is a floral one.

Flavor: Not as pumpkin-y as one would expect (or hope for).  It actually has a bit of a sour taste to it.

Feel: Light and smooth in mouthfeel.

Concluding Remark: New York’s Blue Point Brewing Company knows how to pack in flavor (their Blueberry Ale is maybe too blueberry-y) but unfortunately, their Pumpkin Ale doesn’t quite fit that standard.  Although it’s a pleasant beer in general, for a pumpkin beer, it needs a bit more going on in the flavor department, particularly a hint of spice.  It’s not terribly memorable, especially when you’re at World of Beer’s PumpkinFest and are surrounded by delicious offerings of pumpkin ale on tap like we were.

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Terrapin Pumpkinfest

Beer: Pumpkinfest
Brewery: Terrapin Beer Company
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6.1%

Serving Style: Draft
Drinking Establishment: World of Beer, Savannah, GA
Primary Consumer: Ally
Consumption Companion: Dane, a fellow sequential artist and lover of beer.

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Relatively clear body with a darkish amber coloration.  Only a slight head when served.

Smell: Oddly enough, it smells exactly like a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Flavor: The taste alludes to a sweetness that is present in the smell, but that belies this beer’s clove-y nature.

Feel: Light bodied, with just a light fizzle on the tongue.

Concluding Remark: The Terrapin Beer Company, out of Athens, GA, says that this seasonal brew “encompasses your Thanksgiving spread in one tasty sip.”  That’s a lot to live up to–and although we wouldn’t necessarily say it covers all of Thanksgiving in a single swig, it has a pleasant balance of spice and pumpkin and a flavor that makes it worth ordering again.  While it might not be an entire holiday in a glass, it’ll give you that nice fall feeling.

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Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Beer: Punkin Ale
Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7.0%

Serving Style: Draft
Drinking Establishment: World of Beer, Savannah, GA
Primary Consumer: Ally

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Clear orange/amber coloration with little-to-no head when served, but a ring of creaminess lingered around the rim of the glass.

Smell: Spiced–cinnamon and cloves, particularly.  The malts come across as a slight burnt note (this might be from the brown sugar that’s in the mix as well), and there’s a bit of yeastiness in there, too.

Flavor: Like a sweet brown ale with the perfect balance of pumpkin and spice thrown in.  It’s autumn in a pint glass.

Feel: A solid mouthfeel, with medium-to-high carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Named after a ridiculous Delaware festival called Punkin Chunkin, Dogfish Head’s seasonal pumpkin offering is, too, ridiculous–ridiculously AWESOME.  Seriously, this is a classic in the pumpkin beer line-up, in that it’s exactly what you’d expect from a pumpkin beer: malty goodness, a bit of sweetness from the brown sugar, spices, and, of course, pumpkin.  All of these flavors in balance make for a pretty substantial drink, perfect for chilly fall nights–but it’s not so bold as to taste like the 7.0% ABV it contains.  Dare I say it’s fun to drink?  I do.  I dare.  It is one of the best amalgamations of beer & delicious pie to cross my palate.  There’s a reason why it’s usually sold out everywhere by Thanksgiving–so if you find a store that has it, stock up; or better yet, find a bar that serves it on tap, and settle in for a fine autumn evening.

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Tommyknocker Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Beer: Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale
Brewery: Tommyknocker Brewery
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Dark, nearly opaque coffee body with a wisp of a head.

Smell: Rich roasted malts with thick molasses and raisin aromas. A hint of nutmeg, but all in all this is an earthy nose.

Flavor: In this case, this beer tastes exactly how it smells. Roasted malts dominate, but there are undertones of molasses, fresh pumpkin, and the slightest bit of allspice. Little to no aftertaste.

Feel: Watery with minimal carbonation. It’s a pretty weak mouthfeel.

Concluding Remark: Well, Tommyknocker from Colorado gets points for developing a Pumpkin Ale that differs from the others. This beer is the Pumpkin Ale’s dark, brooding younger sibling. It wears dark clothes and is a little eccentric, but it hasn’t quite figured out its identity yet. Yeah, the molasses adds a unique sweetness to the roasted malt base and the spices brighten the brew. However, the flavors aren’t as intense as they should be, and it just tastes weird. While it’s not as exciting as I was hoping it to be, the Small Patch Ale is a nice break from all of the light, pumpkin spice dessert beers. It’s worthy of a try, though, if you prefer your ales malty or if you’re looking to expand your Pumpkin Ale repertoire.

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Ithaca Country Pumpkin

Beer: Country Pumpkin
Brewery: Ithaca Beer Company
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6.3%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: It looks like a freshly picked pumpkin. It’s a bit hazy and bright orange with no head.

Smell: It falls into the pumpkin pie category with insanely vibrant cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet pumpkin, and clove aromas. Malts  are there but take a backseat to the holiday baked goods smell.

Flavor: Sadly, it’s not as delicious as it smells. The flavors are slightly muddled–where are the initial spice aromas? However, there is a nice fleshly pumpkin taste that is infused in the mellow malts.

Feel: Thin-medium body with prickly carbonation. It leaves a slightly oily feeling in the mouth.

