Book Review: Oregon Brew Tour


Last fall, I received an e-mail from Debra Ledford, who told me she and her husband were writing a book about beer in Oregon. She stumbled on my blog and liked one of the pictures, and asked for permission to use it in the book. I agreed, and pretty much forgot about it.

A few months ago, I received another e-mail from Debra. Their self-published book “Oregon Brew Tour” was complete and she wondered if I’d be interested in profiling it on my blog. I’m a fairly agreeable guy, so I told her I’d be happy to review it. A few days later, a 500-page book arrived in the mail—and I had some reading to do…

To be fair, I have not read any other books dedicated to Oregon beer, so I can’t compare it others. However, I can tell you what “Oregon Brew Tour” offers—and let me start by saying it’s very comprehensive.

In researching the book, Bob & Debra went on the mother of all Oregon brew tours and drove across the entire state visiting breweries and brewpubs. Oddly enough Debra doesn’t like beer—actually, in the introduction, she states she “really” doesn’t like beer. However, since Bob enjoys it, she decided to join in the adventure playing the most important role—designated driver.  He’s a lucky man, that Bob! Before you even think about drinking and driving, be sure to read the overview of Oregon’s drunk driving laws in the beginning of the book.

Then it gets into the breweries. There’s a write-up (1-9 pages) on each brewery, listed in alphabetical order. I don’t know the number of breweries in Oregon, but it appears to be complete. Heck, they even profile the one-hit-wonder maker of Panty Dropper Ale (which won a GABF medal in 2009)!

After the breweries are covered, The Ledfords provide a listing of Oregon Beer Festivals. I have not seen a more comprehensive listing in one place. Then it moves into homebrewing with a statewide listing of homebrew supply stores and homebrew clubs.  Other goodies include beer judging forms, suggested brew tours by region, tasting note forms, and a beer glossary.

Oregon Brew Tour is an excellent reference guide—and an interesting read.  My favorite part of the book was the in-depth brewery profiles. The back stories are always fascinating and often inspiring. I learned something new about each brewery—even the ones I thought I knew well. With Debra’s permission, I’m publishing her writeup on 10-Barrrel Brewing in its entirety (at the bottom on this post). My hope is to provide a flavor for what this book is about.

It’s a fairly thick book, but it should fit in the glove compartment in your car. Keep it in there, and you’ll always have brew tour information at your fingertips as you travel across Oregon. To order, or learn more about the book, please visit http://www.brewtourbooks.com/.

In full disclosure, I received an evaluation copy of the book. I did not receive any form of compensation for this review, nor will I receive commissions for subsequent purchases that may arise from this review.


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10 Barrel Brewing Company

1135 West Galveston
Bend, Oregon 97701
503-306-4488

“Independently Handcrafted in the Northwest”
           
           
Changes happen at 10 Barrel Brewing, beginning with the name.

Originally named Wildfire Brewing, they were compelled to change their name in 2008, two years into business, after receiving notification that they were in violation of a registered trademark.  Oops!  Rather than get involved in expensive and time-consuming litigation, the partners chose to relinquish the name to the Wildfire Restaurants chain of Illinois, a division of Lettus Entertain You Restaurants of Chicago.

The source of inspiration for the revised name is rather obvious to everyone; they brewed in a ten barrel brewhouse.   Though some have thought this choice to be a mistake, equating it with “naming your dog, ‘Dog’,” we think it was an inspired selection.  Basic, unpretentious, easy to remember, it is rather like “clean lines” in decorating.

Rebranding, though, was not so basic.  It meant changing their name on kegs, taps, and signs, to name a few items, as well as designing a new logo, plus getting the new name out to the public.  All this re-naming cost the partners a reported $45,000.  Though the publicity and its resulting write-ups generated by the name change may have provided a bit of free publicity, helping to assuage the cost a bit, that is a large sum to recoup through free publicity.

The question is, now that they have their new fifty barrel system with a projected ten thousand barrels to be produced in 2011, will another name change be forthcoming?  Definitely not.  But what about the ten barrel system that produced a respectable 2500 barrels in 2010?  Housed right next to the larger system, it will allow for creative testing, without jumping in with both feet.

