Tag Archives: pumpkin ale

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Fat Jack

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a beer review and, in all honesty, it’s probably been a long while since I’ve actually spent any time thinking about the stuff I’m pouring into my stomach. It’s time to slow down and think about what I’m drinking. And we’re going to start off with something season appropriate.

FatJack

As I’ve mentioned before, Sam Adams has a series of limited edition beers that they only release in their larger bottles. I’ve reviewed one or two in the past and they can range from very nice to solid, but underwhelming. They’ll rarely hit one out of the park, but they’re dependable, more complex than average and will allow your typical beer drinker the go outside of their comfort zone without gettin’ too crazy.

Fat Jack is a great example of a Sam Adams craft beer and it’s high on my list of pumpkin ales. A lot of pumpkin beers rely too heavily on spices leading to a lackluster experience. When all you have seasoning your beer is an overabundance of cinnamon, your beer is going to lack any true depth. Most of the pumpkin beers I’ve tried have started off with a strong burst of flavor and then quickly peter out into nothing.

But Fat Jack is solid through and through. You can tell from the color that things are different. Instead of the pale orange typical of its breed, it’s a deep amber color. It has a spiced smell, but it’s not sharp or overwhelming.

It’s a deep, rich beer, with a lot of flavor of pumpkin in addition to the usual assortment of spices. It’s well rounded, bold and heavy, in terms of flavor. From first to last, you get a strong pumpkin ale with a great start and a strong finish.

All in all, this is one of the best pumpkin ales you can get, right up there with my favorite, Pumking. Do yourself a favor this Halloween season and check it out.

I give it a Great Pumpkin and the original Black Christmas.

-D-

 

 

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Spoooky Beer Review: Blue Moon’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Next up: Blue Moon’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale

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I know Blue Moon entirely through their Belgian ale, which I do not like. To be honest, I don’t like any Belgian ales, on any level. So I took a chance here, a deep personal risk, to try their Harvest Pumpkin Ale. For all I knew, it was a Belgian that tasted like pumpkins. And no one wants that. Not even people that like Belgian ales would like that.

So I cracked it open and I sat it on the kitchen counter and I stared at it for a good five minutes, not even daring to pick it up. That’s when I realized, that the only thing worse than a Belgian ale that tasted like pumpkins, was a warm Belgian ale that tasted like pumpkins. I took a deep breath and swigged it down.

It’s a very pleasant, yet complex enough pumpkin ale. It’s a little sweeter than some of the other ones I’ve tried and the flavor is round and mellow, without any real sharp tang to it. The spice flavor, while present, is also not as strong as some other pumpkin ales I’ve had and more compliments the slight pumpkin and beer flavor than overpowers it.

All in all, a good pumpkin ale and one that I would recommend to people who haven’t had one yet and might be frightened off by the burly and strong flavors of Pumking or one of it’s ilk.

A pleasant fruity little ale and it finally gives me a Blue Moon product I can get behind.

That’s not Belgian.

I give it five waffles and a sprout.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Spoooky Beer Review: Wachusett’s Octoberfest Ale

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Next up: Wachusett’s Octoberfest Ale

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Since I needed a break from pumpkin ales, I decided to go back to our old friend, the Oktoberfest Ale. It was while I was drinking this particular ale that I realized that I really don’t know what defines an Oktoberfest ale. What separates it from other ales? Age, mid-range alcohol content and an amber color apparently. Oh, and it has to be brewed in Munich, otherwise it’s not an authentic Oktoberfest beer.

Which might be why Wachusett went with a slightly different spelling of Octoberfest here. Their beer is definitely amber in color, a nice red-orange glow that would look at home on a pumpkin ale.

It’s light and airy and crisp, a perfect complement to a Fall day. It’s flavor is a little tart, a little sweet and very refreshing, if not overly complex. Unlike some other ales I might mention, it is not bland or lacking definition, but manages to find a balance between a light and pleasing flavor without sacrificing all of the complexity.

I definitely recommend it for people who don’t really want to chug down a lager or any darker, more mysterious beer filled with things hiding in the abyss. This is a beer made for sitting and relaxing on the porch while the first Fall leaves begin to fall from the trees.

I give it a smiling scarecrow, a goofy dancing skeleton and a couple of ears of corn.

Also, you can probably only buy it in New England.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Spoooky Beer Review: Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Next up: Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale

For whatever reason, I’m incapable of not drinking pumpkin ales. It’s becoming a struggle for me. I use the reviews as a cover, but, deep down, I would drink the pumpkin ales anyway. Do you know how many I’ve bought to review and then just made disappear before even managing to snap a blurry picture of them with a monstrous spider in the background? A LOT.

At first glance, it has the same orange-y hues that most pumpkin ales have, but it’s deeper and darker, almost red. It smells a lot like any other pumpkin ale, but maybe with headier blast of spices.

It tastes a little like a subdued Pumking. No, that’s the wrong word for it. Not subdued. More subtle, not as bold a pumpkin flavor. But just as complex. Maybe MORE complex. Both beers are great pumpkin ales. They both deliver on spices and pumpkin and make you think of Fall with a beer, which is really all you can ask of a pumpkin ale.

But Imperial Pumpkin Ale is more spice than pumpkin and is quieter and more sly. If you have a friend who thinks Pumking is too much for him, then go with Imperial Pumpkin Ale. They’re both royal. They’re both imbued with the power of Halloween. And they’re both really great pumpkin ales.

