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Sunday, November 14, 2010

November Beer Review: Pumpkin Brews

This is the first edition of my new feature: the monthly beer review. This month, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving, as it does every few years. I'm more likely to have pumpkin pie than birthday cake, so I thought it most appropriate to rate pumpkin brews for the month of November. While sampling the five ales, I considered several things, including pumpkin flavor, spiciness and overall appeal.



Terrapin's Pumpkinfest was introduced last fall as a limited edition Side Project. It was so delicious, Terrapin decided to release it annually as a seasonal brew. Pumpkinfest knocked my socks off this fall and last with its flavor and aroma. It smells and tastes just like pumpkin pie and is, by far, the spiciest pumpkin ale I've had the pleasure of drinking, with plenty of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove. 6.1%ABV. Rating: A+



O'Fallon's Pumpkin Beer is another winner. The pumpkin flavor is strong and pleasing, as is the spiciness. The flavor and aroma of clove, in particular, is quite prominent. And I really enjoy that aspect. I've spotted O'Fallon's Pumpkin Beer on shelves in several stores around town, making it easier to procure (in Mobile) than Terrapin's Pumpkinfest. 5.6%ABV. Rating: A



Williamsburg Alewerks' Pumpkin Ale has its ups and downs. It has a strong pumpkin flavor and pleasing spices. However, it is a good bit sweeter than the other four brews, and that sweetness grows stronger with every sip. I recommend splitting one with a friend. 7.3%ABV.
Rating: B



Shipyard's Pumpkinhead is certainly a tasty beer, but not particularly impressive as a pumpkin brew. If I hadn't seen the name in advance, I'm not sure I could have identified it as a pumpkin beer. Spices are vaguely present. 5.1%ABV.
Rating: C+  





Blue Moon's Harvest Pumpkin Ale is, in my opinion, an epic fail. The pumpkin flavor is imperceptible, and the spice is not impressive. Even considering its flavor outside of this category, it is disappointing. 5.7%ABV.
Rating: F




If there's a pumpkin ale that I missed and you'd recommend, please let me know. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Don't forget to check back next month for the December edition of my beer review. I'm thinking of sampling winter ales and lagers but am open to ideas!