In order to house both these systems, 10 Barrel will be moving into a 22,000 square foot facility. Plans call for this new brewery to have over one hundred wooden barrels aging at all times.  All these barrels will also allow them to expand into sour beers, an eminent item on the to-do list.  Also in the line-up for the new brewery location will be their own bottling line, a change from the mobile bottling service they have been using, with the possibility of cans later.

Though the company began with five partners, at 10 Barrel, changes happen.  With Paul Cook leaving to brew at Ninkasi, the four remaining partners are:  twins, Chris and Jeremy Cox, Oregon State graduates in business who moved to Bend from their hometown of Lincoln City; and father and son, Brad and Garrett Wells, Bend natives.  Add to this mix, the team of top brewers: head brewer, Dan Olson, formerly with Deschutes ; Tom Tash, previously with Kona Brewing in Hawaii; and most recently, Jimmy Seifrit, another ex-Deschutes brewer considered by other brewers to be one of the top three brewers in the Northwest.  Not to be outdone, the kitchen is now headed up by Chef Justin Hauson, a recent change after Chef Mike Moore, a one-time shoe salesman, became general manager.

10 Barrel began when twins, Chris and Jeremy, who co-owned JC’s Bar & Grill in downtown Bend, decided they wanted to open a brewery.  Starting as a production brewery, 10 Barrel had many taps in Bend and Portland, as well as beer available in about 300 locations around Oregon and Washington, but the next big change came when, in March of 2010, 10 Barrel opened their pub in the building previously occupied by Di Lusso Bakery.  

Extensive remodeling using local and reclaimed materials turned the one-time bakery into a modern, yet simple, hot-spot.  The reclaimed barn wood siding gives the structure a rustic look, while the garage door opening onto the patio lends that trendy, airy touch coveted by many.  More reclaimed wood provides magnificent table tops and chair seats that evoke a compelling desire to stroke them.  Though the look is basic, this pub has been designed high-end with an eye toward giving the feel of a neighborhood gathering place.

Though design is nice, beer is the thing.  10 Barrel proved they have the beer when they won the Bronze Medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival, in Denver, Colorado.  S1NISTER Black Ale pulled the third place finish in the Out-of-Category Traditionally Brewed Beer, competing against 82 other entries.  According to Chris, “S1NISTER put us on the map.”

Summer Ale, a really light body IPA, has been well received by 10 Barrel fans.  For those new to the world of craft beers, it provides an excellent transition; for enthusiasts, it is a refreshing reprieve from the highly-hopped beer so popular in the Northwest.  But…as a company, those on the inside at 10 Barrel like the seasonal India Summer Ale (ISA) better.  Ever open to change, 10 Barrel’s Summer Ale will not be brewed in 2011.

“We don’t have any attachments,” Chris states, “This makes us different…we’ll stop brewing a good seller when we get bored with brewing it.” 

Even with five standards and eight or more seasonals, creativity is important at 10 Barrel.  To add an extra fun element to the creativity, 10 Barrel has the Solera Project.  The barrels for this project are visible high-up in the glassed-in tap room at the pub. This living beer begins with four barrels filled with a base beer, each “belonging” to a different brewer.  Every six months five to six gallons of beer are removed from the barrel and replaced with an equal amount of a different beer of the brewer’s choice.  10 Barrel has created a bit of a competition among the brewers for the best Solera, with the public voting on the best beer at the Solera Party.

“As a brewer the most important quality is the creative side,” according to Chris; 10 Barrel strives to promote and encourage creativity.

This creativity is demonstrated in 10 Barrel’s devotion to supporting the community.  Each month 10 Barrel chooses a local charity to champion.  A portion of proceeds from all “I Drink For Charity” tees sold during that month are donated to the charity.  Then at month-end, 10 Barrel hosts a charity party, with all proceeds going to the charity of the month.  A few of the past charities which have benefited from this unique fund-raising approach are: Volunteers in Medicine, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Bend Firefighter Foundation, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Bend Parks and Recreation District, and Grandma’s House-where shelter, support, and guidance are provided for abused, pregnant, and parenting teens.