Let me put it this way, before Imperial Pumpkin Ale, I thought Pumking was going to be the the best all season, but Imperial Pumpkin Ale has shaken my faith.

I give Imperial Pumpkin Ale five Pumpkinhead-era Lance Henriksens.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Cambridge Brewing’s The Great Pumpkin Ale (Entry II)

 

 

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Next up: Cambridge Brewing’s The Great Pumpkin Ale

 

 

I’m going to be honest with you: I’m kind of getting sick of pumpkin ales. They taste violently of pumpkins and I can only take so much of it. And why JUST pumpkins? Come on guys, there are more ways to celebrate the season than with the flavor of pumpkins! Like….candy corn beer.

Ugh, never mind. Talked myself out of that right quick.

Luckily for me and my sudden bitterness toward pumpkin ales, The Great Pumpkin Ale is nowhere near as strongly flavored as the truly awesome Pumking. It has a strong, spicy smell that’s immediately no better or worse than any of its cousins. And the first taste gives you a strong burst of spice flavor, but not a lot of pumpkin flavor.

It’s the finish that makes this a more dissatisfying beer, pumpkin ale or otherwise. It just kind of…stops and leaves you hanging with a kind just-there aftertaste. It feels…incomplete.

I made Emily try some while she was eating some pumpkin bread (that I baked myself) and she said it was really good. So! If you want a good beverage to go with your pumpkin based foods, go with The Great Pumpkin Ale. Its less in-your-face pumpkintude will complement your meal with aplomb!

I give it a Charlie Brown Halloween Special.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Magic Hat’s “Hex”

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Pre-Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Next up: Magic Hat’s “Hex”

After all these pumpkin ales, I needed a break. There’s only so much cinnamon and pumpkin you can drink before you start sneezing holiday cheer. So I went and picked up Magic Hat’s Hex, a Halloween theme beer that promises no kind of pumpkin and delivers on that promise.

When a brewery decides to eschew more traditional means of a seasonal beer (light ales in the Summer, IPAs in the Spring, Rauchbiers in the Winter {ugh}), they have to really go the extra mile to sell it as that season’s beer. This generally means the packaging is going to get all holiday up in your grill.

Take “Hex” for instance. There are demons and vampires being served beer by a floating witch waitress while they sit at a blood red table under a blood red sky and the whole thing is framed with wrought iron and spiky brambles. Bam, there’s Halloween for you. Now, it doesn’t have to taste  like Halloween at this point. You bought the beer for a party and you’re going to use the actual bottles as decoration.

But it does have to taste goodIt can’t all just be gimmicky labeling and spooky boxes. If you don’t want to drink what’s in the bottle, then you just plunked eight dollars down on a refrigerator decoration, which would have been better spent on cotton ball webs and plastic spiders.

Luckily for you and for me, “Hex” is a pretty decent beer. It has a good, strong burst of flavor; kind of tart and there’s just the slightest hint of Belgian in there. It’s not the most intense beer, but nor is it the disappointingly bland brew that is Scarecrow, a beer you’ll be meeting later in the week.

I’m not generally a fan of Magic Hat, but I like this. It’s that little bit of tartness that does it for me. It’s a little heavy, but not too much and it doesn’t overpower you with flavor.

On the downside, it does tend to…linger a bit. Like an IPA that overstays its welcome a bit too long, Hex leaves behind a bitter aftertaste, but on the periphery of your mouth.

All in all, “Hex” was surprisingly decent and a well rounded seasonal beer that made me want to give Magic Hat a second chance. Bring a six pack to that Halloween party you’re going to. The host will welcome the additional spookiness and people won’t break half-empty bottles over your head when they taste it.

I give it, Hell, I don’t know…two zombies and a murderous conjoined (but detached) twin in a wicker picnic basket*.

-D-

*A head nod and a wry smile to the person who gets the reference.

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Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Smashed Pumpkin

 

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Pre-Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Next up: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Smashed Pumpkin

Remember yesterday when I was talking about beers that call themselves pumpkin ales, but don’t really deliver in that department? This is one of them.

Oh, it has that same gorgeous orange color as the others and it smells great, but it smells like cinnamon. It smells so strongly of cinnamon that it doesn’t even really smell like beer. That’s a little alarming.

The first sip basically verifies what your nose already told you; this beer tastes a lot like cinnamon. And not much like anything else. It’s by no means terrible. I think there are only a few people in this world who hate the taste of cinnamon and those people are heartless fiends who also dislike marshmallows in their coco and videos of panda babies stumbling down slides.

But this is a flavor that’s more evocative of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving than Jack o’ Lanterns and Halloween. Or Christmas! Cinnamon is a Christmas spice too!  If you removed that bad-ass label with the Jack o’ Lantern, the orange and gold and the pumpkin themed name, you could totally market this as a Christmas beer (“Kringle Ale”) with a drunk elf in snazzy green elf shoes on the front.

It’s a good beer with a strong kick (9% Alc./Vol.), but in spite of all the Halloween marketing, it’s hardly a Halloween beer with nary a pumpkin flavor in sight.

I give it a goddamn Ho-Ho-Ho! and a Merry Christmas! for this Halloween brew.

-D-

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