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Beer Review #155 Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

I’ve already reached my last pumpkin beer of the year. I found myself in an Oktoberfest beer mood this ear and I didn’t purchase many pumpkin beers. I think part of the problem is that every brewery seems to want to be the first to get their pumpkin ale out. I saw some in late August! Not the time that I want to be drinking a pumpkin ale and by the time I do, like now, they are all gone. I hope the industry gets around to fixing that little issue.

I have had a few Blue Point Brewing Company beers before as they have recently become available in my area. Overall, I have to give them a thumbs up. The brewery is located in Patchogue, New York and they seem to be grown at a decent clip. Their version of a pumpkin ale pours a nice copper color with a thin white head. There is no hazy like there was in my last pumpkin beer. They also managed to get the label the right side up. Good start.

The nose is very “pumpkiny,” with lots of actual pumpkin meat coming through. There are some of the normal spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc) mixed in along with some sweetness. On my first taste I was shocked at how sweet this beer was. There wasn’t any pumpkin pie spice bit to this beer, but rather a slow fade into pumpkin flavor. The slow pumpkin onset was really nice.

I really enjoyed this beer from Blue Point. It was a little sweet for my liking but the gradual change to pumpkin flavor made up for any extra sweetness. I found the bottle a bit interesting because it said, “malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spice.” I wonder if New York has some weird naming rule on beers where they need to be called a malt beverage if they fall into a certain category. In any case, this is a good one and I look forward to trying it out next year. (more…)

Beer Review #154 Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

It seems like the list of pumpkin beers grows every year. This year was no exception with many new beers coming out to the market or beers entering new areas. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the first beer that I have ever seen and tasted from the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. The first thing that drew me to this beer was that the label was put on upside-down. I guess that QA took the day off when they sent this batch out. Anyway, a label doesn’t take away from the liquid inside, but I am suspect of a brewery who doesn’t take care of details like this. It make me think, “if they don’t care about what their beer looks like, what else don’t they care about?”

This pumpkin ale pours a nice amber color with a bit of haze. There is an off-white head that floats on top of the beer below. The nose was nothing like what I had expected. It had some sour notes and that was about it. I didn’t get any spices, hops, malt, or pumpkins. Odd for a beer like this.

On my first taste I got a brief look at sweetness and then it was buried by spices and pumpkin flavor. The flavor was an unexpected surprise since the nose was so mild. There was a bit of a sour ending, but nothing like what the nose suggested.I also didn’t get any heat which I was expected for a 8.0% ABV beer.

I’m not sure what to think of this one. The pumpkin flavor is there, but not in a strong way and the spices are very deeply melded into the rest of the beer. I’ve heard from a few other people that this is a solid pumpkin beer so I’m going to assume that I got a bad bottle. It was still a good beer, but not what was promised. I’ll try it again next year to see if I can get a better sample of it.

Beer Review #143 New Belgium Lips of Faith Kick

I have reviewed a number of New Belgium Brewing Company beers in the past, but that was when I lived in Texas and had access to their brews. Since I moved back east, I haven’t been able to purchase any of their beers as they do not distribute to the four states I have access to (PA, DE, NJ, and MD). This month marks a change in my ability to get New Belgium beer as New Belgium is now distributing to Maryland. New Belgium Brewing Company is one of the largest craft breweries around and they really have a focus on green everything. They currently have their brewery located in Fort Collins, CO. There are some rumors that they will be opening a new, second brewery on the east coast in order to reduce shipping and the like. Asheville, NC seems to be the area they are targeting.

They are offering a few of their normal beers in 22 oz bottles for awhile while they test out the new market, but they also decided to ship three of their beers from their “Lips of Faith” series of beers. Today’s review, Kick, happens to be one of them. Kick comes in at 8.5% ABV and the bottle says that it is, “75% ale brewed with pumpkin and cranberry juice” and “25% ale aged in wooden barrels.” I’m not sure if I ever had a beer with cranberry juice in it before. Sweet.

Kick pours a flat orange with a slight haze and a white head. The nose is very sour, thanks to the cranberry juice I’m sure. There is some sweetness but the sourness really cuts it out of there. On my first taste I didn’t get any pumpkin in the flavor profile. There are lots of sour notes but not much pumpkin. There are some slight spices as the beer warms, but they really sit on the back-end of the beer after the sourness drops off of the tongue.

I really liked this beer. I have been on a sour beer kick for awhile and this one just helps add to my new love of the style. If you have New Belgium beer available in your area I suggest you try this one out. (more…)

Beer Review #142 The Greater Pumpkin

I mentioned that I went to the beer store looking for pumpkin ales and that I found one from Clipper City Brewing Company. What I didn’t mention is that I actually bought two pumpkin ales from Clipper City Brewing Company. The Great Pumpkin is another imperial pumpkin ale, but this time it is aged in bourbon barrels. They also kicked it up a percentage point, to 9% ABV, just for fun. I’d never had pumpkins and bourbon before, so this was an interesting experience.

The Greater Pumpkin pours a nice orange color. It is not as burnt looking as its predecessor. The white head and clear beer as still there though. The nose is a mix of bourbon and bourbon. Seriously this thing smells boozy and wonderful. There isn’t much else but as it warms there is some slight oak notes that appear in the nose.

On the taste I found that the spices present in the last beer were toned way down in this one. Either that or they were covered up by some other flavors. The bourbon is strongly in there and mixes nicely with the pumpkin flavors. There is a fair amount of heat in there as well and some vanilla. It is a weird combination of flavors but somehow it works out nicely.

For a beer labeled “The Greater Pumpkin,” I actually liked the previous beer more. This one doesn’t have enough pumpkin and has too much bourbon. The heat is more noticeable than the last beer as well. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an enjoyable beer, but it is not one that you can drink a lot of. Again, grab it while you can as I don’t think these will be sticking around too long. (more…)

Beer Review #141 The Great Pumpkin

I’ve made it no secret that I really enjoy the vast majority of Clipper City Brewing Company beers. I probably had about a dozen or so of their styles, but this is only the fourth review of theirs to make it on this site. I only live an hour or so from Baltimore (right down 95) so I feel like I have some allegiance to this brewery. For better or worse, I try my best to review things fairy without bias.

I was at the local beer store this past weekend, with the intention of loading up on pumpkin, fall, and Oktoberfest beers. One of the first ones I saw was this beer, The Great Pumpkin. How could I not buy a beer named “The Great Pumpkin?” The cartoon for which this beer is named is one of my favorites. I college my philosophy professor even had us do a study into The Great Pumpkin. I can’t remember the reason for the study, but I do remember liking it. I digress.

The Great Pumpkin pours a nice burnt orange color with a thin white head. This beer is also crystal clear. This baby rocks in at 8% and the label reads it as an imperial pumpkin ale. I guess this goes along with Clipper City’s Heavy Seas line of big beers. The label also says, “beer brewed with pumpkin and spices.”

The nose on this imperial ale smells very much like a pumpkin pie. The spices are distant, but present. There is some sweetness there as well. I didn’t get any pumpkin meat like what you can find in some pumpkin beers. I also didn’t notice any heat in this imperial offering. On the first taste those distant spices come rushing up and kick you in the face. They are a bit strong, but not totally overwhelming. There is a nice pumpkin pie finish to the beer along with some heat.

This one is a slightly different pumpkin ale than what you normally see. There are not a lot of imperial pumpkin ales out there right now and this one does a pretty good job at helping to define the “style.” It is a drinkable beer but the spices are a bit heavy handed in my eyes. Grab it while you can and be careful, these babies only come in 22 oz bottles. (more…)