One of the surprising things to us was that Bend is slow in the winter.  With all the skiing at Bachelor, we thought Bend would be a hopping place.  But, it seems 70% of sales are made during the summer, when the place is bustling.  Apparently not too many skiers make it into Bend.   So if you are like us and prefer less crowded conditions, grab your chains and make the trek over the Cascades to Bend for a bit of winter wonderland…and Pray for Snow Strong Ale at 10 Barrel Brewing.


Review: Pumpkin Lager, Lakefront Brewery


Pumpkin Lager
Lakefront Brewery — Milwaukee, WI

Stats:
  • Style:  Vegetable Lager
  • Bitterness:  Not specified
  • Alcohol: 6.0% ABV
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "In 1989, Lakefront Brewery owner, Russ Klisch was reading dusty brewing tome, tipping one of our fine lagers and came across a beer recipe that Thomas Jefferson had brewed with pumpkin at his home in Monticello. Pours a light orange with an off-white head. Flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves meld well with a slightly sweet background that actually does taste a bit like pumpkin. Caramel and Munich malts reinforce this beer's mouthfeel and lend to the malty sweetness. Serve our Pumpkin Lager with holiday meals  the spice characters really bring out the depth of full-flavored meats and vegetables.
  — Lakefront Brewery

Random thoughts:  This is the first Lakefront beer I've profiled.  It's also the only lager in my Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup. In fact, Lakefront Brewery claims it's the only pumpkin lager available in the world! I'll take them at their word.

The tasting:  Light copper in color, clear, with a white head that dissipated quickly. Sparse effervescence is visible in the glass. Aroma of spice! Of the pumpkin beers I've tasted, this has the spiciest aroma—by far. Think pumpkin pie potpourri. It's got the cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg like the others. But the cardamom puts it over the top (in a good way).  Since the spices dominated the nose, I expected them to totally overpower in taste—fortunately, they don't. They're strong, but somewhat restrained in flavor (relative to aroma). After the rush of spice, caramel and bready malts are noticeable along with a touch of alcohol. Pumpkin Lager is light bodied, lightly carbonated, and has a smooth, crisp mouth feel. It finishes with...care to take a guess? Spice.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  Pumpkin Lager is a nice beer. If you're into the pumpkin pie spice mix—look no further. Personally, I would have preferred a heftier malt profile to balance it out.

Have you tried Lakefront Pumpkin Lager?  What are your favorite pumpkin brews?


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Review: Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Blue Moon Brewing



Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale
Blue Moon Brewing Co. — Golden, CO

Stats:
  • Style:  Vegetable Ale
  • Bitterness:  Not specified
  • Alcohol: 5.7% ABV
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "A pumpkin ale crafted with autumn's bounty of vine-ripened pumpkin and flavors of cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Then brewed with a touch of wheat for a smooth, lightly spiced finish.”  — Blue Moon Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Blue Moon's beers are widely available and they always offer a seasonal brew. Just the other day, I noticed their Winter Abbey Ale in the grocery store. However, this blog doesn't touch Yule brews until at least November. I'm tasting Harvest Pumpkin Ale as part of my Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup.

The tasting:  Copper in color, clear, with a off white head that dissipated very slowly. It's a nice looking beer. Aroma of caramel malt with notes of nutmeg and clove that dominate as the beer warms up. The nutmeg and clove return and are at the forefront in flavor. It has a light, slightly sweet caramel malt base and a bit of Belgian "fruitiness". It has minimal hop bitterness and alcohol is noticeable in the middle.  It's light bodied, moderately carbonated, and finishes with spicy nutmeg and clove.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  This isn't a bad beer, but I wasn't overly impressed. Should you drink this beer? It depends on your next best alternative. If this is one of the few (or only) options available to you, I recommend you give it a try. It is pumpkin season, after all! However, if you have other gourd-beer options (which may include others in the Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup), I'd suggest you look elsewhere.

Have you tried Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale?  What are your favorite pumpkin brews?


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Oakshire's Hellshire II Imperial Stout Announced!


In May, Oakshire Brewing Co. of Eugene, Oregon released Hellshire Ithe first in its line of barrel aged beers. I interviewed Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk a few weeks ago. We talked about the Hellshire line and he even provided a glimpse of what Hellshire III may bring.

