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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Round-Up

Pumpkin Showdown Roundup NewsletterIf you haven't received our Pumpkin Showdown Newsletter, here is your chance to view it and check out all of the individual pumpkin reviews, the final results, and hear the podcast!

And remember to SIGNUP as a citizen of the Ferment Nation to receive the latest news and reviews.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blue Moon Harvest Moon

Blue Moon Harvest MoonBlue Moon Harvest Moon:

Pretty smooth and very drinkable. This is the least exquisite of all the pumpkin ales, but that is NOT a bad thing. In fact, I would consider Blue Moon Harvest Moon to be a "gateway" beer that could lead the way to the festive and spicy world of pumpkin brews. It was, in fact, my "gateway" beer.

Harvest Moon was my very first pumpkin ale all those years ago. Oh, I fell for its seasonal stylings but have since let my tastebuds wander. Just as Blue Moon's white ale is a nifty introduction to the world of unfiltered ales, so is Harvest Moon a cool first step toward Halloween madness. Very accessible but I'm afraid not very stylish. If you've never had a pumpkin beer, start with Blue Moon's Harvest Moon. When you start to wander through the pumpkin patch, you will be spirited away to a darker, more mysterious world. Beware.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dogfish Head Punk

Dogfish Head Punk
Dogfish Head Punk:

Rich and punkiny with a truly groovy warming quality which lends itself to maxin' on a chilly rain-soaked night. Medium to full-bodied. That's what a lot of pumpkin beers lack: body. Dogfish Head, however, throws down the gauntlet and unleashes their usual assault on our tastebuds. The fruity essence of pumpkin with stern yet mellow spicing gives a wine-like quality to this beer that Dogfish lovers have come to find as one of the signature features of their off-centered ales.

Not like pumpkin pie at all. Totally off-centered, as usual, in the lineup of pumpkin ales up for review in the weeks approaching Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Just a little dry while maintaining fruity goodness, Punk is a blood relative of Raison D'etre and Aprihop in presentation and spirit. Playful yet serious. Classy but on the edge. The kinda beer ya take home to mom...

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking

Southern Tier Imperial Pumking
Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking:

Great Googly Moogly. Southern Tier has never been known to pull punches (check out the Jahvah and Creme Brulee). They maintain a hard line on flavor and take an aggressive stance here on pumpkin. Imperial? I'll say. This ale is brimming with body and captures the essence of a pumpkin dessert better than any I've tried. Might it be too big for the average beer drinker? It might. Powerful pumpkin aroma and dreamy pumpkin flavor mask the 9% abv. Kinda. You can't really taste the alcohol, but it is so rich that you may not be able to sit and go to town on it. Not exactly a "session" beer.

The label recounts the story of Puca, a Celtic folklore critter who absconds with wayward travellers. This Pumpking is not for the faint of heart. But give yourself over to it and become one of the haints in your neighborhood. Go haunt the sober people. Just don't drive.

P.S. The aroma is JUST LIKE a pumpkin spice candle!

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale:

Extremely even. Medium-bodied but on the larger side of medium. Super smooth ale. An exceptional beer even without the pumpkin. But add the spicy flavor of everyone's favorite gourd, and a true legend emerges. This beer could be brewed and enjoyed all year round, but of course it's perfect for the Halloween holiday. Take this bit of advice: This beer is so elegant, classy, and solid that it is NOT a gimmicky Halloween beer. Save some for Thanksgiving and take it to the in-laws' house (if you don't mind sharing your private stash with them). Smuttynose has all of the lovely traits that I found in the Buffalo Bill's offering. Smuttynose takes them to a slightly higher level. Very impressive.

Everything I've ever tried from Smuttynose has been excellent. The Pumpkin Ale is no exception. It's an awesome beer, first and foremost. It's an awesome pumpkin beer, too. Don't miss it this fall. Anyone who says they like beer must try this one before it goes away for another year.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

This would be superfly on a camping trip on a cold night sitting around a campfire. Need to warm up? Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale does the trick with a warming alcohol kick. 8%abv is no joke so be careful how many of these you take down while you attempt to assemble those s'mores.

This Imperial Pumpkin is a medium to full-bodied ale with lots of spices. Yes, they hit your tongue but really go through the nose when you exhale. Then that spiciness stays a bit in your chest. That's part of the mysterious alchemy of this nice brew. I had this on my beercation last fall and remember it being a little less imperial. But now, make no mistake: Weyerbacher soes make a fine rendition.

You know, Weyerbacher isn't always hanging around your local liquor store so grab it if you see it. Take the Imperial Pumpkin Ale to a Halloween party and make some waves. But only if you're going to a party with beer nerds. There are cheaper and less challenging pumpkin ales out there if you are strictly after a novelty beer. Weyerbacher doesn't make novelty beers.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Wolaver's Will Stevens' Certified Organic Pumpkin Ale

Wolaver's Certified Organic Will Stevens Pumpkin Ale
Wolaver's Will Stevens' Certified Organic Pumpkin Ale:

Got a straw? Stick it in a pumpkin and take a pull. This brew is extremely fresh tasting and with certified organic ingredients, it his the mark for authentic pumpkin flavor. Not a ton of body, but actually fairly thirst-quenching as it exhibits some Flemish sour qualities. Not overbearing, but not uber-smooth, either.