Concluding Remark: Overall, Ithaca Beer Company’s Country Pumpkin is light, refreshing, with a nice hint of pumpkin and pie (rather than a pumpkin pie in the face). I wouldn’t call it memorable, just as you wouldn’t the store bought pumpkin pie your lazy friend brought to a holiday party. However, just like that pie, you’ll drink this without hesitation, but will go looking for something to blow your mind once you’re finished with it. And on that note…

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Harpoon Pumpkin UFO

Beer: Pumpkin UFO
Brewery: Harpoon Brewing
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.9%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: It looks like pumpkin puree; cloudy pumpkin-colored body with no head.

Smell: Now this is pumpkin pie in a pint. Actually, it’s more like pumpkin AND apple pie. Two for one..score!

Flavor: Not quite as sweet and delicious as it smells, the prominent flavors are caramel malts, cinnamon, pie crust, and bananas (surprise–it’s a Hefeweizen!)

Feel: Medium body and well carbonated.

Concluding Remark: Furthering our exploration of Pumpkin-enhanced beers, Harpoon’s offering is a seasonal spin on their staple unfiltered Hefeweizen, the UFO. Hefeweizens are known for sweet biscuit and banana flavors, and those flavors complement UFO’s overall pumpkin goodness. While this really does taste just like a pumpkin pie, there’s also a wee bit of hops that prevent this beer from being way too sweet to keep drinking. Well played, Harpoon. I will now go and consume five more. It’s light, easy to drink, and while it might not be the most complex beer of all time, it’s a damn fine Hefeweizen AND Pumpkin Ale.

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Cisco Brewers Pumple Drumkin

Beer: Pumple Drumkin
Brewery: Cisco Brewers, Inc.
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Pours a clear amber with an inch of beige head that quickly recedes. There are some rising carbonation bubbles.

Smell: Never have I smelled a more harmonious blend of hops and spice. There are equal parts flowery hops aroma and sharp allspice aroma.

Flavor: This is one hoppy Pumpkin Ale. In fact, the initial herbal hops presence is so strong that it nearly overpowers any pumpkin or spice taste. However, if you let it breathe, there are some nice mellow malt flavors and a hint of pumpkin.

Feel: Pretty thin with full carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Cisco Brewers, hailing from the fancy New England island of Nantucket, produces one of the hoppier Pumpkin Ales that I have encountered. Brewed with local Nantucket pumpkins, this Pumpkin Ale doesn’t rely on the pumpkin pie spices that many of its peers do. If you want to celebrate the season of holiday brews, but aren’t ready to put down your favorite IPA, give Cisco’s Pumple Drumkin a go. It will satiate your desire for the festive and hoppy.

BTW: What the heck is a Pumple? A Drumkin? The label infers that ‘pumple’ is a noun and ‘drumkin’ is the name of this ‘pumple.’ And that the pumple wobbles like a bumpkin. Is this New England humor? I don’t know.

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Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout

Beer: Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout
Brewery: Cape Ann Brewing Company
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: It looks like engine oil with a full tan head.

Smell: Overwhelmingly smoky, it almost reminds me of a Slim Jim (or, a Rauchbier in beer terms). A burnt, bitter dark chocolate is the other prominent aroma.

Flavor: As it smells, there’s a bitter chocolate note and a burnt malt backbone. It’s a little milky, a little smoky, and a lot of not tasting like pumpkin. If you look for it, you can detect a trace of nutmeg, but otherwise there are no Pumpkin Ale characteristics. A bitter rotting wood flavor develops at the end.

Feel: Thin body with full carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Well, I can’t say that I have ever had a Pumpkin Stout before trying Cape Ann Brewing’s Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout. Perhaps I’m not qualified to make a judgment call. However, I will. This is hands down the most bizarre Pumpkin-related beer I have tried. While I can imagine how a stout could be made more awesome by the addition of pumpkin and spices, something went awry here. Nothing about this Fisherman’s brew resembles a Pumpkin Ale. Clearly our Fisherman was caught in a storm at sea and missed Thanksgiving dinner.

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Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale

Beer: Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale
Brewery: Lion Brewery
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.5%

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Clear copper body with no head.

Smell: It smells like putting your face into a cold pumpkin pie. If ever there was to be a beer that smelled exactly like the most generic LIBBY’S® Famous Pumpkin pie, this is it. It smells just like pumpkin spiced with clove, nutmeg, and allspice. There’s even a waft of pie crust in here, too.

Flavor: Sadly, it doesn’t taste as ‘I WANT PIE RIGHT NOW’ as it smells. Instead, it tastes like clove-flavored water. As it sits, it starts to develop an almost unpleasant sour, rotting pumpkin flavor.

Feel: Quite watery with moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark:  Stegmaier’s Pumpkin Ale is fine as a quick fix for your pumpkin craving. You’ll get a little of the ubiquitous spice, and there’s a pumpkin on the label. However, the more you let it sit (and it will sit because you won’t be compelled to drink it immediately), the more it tastes like a bar of bland soap (like, clean linens or crisp air). At least some of the spices mask the soapiness, but you won’t be completely satisfied and might go off looking for pie instead.

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