Before we get ahead of ourselves... The details about Hellshire II were just released. It's an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels. The full press release is listed below. It sounds delicious! Like the first edition, quantities will be very limited. So if you want this beer, your best bet is to attend the release party in Eugene on November 12!

1/8/12 Update:  Hellshire II has an unintentional lactobacillus infection. For more details, please read Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk's statement at the URL above.


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Oakshire Brewing to Release Hellshire II, Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels on November 12th, 2011 

Oakshire Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon will release its second Barrel Aged Beer under the label Hellshire on Saturday November 12th. Sales of the beer begin at noon at the brewery in their newly remodeled tasting room and will end at 4PM. The second beer in the Hellshire series is an Imperial Stout that was 100% aged in Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels for 7 months. Notes of vanilla, coconut, oak and bourbon intertwine with the beer's complex chocolate and roasted coffee character, making for a contemplative beer meant for enjoying now, or aging for months or years. It is 10.5% alcohol by volume and sold in 22 ounce wax dipped bottles.

“The Hellshire Beers have been well received and we are excited to bring the second beer in the series,” explains Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk. “The artwork that local artist Sean Aaberg is creating along with these special complex aged beers makes for a great experience.”

According to Jeff Althouse, Co-Founder of Oakshire brewing, “We believe in the artistry of craft beer and I've assembled a great team of brewers who are able to highlight their creative and technical skills through our Hellshire program. Led by Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk, I feel our barrel aged program will become equally as popular as our Single Batch Series and our Seasonal and Year-Round Beers.”

Hellshire II: Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels will be released during Saturday dock sale hours, Noon to 4PM. All of Oakshire's beers will be sampled and pints, growlers, and kegs will be available for purchase. 22 ounce, wax dipped bottles of this special beer will sell for $15 and supplies are limited to roughly 90 cases to sell on the dock. Local live music, and an assortment of food items will also be present at the release party.

About Oakshire Brewing Company: Oakshire Brewing Company of Eugene, OR was founded in October 2006 by Native Oregonian brothers Jeff and Chris Althouse. With the goals of brewing the highest quality artisan beer and providing the highest level of service to their customers, Oakshire has become recognized for consistently brewing fresh, unique and delicious beers in relatively small batches. Oakshire's website is http://oakbrew.com and they also offer brewery tours and beer tasting at their brewery every Saturday from 12-4pm. The brewery is located at 1055 Madera Street in Eugene. They can be reached at info@oakbrew.com or at (541) 688-4555


Review: Dark O' The Moon, Elysian Brewing


Dark O' The Moon
Elysian Brewing Co. — Seattle, WA


Stats:
  • Style:  Pumpkin Stout
  • Bitterness:  20 IBU
  • ABV: 6.5% ABV
  • Malts: Great Western pale, Crisp 77° Crystal, Munich, Cara-Vienne, roasted, chocolate and Special B
  • Hops:  Bittered with Magnum and finished with Saaz
  • Special Ingredients:  Pumpkin in the mash, kettle, and fermenter
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle
  • Full Disclosure:  Sample provided by brewery

Description:  "Pours dark as night with creamy tan head. A little smokiness on the nose with malty bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee with subtle earthy pumpkin and spices for an overall nice and creamy mouth.”  — Elysian Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Dark O' The Moon is the first Elysian beer I've profiled and it's part of my Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup. I've been looking forward to tasting it as a change of pace from the other similarly styled pumpkin beers. On a different tangent, I love the this beer's label!

The tasting:  Pours pitch black in color with a dark tan head (made of very fine bubbles) that dissipated fairly quickly. I was surprised by the lack of head retention. Aroma of roasted malts, espresso, chocolate, clove, and cinnamon. While the flavor was similar to the aroma, the only spice I only tasted was cinnamon. This was a surprise because most of the other pumpkin beers I've tasted have featured nutmeg and clove as the primary spices. As expected, hop bitterness is minimal. It has some earthy bitter notes which seem quite appropriate for the style and season. Dark O' The Moon is medium bodied, has a smooth mouth feel, and finishes with roasted malt and cinnamon.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  In my humble opinion, a pumpkin ale should have spices that are remincient of pumpkin pie. Dark O' The Moon has that. But this beer was memorable because of its differences—the style (stout) and the spice mix (which favored cinnamon). Oddly enough, I didn't taste pumpkin--even though it was added in three different stages of the brewing process. Perhaps my palate just doesn't register gourd. Regardless, I'll revisit Dark O' The Moon next fall.

