Pumpkinhead Ale

Pumpkinhead AleA few months back when we went to John’s Marketplace, I had picked up several pumpkin beers (wishing all the while I’d found them back in time for Pumpkin Beer Week), and Shipyard Brewing‘s Pumpkinhead Ale was one of them.

According to their, um, not-very-usable website (there, I said it), this is a "wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spiced flavor." No mention of actual pumpkin, interestingly, and it’s 4.5% alcohol by volume.

Appearance: Slightly hazy and straw-colored—surprisingly pale, considering. Fizzy white head initially thick but fell quickly.

Smell: Pumpkin pie spicing with an almost-cloying sweet background. ("Natural flavor added.") Smells more like flavoring than the rich aroma of real pumpkin. [Trust me on this one. I’ve brewed (and drank) enough pumpkin ales to know.]

Taste: Odd—not sure if I like it—like a tart wheat with the spices coming across in the back of the mouth without any of the characteristic spiciness. Is this a bad bottle, or just a weird formulation? The sourness could go either way, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s "turned."

Mouthfeel: Light, tart, almost acidically so; puckering.

Overall: Not good… not undrinkable if I look at it as an intentionally sour wheat, but…

Apparently, reading the reviews on the other sites, this wasn’t a bad bottle after all, just a not good pumpkin beer.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores a grade of C+, but the Bros give it an F. On RateBeer, it scores 2.82 out of 5, and is in their 30th percentile.


  1. I’ve never thought of it as "sour." I think you got a bad one. Every fall I search high and low in Chicago for this stuff, but I don’t think they have a distributor. I love this stuff though. I think of it as sort of a "dessert."

    Great blog, by the way. Just ran across it randomly.

Comments are closed.