Again, I'm a fan of the big beers with rich spicy notes and smooth, creamy bodies. The spices in Will Stevens' Ale are earthy and pungent so style is not an issue. Different from the rest by virtue of its natural demeanor. It's a little light in the body for me, but may be too much on the tongue for others. Overall, a really nice fall treat. Definitely bring this one to a party where you might find nature-lovers and green folks. I'm trying to be more green and organic, so I would always appreciate receiving this beer as a gift or finding it in a fridge somewhere whilst picking pumpkins.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Buffalo Bill's Original Pumpkin Ale

Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale
Buffalo Bill's Original Pumpkin Ale:

Gee, that's a really special pumpkin brew. Medium-bodied ale (on the lighter side of medium) with a little pumpkin flavor and a little spicy flavor and a little beer flavor and it tastes exactly like pumpkin ale should taste. Extremely even-tempered and assertively subtle. Ok, no one really knows what that means but I guess what I'm trying to say is: "Gosh, that's just right."

My tastes lean toward a bigger beer with more body, more style, more sexiness. But Buffalo Bill's gives just enough. Really smooth and drinkable despite a tell-tale pumpkin flavor. Not overdone at all. I really think that most pumpkin ales (not all, mind you, but most) are shooting for a certain something. Most brewers miss that mark. Buffalo Bill's Original Pumpkin Ale does not.

Buffalo Bill's Original Pumpkin Ale:

Representation: .95
Accessibility: .95
Style: .90
Personal Preference: .95

Total Score: 3.75 Flags


(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Post Road Pumpkin Ale:

Pale and pumkiny with a dry finish. This was my fave pumpkin brew at one time, though these days I prefer the bigger beers with a richer body and creamier mouthfeel. The pumpkin aroma is really nice and a light body makes it extremely drinkable. If you don't like pumpkin ales or pumpkiny stuff, stay away from this one. The pumpkin is a pretty prominent feature. I think its a little thin for my tastes but not bad. Not sweet at all, Post Road is practically the opposite of Saranac with a dry approach. Almost as if the pumpkin was the goal from the outset, and the beer was reverse-engineered to produce that signature aroma and flavor.

This fall brew falls in the middle of the pack on the scale of introductory pumpkin beers. Try the milder ones first, move on to Post Road, and then head toward a fuller-bodied brew. That's what I did. When I tasted Post Road Pumpkin Ale I became a fan of the style. I've since taken a fancy to the slightly more... well, fancy. But Post Road is a solid choice for anyone who enjoys Shipyard but needs more pumpkin goodness.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Saranac Pumpkin Ale

Saranac Pumpkin Ale
Saranac Pumpkin Ale:

An interesting take on the fall classic pumpkin ale. Brewed with vanilla in addition to the old standbys cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, Saranac has a little zip to it but manages to remain pretty mellow. Pretty nice body and a dessert-like finish. Not too terribly sweet but I'd say its the sweetest of the pumkins I've tried. Saranac's Pumpkin Ale maintains the beer-like qualities of an ale while gettin' kinda pumpkiny at the same time. If some of the more pumpkinier and spicier brews could steal some of Saranac's body, the field would be narrower.

Overall, this beer has a lot of positives but doesn't topple the sexier pumkin ales out there these days. Definitely worth a try, but get some singles if you can before investing in a 6, 12, or a case. The taste is cool but not necessarily a "session" beer. The pumpkin flavors are more subtle and the vanilla really stands out. Conversation piece, no doubt.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Michelob Brewing Co. Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale

Michelob Jack's PumpkinMichelob Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale:

Well, I'll be schnookered. This isn't what I expected, really. Of course it is what I should have expected. the good-natured visage of Jack (at least I think that's the name of the friendly pumkin-headed gent on the label) and the "Pumpkin Spice" moniker whould have one believe that he or she is in for a dessert-like beverage. No, it's not a latte. This is a Michelob ale with a fairly subtle evenly spiced pumpkin flavor.

Can I make a confession? I... I like Michelob. Really. Even though it comes from a soulless giant brewery, I would consider Mich the shining star of their product offering. This is a pretty darn good beer. Actually, it's not in the upper echelon of Pumpkin ales but it respectable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Not the smoothest or the pumkiniest but Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale has more body than some of the other brews I've had. Not extraordinary in any real way but certainly more than ordinary. Worth a taste, for sure. Any Michelob drinker will be digging it.

If Post Road is a bit much in the pumkin department but too thin in the body, Jack's PSA is a must-try.

(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

Shipyard Pumpkinhead AleShipyard Pumpkinhead Ale:

The lightest of all the pumpkin brews I've tried thus far. Actually, pretty darn refreshing. This brew takes pretty much like pumpkin pie smells, although it could definitely do with more body. The spices are well balanced and it's truly drinkable but not very hearty.

I remember having Shipyard Pumpkinhead a few years ago (actually while in Portland, ME, home of Shipyard) and thinking that it was too light. I still think that. The flavors are almost just right, but there needs to be more to a beer than simply the right mix of spices. There is a certain mystical element to brewing and I think that Pumpkinhead is not quite privvy to the spells.

That being said, Shipyard Pumpkinhead is easy to drink out of the bottle and has a very snazzy label, making it perfect for a Halloween party or a tailgater. Maybe some beer drinkers who don't normally experiment with all those "weird" beers may give this a try and broaden their horizons. Spread the Halloween joy.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale:

Representation: .85
Accessibility: 1.0
Style: .825
Personal Preference: .85

Total Score: 3.525 Flags


(Click HERE to see the results of the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Halloween Shirts!

Ferment Nation Shop Halloween ShirtsNow available at our Cafe Press Store, we have two T-shirts for the Halloween Season. First, the Tombstone-T. "The Party Never Ends!" And our "I Heart Good Beer" T with a bloody heart popping out. We've heard of wearing your heart on your sleeve, but this is ridiculous!