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Beer Review #140 Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale

I have yet another beer to share from Wolaver’s Organic Brewing, errr, Otter Creek Brewing. This one comes in the form of pumpkin ale, since it is now pumpkin beer season. I always go through a love/hate relationship with pumpkin beers around this time of year. I think part of the reason for this is that, frankly, there are not a lot of great pumpkin ales on the market. A lot of them are just normal ales with pumpkin pie spice added, that or the balance that needs to exist in this style of beer just doesn’t happen. I think it is a rare thing to find an outstanding pumpkin ale, but very easy to find one that is alright.

With my rant (was that really a rant?) complete, let’s see how Otter Creek Brewing of Middlebury, Vermont handles their pumpkin ale. They brew this beer with pumpkins from Vermont. The beer pours a nice orange color with a white head and a crystal clear body. The nose smells like a pumpkin ale. I got clove, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon on the spice end with some actual pumpkin meat in there as well. I’m always a fan of a pumpkin ale when it is more than just spices.

The taste is lacking in any malt character. The pumpkin pie spices are there, but they are not overpowering. I didn’t get any of the pumpkin meat either. I found the taste pretty underwhelming compared to the nose. This is a pretty decent pumpkin ale, but again, nothing really stands out. It does what it says but doesn’t have the wow factor that I had hoped for. It’s good if you are looking for a straightforward pumpkin beer but for me, it didn’t do anything to separate itself from the crowded shelves of other pumpkin ales. (more…)

Beer Review #134 Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter

Now if that isn’t one of the longest names for a beer ever I don’t know what is. Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter is brewed by Otter Creek Brewing of Middlebury, Vermont. The actual brewer of this beer is a bit of a mystery to me. Wolaver’s Organic Brewing is the brewery that this beer is named for, but I believe that it is owned by Otter Creek. Perhaps it is a separate brand of Otter Creek, kind of like how Blue Moon Brewing Company is a subset of Coors. Nomenclature aside, I tried their Oktoberfest last year and wasn’t a big fan of it, but I have had a few other beers of theirs and enjoyed them quite a bit.

Alt Gracia Coffee Porter is a certified organic beer and the label says it is, “brewed with coffee and vanilla beans.” Shocking, a coffee beer brewed with coffee! This porter pours a nice black color and has a thin tan head. I couldn’t tell if it was clear or not since it was so dark but clarity don’t make a whole hill of beans to me. Call it a homebrewer’s mentality. The nose has lots of rick coffee coming off of it. There is some dark bitter chocolate in there as well. The vanilla does make an appearance, but it isn’t overly strong. Thank God. Overall I would describe the smell of this beer as “earthy.”

On the first taste I was surprised at how smooth this beer is. All of the components flow nicely and evenly. There is a good amount of coffee and chocolate but they are not overpowering in anyway. This beer still has a porter feel. When I was drinking this porter I felt like it had a “milk shake” quality to it. I’m not sure how to describe that feeling, but drinking this beer reminded me of a watery milk shake. Chocolate.

This beer was wonderfully drinkable. Lots of bold flavors but they stayed restrained enough as to not take over or take away from the rest of the beer. This porter comes in at 5% ABV and I think it could be a great beer to have on the coming crisp fall days. If you are a fan of coffee beers  I think this one could be right up your ally. (more…)

Beer Review #73 Otter Creek Oktoberfest

I’ve never had an Otter Creek beer before, but I can’t help but pick up seasonal beers when I see them. Otter Creek Brewing Company is located in Middlebury, Vermont and their website doesn’t give much more detail on the company other than that. Doing a bit more research I found their earliest beer that is still in production was originally made in 1991. Our beer for today made its first appearance in 1995.  This Oktoberfest does not come in the normal blue and white diamonds, instead the bottle’s label is orange and has the Otter Creek crest prominently displayed.

The beer pours a nice orange color white a thin off-white head. The clarity is there as well. On the nose I got some slight caramel sweetness. There is no heat on the nose but there is a bit of hops. I also picked up a slight sulfur smell on the nose. I get sulfur on lager beers on a regular basis, but in Oktoberfest style beers the malt usually drowns it out.

The taste is surprisingly not malty at all. The main thing you notice is a harsh/strange ending in the beer. The sulfur is on the back-end as well and that might be contributing to the strange ending. There are a fair amount of hops in this beer, much more than what I would expect in a traditional Oktoberfest. Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest comes in at a very light 4.5% ABV. You could easily down a few of these and not have to worry about getting far gone. If this beer didn’t have the strange ending it does, it would be much more drinkable. I would say that there are much better examples of Oktoberfest beers out there. I’m not going to be purchasing this beer again next year. (more…)