Pumpkin Beer Week: Southampton Pumpkin Ale

Southampton Pumpkin AleSouthampton Brewing made some news lately with the announcement from Pabst that they (Pabst and Southampton) were entering into a strategic alliance wherein Pabst would market and distribute (presumably nationally) Southampton’s beers. Like the Widmer-Redhood deal, my opinion is that it’s a good thing—anything that enables an award-winning brewery’s beers to reach me more easily is a good thing in my book.

Southampton BrewingAnd Southampton is definitely award winning: the Silver and Bronze for their Double White Ale and Saison, respectively, at this year’s GABF. And they’ve pulled down medals for previous years, too.

So I had high hopes for their Pumpkin Ale, which comes in 22-ounce bombers at sits at a warm 6% alcohol. And I really like the label on this one; the packaging just looks good.

(Disclaimer: Southampton is one of the breweries I contacted about sending me a sample, and they very generously sent me 3 bottles of their beer to review.)

Appearance: A bit of a darker-than-amber amber, slight haze but still fairly clear. A nice finger of off-white head. The amber has a slight brown to it.

Smell: There’s a soapy aroma here (from the head?)… The predominant aroma is the spices. (Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, according to the bottle.) Behind that is a lighter vegetable character—a little green grass too.

Taste: Lighter, toasted malt punctuated with grassy green vegetable notes—like maybe the pumpkin wasn’t roasted but raw (or prepared differently)? (Not a bad thing, just observation.) Spices are subtle on the tongue, with a bit of sweetness overlaying a peppery base.

Mouthfeel: It’s a bit thin to be considered medium-bodied, and it has a bit of a sharp edge to the carbonation. A puckery film feeling to the mouth is left behind.

Overall: The soapy aroma at first was off-putting, but once I got past that (it disappeared) I warmed up to this beer. Well done, nice presentation and package, an enjoyable example of the style.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores well: 86 out of 100, with 100% approval. On RateBeer, it scores equally well: 3.5 out of 5, and in their 84th percentile.