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Beer Review #69 Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

I recently was in the beer store (OK so I go every week) but I saw Sam Adam’s fall seasonal beer pack. I love variety cases and I saw a new beer in there that I have never had before; Harvest Pumpkin Ale. I had no idea that Sam, a.k.a. Boston Beer Company produced a pumpkin beer. I know pumpkin beers are hot right now, but Sam making one kind of shows how far they have come in such a short time.

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale pours an amber color with a slightly off white head. It is crystal clear if that matters to you. The nose is slightly sweet with some grassy malt in there. The typical pumpkin pie spices can also be sampled. What I really found interesting about the nose was that there were some roasty notes. Generally pumpkin beers get dominated by a sweet malt and spice smell. It was a nice change to have some roasted malt in there. It reminded me of the smell of the pumpkin that I roasted last year.

You almost should know what to expect with an amber/orange pumpkin beer and Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale delivers on those promises. You have the malty upfront with the spicy finish. A wonderful aftertaste is quick to follow. The roast in the nose also followed through the beer and into the aftertaste. It was a nice addition to the normal flavors and helped balance out the spices.

I think this is a pretty solid pumpkin beer. The spices are not heavy handed like some pumpkin beers out there so I think this beer is much more approachable than other. Sam Adams is great at taking a style of beer and making it appealing to a mass market. This beer comes in at a solid 5.7% ABV and they use real pumpkins in the brewing process. The pumpkin is used in the mashing process and the spices are actually added in the keg or just before the bottling line depending on your serving type. It is a nice fresh tasting beer that I think is a real winner. There are more aggressive pumpkin beers out there and some with a lot more flavor, but Harvest Pumpkin Ale does a good job of balancing delicate flavors. (more…)

09-13-01

Pumpkin Ale

09-13-01It is getting around that time of year to start thinking about Pumpkin Ales. There are a ton commercially out there nowadays but a homebrewer is never satisfied. Last year I made a Pilgrim Porter that had four pounds of pumpkin put into the boil kettle. It was an extract batch with some specialty grains in there, but it was wonderful. To date it is my wife’s favorite beer that I have made. This year I think I’m going to take a different approach.

In the Pilgrim Porter I was more looking for a Thanksgiving beer that was rich in flavor and had some hints of pumpkin pie in there. This year I want to make a stronger beer that has more pumpkin flavor, nice mouthfeel, and most importantly a great aftertaste. Something along the lines of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, which happens to be my favorite pumpkin style beer. DFH had the following video on their site about their Pinkin Ale.

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Well what do I take away from this? First are the three ways they add flavor and sugar to this beer; pumpkin meat in the mash, brown sugar in the boil, and spices at the end of the boil. I had already planned on doing the same thing but it is nice to know I was on the right track. The second thing is the color, it is orange and looks like a pumpkin. Something to shoot for. Lastly is that they didn’t want it to be too much like pumpkin pie or spice, but has to have pumpkin flavor.

I’m still working on a recipe, and seeing that pumpkins are not going to be in the stores for a little longer it gives me time to plan out my beer. I’m not sure if I want to add brown sugar or not or something more along the lines of a honey or even no adjuncts at all. I know that I do not want to used canned pumpkin but fresh. I think my spice rack has everything I need in it already but I do need to get some fresh cinnamon. I will get a recipe up here as soon I complete it and I will keep you updated on the progress once it starts.