Reviews: 3 more pumpkin ales for Halloween

This being the week of Halloween, I figured I would run review trios of pumpkin beers this week (I’ve been drinking a lot of pumpkin!) in the vein of last week’s post. “Spice” seems to be the theme of these three particular reviews, even moreso than the pumpkin.

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin AleSamuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

This is the first time I’ve seen Sam Adams’ pumpkin beer here in Central Oregon; it was part of a mix 12-pack so I picked it up pretty much just to try the Harvest Pumpkin. This beer is 5.7% abv; their capsule description is:

A perennial favorite at our brewery Halloween party, Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale is brewed with over 17 pounds of real pumpkin per barrel, adding a full body and sweetness to this dark reddish amber brew.  Deep roasted malts, including a smoked malt, lend a distinct roasted character while traditional pumpkin pie spices give the beer a subtle spice note.

Appearance: Clear, nutty-brown amber color with deep orange highlights when held to the light. Light tan head built up nicely at first but fell quickly.

Smell: Spicy and a little sharp—overspiced and not enough squash in the body based on that nose. Nice array of spices though, and a toffee sweetness beneath it all.

Taste: Malty and syrupy sweet, with a slightly harsh bite from the spices; could stand to mellow. Salted caramel and molasses, with a sweet spice profile that reminds me of gingerbread. A bit of astringency at the back, pulled out by the roasted malts and spices.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a cleaner finish that it should have for a pumpkin beer (in my opinion); a bit from the spices.

Overall: Okay but not presenting as a pumpkin ale should—too filtered and overspiced. A little over-stimulating on the nose and could stand some aging to mellow (as well as be unfiltered).

Harvest Pumpkin on Untappd. BeerAdvocate: 82/100. RateBeer: 3.35/5, 85th percentile.

Southern Tier Imperial PumkingSouthern Tier Imperial Pumking

Southern Tier hails from New York and known (in these parts, anyway) as a brewer of big, flavorful, imperial beers, and Pumking fits that bill. It’s 8.6% abv and while the label and web only list pumpkin in the extra ingredients, there definitely spices in here as well. And I like the label story which I highlighted back when I first reviewed this beer:

Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed! Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent.

Appearance: Honey orange, fizzy(ish) off-white head that broke quickly (burned off by the higher alcohol I think).

Smell: Nice blend of pie spices—creamy nutmeg is prominent—along with graham crackers and a bit of raw squash/melon rind character.

Taste: Malty and spicy—nutmeg and cloves are prominent here I think, with a bit of graham cracker, ginger, and dark brown sugar behind it. A kick from the alcohol, and then it gets sweet again, nutmeg-creamy, and has hints of burnt sugar.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied and has a bite from the spices at the end.

Overall: Nice and sweet, a touch heavy-handed with the spices perhaps, but it’s a fun beer to drink.

Pumking on Untappd. BeerAdvocate: 90/100. RateBeer: 3.75/5, 98th percentile.

Ace Hard Pumpkin CiderAce Hard Pumpkin Cider

I believe this is the first cider review I’ve ever run on this blog; and with cider and mead on the rise lately (I’m half-seriously thinking they are the “new craft beer”), it seems entirely fitting that the California Cider Company, makers of the Ace hard ciders, have produced a pumpkin cider.

This is, I believe, a fairly standard sweet cider flavored with pumpkin and allspice. I didn’t find any details on the website about it, but it is 5% abv and like all ciders is gluten free.

Appearance: Clear golden yellow, fizzy but no real head develops.

Smell: Allspice is the dominant note, with a sweet caramelized sugar character following that up. Tart cidery aromas below that (as expected).

Taste: The tast is predominantly sweet cider, with not much that I can tell in the way of pumpkin flavor. There’s a kick of allspice at the back, though it’s mild. A bit tart, a fairly standard cider as I understand it.

Mouthfeel: Light and cidery (of course!).

Overall: Okay for me, a decent cider, a decent spicing but not enough pumpkin for what I would expect.

Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider on Untappd. (Not listed on BeerAdvocate or RateBeer.)

One Response to Reviews: 3 more pumpkin ales for Halloween

  1. Brian M says:

    I felt the same way about about the Sam Adams, and Pumking is definitely my favorite pumpkin beer. I never saw the Ace cider before, I’ll have to look for it next year. Thanks for the great review!