Pumpkin Beer Week: Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale

Pumpkin Beer WeekI found Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale at Trader Joe’s, and I have to admit I’m a bit confused by the pedigree of this beer. It is ostensibly brewed by Kennebunkport Brewing Company, but a closer read on the fine print reveals “Hand brewed and bottled by Pugsley Brewing LLC.” Alan Pugsley is of course the brewmaster at Shipyard Brewing, responsible for Shipyard Pumpkin Ale and Smashed Pumpkin, so this makes sense.

Then we veer into left field as BeerAdvocate (and a Google search) attribute the beer/brewery to Federal Jack’s Brewpub; RateBeer on the other hand considers this beer an alias to Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale, which is listed under Shipyard Brewing, which I thought was a standalone entity—but is in fact listed under the “family” of Federal Jack’s brands.

But there’s nothing specific about Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale on the Federal Jack’s page, so I guess we need to consider it as the Shipyard Pumpkinhead. A couple of years ago I reviewed Pumpkinhead, and though I was unsure at the time I’m pretty sure (in retrospect) I had a bad bottle, and didn’t like it.

So, Kennebunkport Pumpkin: the same as Pumpkinhead, which is a 4.7% ABV wheat beer brewed with spices and no pumpkin, as it turns out. (As an aside, I always wondered why you’d brew a “pumpkin beer” without actually using pumpkin. To me that’s like advertising a “wheat beer” without actually using wheat. But that’s a rant for another time.)

Strangely, though, I could swear I do taste pumpkin (the vegetable) in this beer…

Kennebunkport Pumpkin AleAppearance: Light copper, very clear and effervescent. White head that broke up quickly.

Smell: Crisp, very lightly spicy, and minerally (almost acidic); with the foam it has a soapy note that dissipates with the head. Some raw pumpkin.

Taste: Sweet, raw pumpkin notes (vegetal) with spices—nutmeg, cloves but with a light touch. Fairly clean, with hard water characteristics; not as expressive as other pumpkin beers.

Mouthfeel: Lightly crisp, minerally; a bit bubbly on the tongue.

Overall: Not bad, nice notes come out as it warms, but not my favorite—a bit too thin/filtered.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores an overall grade of C-. On RateBeer, it scores 2.83 out of 5 and is in their 36th percentile.

One comment

  1. Fortune did a story about Trader Joe’s and their practices (http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/companies/inside_trader_joes_full_version.fortune/). One practice is vendors sign an agreement that includes “Vendor shall not publicize its business relationship with TJ’s in any manner.” Hence the reason there is no listing of the beer on Federal Jack’s page. It is interesting that TJ allowed “Pugsley Brewing LLC”, but then again it is rather “beer nerdish” to know specific brewers 😉

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