Have you tried Elysian's Dark O' The Moon Pumpkin Stout?


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Review: Punk'n, Uinta Brewing

  
Punk'n
Uinta Brewing Co. — Salt Lake City, UT

Stats:
  • Style:  Vegetable Ale
  • Bitterness:  10 IBU
  • ABV: 4% ABV
  • Malts: Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Special Ingredients:  Brewed with pumpkin and spices
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "This sessionable pumpkin ale is brewed with fresh pumpkin and seasonal spices. Malt and hops accented with roasted pumpkin and spices of the season. A subtle hint of vanilla and honey. Punk'n is a wonderful compliment to foods with nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove flavors. Try it with roasted turkey, squash or pumpkin ravioli, peach cobbler, or pumpkin cheesecake.”  — Uinta Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:   This is the third of nine beers I'm profiling as part of my my Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup. It's also the first Uinta beer I've tasted.

The tasting:  Copper in color, hazy, with an off-white head that dissipated fairly quickly. Aroma of clove, nutmeg, and bready malt. Flavor of toasted malts, roasted pumpkin, with an earthy hop bitterness in the middle. The spices take a backseat to the maltsa nice change from the other pumpkin beers I've tasted. Also, the pumpkin flavor was noticeableperhaps due to the lighter dosing of spice. Punk'n is light to medium bodied and has a prickly carbonated mouth feel. If finishes with toasted malt and light hop bitterness.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   Punk'n has the nice spicy aroma I expect of the style, but I appreciated how the light spice touch in flavor allowed the malts to come through. Overall it's a nicely balanced pumpkin beer.

Have you tried Punk'n or any other Uinta beers?


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Review: Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, Saint Louis Brewery

  
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
The St. Louis Brewery — St. Louis, MO

Stats:
  • Style:  Vegetable Ale
  • Bitterness:  16 IBU
  • ABV: 8% ABV
  • Malts:  2-Row and Crystal malted barley, Munich malt, wheat malt, chocolate malt
  • Hops:  Marynka
  • Special Ingredients:  Brewed with pumpkin squash and a blend of spices
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle
  • Full Disclosure:  Sample provided by brewery

Description:  "Our Pumpkin Ale has a bold, big pumpkin taste, flavored with Pumpkin squash, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. It has a mild character, with little bitterness and a malty backbone, allowing the flavor of the Pumpkin squash and spices to take the lead.  While pumpkin beers were produced in the early days of the American colonies, they were different from the pumpkin beers we know today.  Colonists used pumpkin and squash as the fermenting medium, since malted barley was scarce.  Once malt became more readily available, it replaced these alternatives to grain.  In the 1990’s, American craft brewers reintroduced the style to the delight of pumpkin beer drinkers.”  — Schlafly Beer

Random thoughts:   Spoiler alert—spoiler alert! I first tasted this beer in August at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Portland. I liked it a lot and it served as an inspiration for my Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup.

The tasting:  Deep copper in color, clear, with lots of effervescence floating through the glass. It has an off-white head that disappeared very quickly. Strong aroma of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and caramel malt. Flavor of nutmeg, clove, caramel malt, and alcohol. In the middle, a mild brown sugar sweetness and hot alcohol emerge. The alcohol kick surprised me as it was hidden in the aroma by the spices. It's medium bodied, has a smooth mouth feel, and finishes with alcohol, clove, and a light bitterness. The alcohol leaves a very dry sensation in the mouth. At 8.0% ABV, I think it would age well and expect a year in cellar would temper the alcohol bite.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  Here's an idea. If you're totally stuffed after Thanksgiving dinner and just don't have any room left for Nana's pumpkin pie, drink this. It's pumpkin pie in liquid form (with a healthy ABV to boot).

Unfortunately, Schlafly beers are not available in Oregon. Schlafly distributes within a 300 mile radius of St. Louis. Hmmm—I have a buddy in St. Louis. I wonder if he'd like to send me a mixed pack of Schlafly beers for Christmas...

