Thursday, October 31, 2013

Even More Pumpkin Beers!

In this post I continue my self-assigned goal of tasting and commenting on as many pumpkin beers as I can get my hands on.  I'm running later into the season than expected due to a lot of travel (see my entries on a trip to the South, and upcoming write-up on Chicago) and other business. 

Brooklyn Post RoadThis is a seasonal pumpkin beer from Brooklyn Brewery.  They have quite a bit of info on the website, including food pairing options.  Hopped with English hops, it comes in right around 5% ABV.  It looks like they only add nutmeg instead of the usual mélange of pumpkin spices.

Aroma: Spicy notes up front, mostly nutmeg.  I get some malty to grainy character.  Not as aromatic as many of the beers I've been trying.  No hop aroma.
Appearance: Suitably orange in color with excellent clarity.  There is a fine bright white head that fades very quickly.
Flavor: Not a sweet beer, comes off as dry throughout the taste.  Subtle to nearly absent spices in the flavor--hint of nutmeg and possibly cinnamon.  I get a tingle from spice on the tongue.  Has a bit of herbal astringency, coming off as medicinal but not overwhelming.  No hop flavors. 
Overall: Not a bad beer.  Very drinkable, but the body is a bit light.  Not a ton of spices here, but present.  This may be a good gateway beer for those who don't like pumpkin beers since it is very restrained. 

He SaidThis is a collaboration between 21st Amendment and Elysian breweries.  Elysian is known for making several pumpkin beers, and I've actually been to the brewpub during their Great Pumpkin Festival (where they put something like 12 or more pumpkin beers on tap.)  The two brewers decided to each make a different 8.2% ABV pumpkin beer and release a 4 pack of cans containing two of each.  There is a bunch more info on the link above.

The first I'll review is the Baltic Porter, brewed with pumpkin, Vietnamese cinnamon, and caraway seed. 
Aroma: Strong anise aroma, followed by some sweet cinnamon.  I get a woodsy or herbal note as it warms.  A bit of roastiness and some malty sweetness as well.
Appearance: Deep brown in color with ruby highlights--not totally opaque.  Fine tannish head, that fades fairly quickly.
Flavor: Very strong spicing up front--gingery, liquorice or anise (probably the caraway, but I didn't know that was an ingredient at the time...)  Some earthy, almost vegetal or peaty flavors.  Ends somewhat roasty and dry, almost burnt coffee--more like a dry stout.  Not much body in here for such a big beer.  I get a bit more sweetness as it warms up.
Overall: A bit thin and dry for a Baltic porter.  The combination of roast and spice with thin body lead to an astringent finish that I don't love.  Spices are very strong in this one.  3 of 5 rating.  I wanted so much more from these guys!

Second up is the Belgian Tripel brewed with pumpkin, tarragon and galangal (Thai ginger.)
Aroma: Mild banana and clove phenols from Belgian yeast.  Mild herbal ginger character, but restrained.  Some sugary sweetness present.
Appearance: Deep gold in color with a slight haze.  White Belgian lace on the edges of glass, but fades soon after the pour.
Flavor: I get sweet malt and sugar up front.  Nutmeg or clove flavors mixed with herbal allspice/or anise.  Body is light to medium.  This beer ends dry but not astringent.  I do get some minimal pumpkin flavor/earthy finish as it warms.  Spicing is very subtle in this one.
Overall: A nice tripel first.  The quiet spicing plays well with the esters and phenols from the yeast.  A well balanced and drinkable beer to pair with fall foods.  4 of 5 rating.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead: Made with 2-row English pale, malted wheat and light Munich malt, as well as Hallertau and Willamette hops.  Uses an English ale strain.  I don't find any note of which spices are in the beer, so will have to trust my senses! 
Aroma: Lots of ginger in the nose, followed by strong cinnamon.  Some fruity esters combine with the spices to make this smell like apple pie!  Possibly some vanilla.  No hop aromas.
Appearance: Light gold in color.  Fine white head that fades quickly to edges of glass and then gone.  Perfectly clear.
Flavor: Hints of cinnamon and ginger up front, followed by a mellow sweetness.  Ends with a somewhat flat and bland finish, though crisp.  Very light mouthfeel.  No hop flavors.  A bit of apple ester here as it warms up.
Overall: A pretty weak beer.  Little body and flavor here to work with, overwhelmed by the spices.  As Sj and I drank this we eventually poured out the last of it to make way for another beer.  2.5 of 5.

Indeed Sweet Yamma Jamma:  This is the second year of this unusual yam beer from Indeed.  I really wanted to try it last year, but missed it before it was gone.  I was happy to find a can at The Four Firkins this year, and might have to try to find more!  Made with pulverized sweet potato and candied yams, as well as a mysterious spice mixture (per the website.)
Aroma: Sweet malt dominant, but has some earthy/musty notes.  Cinnamon and ginger, but subtle.
Appearance: Deep copper color.  Large off-white head that is very persistent.  Small bubbles.  Very clear beer.
Flavor: Very sweet initially with strong vanilla notes.  I get some cinnamon at the tail end.  I can actually taste the sweet potato or yams!  Ends off-dry but no astringency.  I get some caramelized melanoidin flavors.  Body is medium, with a pleasant creamy mouthfeel.
Overall: Very well balanced.  This beer reminds me of the marshmallow topped candied sweet potato casserole of my youth--in a glass!  I think this is one of the more characterful beers I've tried in the quest to drink all these pumpkin/yam beers.

Next Up: Drinking and eating your way through Chicago!

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