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Beer Review #78 Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout

Today’s pumpkin beer comes from Cape Ann Brewing Company out of Gloucester, Ma. Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout’s label depicts the towns famous statue dedicated to those who lost their lives fishing. I’m a bit of a statue freak (I love how they are cast and built and all of that) and the Gloucester statue is really a piece of art. Anyway, this is a beer review, not a statue review.

Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout pours jet black (image that!) with a thin, off-white head. I couldn’t tell if it is clear or not because this beer does not allow light to pass through it. The nose smells a lot like gingerbread. It has that sweetness to it, but a faint spice that is nice. There were also some pumpkin notes that added to the wonderful aroma.

The taste is very roasty with pumpkin flavor at the end. It was much more of a gingerbread/pumpkin pie combination than your normal pumpkin beer. The spices were not the showcase, the subtle flavors are. This ale is full of flavor and it all balances very nicely. The bottle says that it is a stout brewed with pumpkin and spices but it hits a wonderful harmony with the malt where all three pieces can really shine. This is a really good beer that I would be happy to buy again.

I’ve had a lot of pumpkin beers, but this is unlike anything I’ve had, which might be a reason I really liked it. It is very drinkable, but it is a bit rich. Apparently this beer is brewed under contract with Olde Saratoga Brewing in Saratoga Springs, NY. If you see it around, grab it, I don’t think you will be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #76 Imperial Pumpkin Ale

This week will feature another series of backlogged post, pumpkin beers. I was at the beer store this weekend and I was surprise at how many pumpkin beers were still around, so some of these beers might still be out there for the season. Our first beer comes from Easton, PA out of the Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Their Imperial Pumpkin Ale has gained a bit of a following. I love the label art, crying pumpkins in the background made me giggle a little.

Weyerbacher’s brew pours a burnt amber color. It is perfectly clear and has a thin, off-white head. The nose is slightly caramely, with lots of pumpkin meat. The pumpkin spices are in there as well. The label says that cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, and cloves are all present in the beer. I have no idea what cardamon is, but I know what to expect from the other beers. For a beer that comes in at 8% ABV, I didn’t get any heat. I believe that the spices help hid the odor. On my first taste, I noticed how much this beer comes in stages. The front is malty, the middle carries some pumpkin flavor, and the end is spicy. There is a bit of heat in there as well.

This is a thick beer. Generally a 8% beer is going to be a little thick, but not the way this is. This beer almost has a syrupy quality to it. It is pretty drinkable though. Most 8% beers I can’t drink a ton of, but this is enjoyable enough to have a few. While there is some heat in there, it isn’t overwhelming like some “imperial” ales seem to be. (more…)

Beer Review #32 Punkin Ale

11-05-02As I said before, seasonal beers in Lubbock are extremely hard to come by, but Dogfish Head did not disappoint as there is plenty of Punkin Ale to go around. Punkin Ale has become one of my favorite seasonal beers that I really never tire of. As normal for Dogfish the label explains exactly what you should expect from the beer. Punkin Ale’s label reads, “[a] full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.”

Those spices are pretty common in pumpkin beers but the use of real pumpkin is somewhat unusual as is the use of brown sugar. The beer pours a golden amber, almost orange with a nice off-white head. The head is composed of a mix of tiny bubbles and medium bubbles. Punkin Ale is also crystal clear.

The nose of the beer is mostly spice with some pumpkin undertones. The nutmeg and cinnamon really stand out. There is some malt toastyness and no hint of hops at all. This is one of the only pumpkin beers I’ve ever had that actually has some actual pumpkin smell on the nose. After taking my first sip I was amazed at how well balanced the beer was.

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11-05-04There is real pumpkin flavor, some spices, and malt. The spices probably stand out the most, but all of the flavors mesh so well together. Refreshing is a word that comes to mind because nothing pushes out another. Most seasonal beers seem to have one ingredient or flavor that overtakes the beer. Not so with Punkin Ale.

There is a medium body to the beer and it has good carbonation to it. Overall it is very drinkable and enjoyable. This is by far the best pumpkin based beer that I have had to date. Punkin Ale comes in at 7% ABV which is pretty much on par with most of Dogfish Head’s other offerings. If you like pumpkin beers this is the granddaddy of them all (in my book anyway). Just a wonderfully balanced, drinkable beer that captures pumpkin flavor. (more…)

Beer Review #31 Pumpkin Ale

10-27-03I have had extremely limited access to seasonal beers here in Lubbock Texas. I can’t even get Sam Adams Octoberfest, yeah it is pretty bad. So every time I go to the store I look for any seasonals, if I find one, I pick it up. I recently found Buffalo Bill’s Brewery (actually it is brewed by Pyramid Brewing Company) Pumpkin Ale. I was all over it, and it was on sale!

Pumpkin Ale claims to be “America’s original pumpkin ale.” I have no idea if it is true, but it sounds good. It comes in a 5.2% ABV and has a plain orange cap. It was surely distinctive. Pumpkin Ale pours orange and is slightly hazy. There is a slightly off-white head that quickly diminishes. Almost reminded me of a soda’s  (or pop for those of you in the Midwest) “head.” It was there for a second, furiously bubbling, and then gone.

10-27-05The smell is mostly nutmeg with cinnamon, ginger, and all spice in there as well. Pretty much the spices you would expect from a pumpkin beer. There is some malt sweetness in there as well, but not much compared to the spice. The first taste I noticed some malt upfront with the spices in the end. Not really any hop notes in there. The spice takes over the ending notes. I kept drinking trying to find a few more flavors, but I couldn’t. The pumpkin part of this beer comes in as pumpkin pie spice, not pumpkin flavor.

The mouthfeel is very watery. There is good carbonation, it just is very light in your mouth. Pumpkin Ale by Buffalo Bill’s Brewery is a decent pumpkin beer, but there are much better examples out there. As I said before, this beer delivers on the pumpkin spice aspect of a pumpkin beer, but not much in the way of  pumpkin flavor. If you like trying seasonal fall beer, namely pumpkin beers, try it out to see how it compares. Your tastes might differ from mine, but I would not be picking this up again as there are a few other seasonals that I enjoy more than this. (more…)

Now this is how you make a Pumpkin beer

Pete, my brewing partner in crime, shared this link with me the other day. Basically someone turned a huge pumpkin into a mash tun for their pumpkin beer. After that they used a smaller pumpkin for a fermentor for some of the wort. Pretty interesting idea.

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I would love to try using a huge pumpkin as a mash tun if they weren’t so darn expensive. I don’t think that I would use a smaller pumpkin as a fermentor because the risk of spoiling the beer from critters in the pumpkin or getting into the fermentor is really high.

My only question is I’m wondering how much pumpkin flavor they got into the beer. Generally the pumpkin meat is cooked a bit before it ever goes near the beer or soon to be beer because the sugars are complex and need to be broken down a bit before they are super useful. Cooking does exactly that. Now converting the sugars is not essential for flavor transfer because I’m sure they were looking to get flavor not sugars out of their pumpkin. From what I have read, cooking and converting helps transfer more flavors than just dumping it in. During the mash the temps were high enough to convert a bit.

For my pumpkin beer (recipe coming tomorrow) I want to get the flavor of the pumpkin, but I would also like to grab some sugars from it. So I will be cooking it till it is soft. More details to come tomorrow but experimenting with pumpkin mash tuns and fermenters has got me thinking. I promise I will stop with the pumpkin posting soon I’m just excited by the prospect of making a delicious pumpkin beer. That reminds me, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale is now sitting in my fridge  🙂