Beer Review #52 – Pumpkin Beers (Redux) (Pt. 7)

Heavy Seas’ ‘The Great’ER Pumpkin’

My first six pumpkin beer reviews saw a few beers with heavy, boozy flavors, but none of them can compete with Heavy Seas’ bourbon-barrel aged pumpkin offering. I’m usually skeptical of ‘theme’ breweries, but The Great’ER Pumpkin manages to suit Heavy Seas’ pirate theme quite well, working the rough, hard-drinking spirit of maritime criminals into the pumpkin beer format. Admittedly not for the faint-of-heart, but delicious nonetheless.

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‘THE GREAT’ER PUMPKIN’ – HEAVY SEAS  – Imperial Pumpkin Ale aged in bourbon barrels – 10.00% ABV (Eye Choir’s Top Choice)

Appearance: Poured a rich, slightly darker orange amber with a one-finger, creamy eggshell head. The body has a mild haziness, though a somewhat mild amount of carbonation can be seen in the light. 4.5/5

Smell: Very strong, sharp boozy bourbon aromas hit first, with firm supporting notes of oak and toasted coconut. Smooth baked pumpkin lurks beneath, with a fair amount of toasted biscuit malts that give the impression of cakes. Spices are a little more subtle, with notes of vanilla, ginger, and nutmeg mingling with the stark wood qualities. Very complex though not without balance. Much like a bite of pumpkin pie after you wash it down with a shot of Maker’s Mark. 4.5/5

Taste: Mild to moderate sweetness brings out pie crust and light molasses, playing with the sweet barrel toastiness. Eventually, a moderate tartness breaks through, bringing with it a solid dose of vegetal pumpkin, along with clove, nutmeg, and ripe sour mash whiskey flavors. These are surprisingly subtle compared to the aroma, with the pumpkin evolving a hearty sweet potato character that weighs down the flighty booze. In the mildly bitter finish, smooth coconut cream and even toasted banana flavors help things mellow out. Nice dynamics which help integrate the bold flavors. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium body, with a supple, slightly chewy mouthfeel that is balanced by mild to moderate carbonation and a slight tannic pucker in the finish. Alcoholic heat is relatively well-hidden, contributing a smooth warmth throughout the drink that matches the bourbon flavors without becoming too intense. 5/5

Overall: Very strong and definitely bourbon-centric, though this flavor is far from smothering. Nonetheless, quite well-balanced, with an abundance of nuance. Gets better as it warms, and I imagine aging would only improve the flavors as well. 5/5

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Appearance: Poured a dark cola brown with reddish highlights and a two-finger, light tan head. The body is transparent despite how dark it is, though not much carbonation is visible. 3/5

Smell: Spice forward nose with strong notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that are blended together with a chalky pumpkin aroma. Malt character is slightly milder, with caramel and hints of brown sugar. Slight earthy hops in the finish, though a lot of the aromas blend together. Spice profile is a little unusual, though balance is generally alright. 3.5/5

Taste: Mildly to moderately tart and only mildly sweet, the pumpkin flesh serves as a prominent flavor, with an earthy and perhaps slightly metallic character that integrates with the roasted, almost ashen character of the malt. A mild to moderate bitterness enhances dusty nutmeg and clove through the finish, though here they take a backseat to the pumpkin. Flavors have trouble unifying, especially in that some are sort of weird in and of themselves. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Medium to light body, with a relative lack of carbonation in the mouthfeel that leaves the body slightly watery or syrupy. Alcoholic heat pokes through in the end, but it is pretty smooth and is a welcome distraction from the odd aftertaste. 3/5

Overall: While not outwardly bad, the spice and malt profiles are muddled to the point where they simply come across as unfamiliar. The leading pumpkin flavor holds things together, though its subtleties aren’t especially intriguing. 3/5

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‘CITROUILLE’ – ST. AMBROISE – Pumpkin Ale – 5.00% ABV

Appearance: Poured a dark yet still transparent orange-brown with vermillion highlights and a one-finger, light tan head. Mild carbonation can just barely be seen. 4/5

Smell: Spice aromas such as cinnamon and clove complement a mellow yet distinct core of fermented pumpkin. Fairly potent caramel malt notes work their way in as well, with a hint of toasted bread. There is a touch of earthy tea-like hops in the background. Not especially unique but very well balanced with some depth as well. 3.5/5

Taste: A moderate tartness extracts a vegetal, almost cidery note from the pumpkin that cuts across the palate and rises over the malt profile. Lightly toasted bread and vague toffee flavors fall into the background with a mild, though lingering sweetness. In the finish, mildly bitter hops embrace the earthiness of nutmeg and clove but also the faint freshness of ginger. Pumpkin character is admirably powerful, though the malt notes are perhaps a tad mild. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium to light body, with a hefty dose of carbonation that amplifies the sour flavors, though in fairness it is quite smooth, allowing a slightly creamy mouthfeel. Virtually no alcoholic heat, though the finish is long enough to use some. 3.5/5

Overall: A beer centered around its interesting pumpkin flavor, with other components playing more of a support role. A little bit tame, but adequately complex once you work past the primary flavors. 3.5/5

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‘COUNTRY PUMPKIN’ – ITHACA – Pumpkin Ale – 6.30% ABV

Appearance: Poured a quite clear golden orange with a two finger, off-white head. Ample carbonation is visible in the body. 3.5/5

Smell: A nice bready hit of malt with notes of honey, which pairs with a fairly strong baked, rounded baked pumpkin aroma. These are balanced by some moderate spices, including nutmeg, flowery ginger, and slight allspice. Hops are a slight grassy citrus note. Nicely constructed, with some interesting spice and malt aromas that don’t overwhelm the pumpkin. 4/5

Taste: Delicious mild to moderate tartness kicks up the squash-like pumpkin flavors along with the spice profile, though soon a mild to moderate sweetness comes in and helps form a shortbread malt backbone which really helps ground the pumpkin flavors without being overbearing. A mild bitterness coasts in as well, though the finish is far from dry, with some nice earthy gourd and ginger. Unique for a pumpkin beer, and though it has a lot of flavors, the pumpkin is still easily in the spotlight. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly, a medium to light body made even lighter by a nice, smooth carbonation that makes the beer refreshing and easy to drink. Even though there are a lot of subtleties to this beer, it is quite easy to drink. 4/5

Overall: A pumpkin beer that really features the pumpkin flavor, with the other components, even if they are quite complex, being light enough to be sessionable. Quite balanced, not coming across as a spice or malt bomb. 4/5

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2 Responses to Beer Review #52 – Pumpkin Beers (Redux) (Pt. 7)

  1. Pingback: Beer Review #54 – Pumpkin Beers (Redux) (Pt. 9) | Eye Choirs

  2. Pingback: Thoughts – A Pumpkin Beer Retrospective | Eye Choirs

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