My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, August 28th.
All of the typical signs are evident that summer is coming to an end and that fall is almost upon us; school began in most local districts this last week, the Champlain Valley Fair starts its 10-day run today and the summer green of the Vermont hillsides are slowly showing a hint of that blaze of color that will be dominant in a month or so.
I have been drinking a few pumpkin ales lately… ’tis the season for harvest-type ales, of course. I am not usually one for pumpkin beers… typically the spices are just a bit too much for me, but below is a run down of three of my most recent samplings… all of my RateBeer ratings can be found at http://www.ratebeer.com/user/10669/ratings/
Clipper City Brewing Co. – Heavy Seas – “The Great Pumpkin” (ABV 8.0%, 3.2/5.0)
Bottle/22 – Pours a nice “pumpkin” amber in color with a very small whitish head that fades to almost nothing… low carbonation. Aroma is slightly sweet and almost all pumpkin spice (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon,etc.) and nothing else. Flavor is a bit more complex. Some pumpkin, spices (as noted) and a bit of harsh, unpleasant alcohol character. Slightly bitter and astringent at the end. Lingering bitterness with little else.
Shipyard Brewing Company – “Smashed Pumpkin” (ABV 9.0%, 3.6/5.0)
Draft at Great Lost Bear (Portland, ME) – Poured a coppery amber in color with almost no head and very little carbonation. Aroma is malty and sweet with the expected pumpkin pie spices. Flavor is interesting. I am not usually one for pumpkin beer, but this one was actually quite good. What made it for me was the reasonable amount of spices that were used… not overpowering at all. Plenty of malty sweetness with just enough hops to keep it from being too sweet. This one is actually a good pumpkin beer…
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. – “Imperial Pumpkin Ale” (ABV 8.0%, 3.3/5.0)
Bottle/12 – Pours a quite dark orange-amber in color with almost no head and very little carbonation. Aroma is sweet and heavy with “pumpkin” spices… cinnamon. clove, nutmeg, etc. Flavor is not nearly as sweet as I expected, but nearly overpowering with spice. Pumpkin flavor is actually apparent and lends some moderation, along with the hops that sneak in underneath, to the malty sweetness. Finish is slightly bitter and clean… except for the lingering pumpkin spices, which I seem destined to (burp!) relive for a while. Beer is pretty good, actually, but too many spices… a common complaint that I have about this type of beer.
All-in-all I enjoyed all of these beers (I usually do), but the Shipyard “Smashed Pumpkin” really stood out as my favorite. Seek it out… you will not be sorry!!