Have you tried Schlafly Pumpkin Ale?  If you're a Schlafly fan, what are your favorites?


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Brewpublic's KillerBeerFest: The Taplist


Our friends at Brewpublic are celebrating their third anniversary! To commemorate the milestone, they've organized KillerBeerWeek—a weeklong celebration of great beer. The party kicked off last night at Roscoe’s and concludes on Sunday with a "Recovery" brunch at The Hop & Vine.  The complete schedule of daily events can be found at Brewpublic.

How “Killer” is this celebration?  I just got a sneak-peak at the beer lineup for KillerBeerFest at Bailey’s Taproom on Saturday, October 22.  Take a look and decide for yourself…

Logsdon Farmhouse: Fresh Hop Seizoen
Fort George: Red Tide Imperial Red
Upright: De La Six Blend
The Commons: Rooibos Blend
Flat Tail: GanumNum Imperial Sour Wit aka Downright Witty
Portland U-Brew: Rooibos Red Ale
Barley Brown’s: 2011 Sled Wreck
Laurelwood: Firkin Vinter Varmer with Candied Nuts
10 Barrel: Jimmy Raspberry Coffee Sour
Bend Brewing: Ching Ching
Breakside: Alexander Legume Red Ale w/ Rooibos and Chinato spices
Coalition: Estate Fresh Hop Ale
Walking Man: 2009 Old Stumblefoot
Natian: Old Grogham Winter IPA
Oakshire: La Ferme du Funk
Burnside Brewing: Barrel-aged Strong ale
MacTarnahan's: Bourbon Barrel-aged Ink Blot Baltic Porter
New Old Lompoc: Sour Willy 
Boneyard: Skunk Ape Imperial Red IPA
Mt Tabor: R&R Rooibos RyePA
Cascade: Blueberry Sour
Occidental: Belgian-y Beer

That’s 22 KillerBeers for your sampling pleasure! If you plan to attend, please note that Bailey’s has 19 taps, so not all of these beers will be pouring at the same time.

So head over to Bailey’s on Saturday (or any of the other KillerBeerWeek events) and raise a glass of incredible beer in a toast to our friends at Brewpublic!


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Review: Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams


Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Stats:
  • Style:  Vegetable Ale
  • Bitterness:  14 IBU
  • ABV: 5.7% ABV
  • Malts:  Two-row Harrington, Metcalf, and Copeland pale malts, Caramel 60, Special B, and Smoked Malt
  • Hops:  East Kent Goldings and English Fuggles
  • Special Ingredients:  Real pumpkin and a spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
  • Calories:  199 per 12 oz.
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "A perennial favorite at our brewery Halloween party, Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale is brewed with over 11 pounds of real pumpkin per barrel, adding a full body and sweetness to this dark reddish amber brew.  Deep roasted malts, including a smoked malt, lend a distinct roasted character while traditional pumpkin pie spices give the beer a subtle spice note.  — Samuel Adams

Random thoughts:   I got this beer as part of the Samuel Adams Harvest Collection (a 12 pack containing 6 different beers) and added it to my Great Pumpkin Beer Roundup.

The tasting:  Deep copper in color with an off-white head that dissipated fairly slowly. Very spicy aroma dominated by nutmeg and clove. Sweet malts are present as well. Overall, the aroma is very nice—it's got the pumpkin pie thing going on. The flavor mirrors the aroma with the spices dominating. There are some mild grassy hop notes in there, but I don't taste much pumpkin. It has a mild caramel sweetness and hop bitterness in the middle. Harvest Pumpkin Ale is light to medium bodied and moderately carbonated. It has an effervescent mouth feel and finishes with spicy clove and a mild grassy hop bitterness. 

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  While I loved the spicy aroma of Harvest Pumpkin Ale, the nutmeg and clove dominated the flavor. When it comes to spice in beer, less is more.

In general, I don't think pumpkin itself has a very strong or distinctive flavor. So I find it ironic that I'm profiling nine beers made out of squash that doesn't have much flavor. Personally, I think the appeal of pumpkin beers is in the spicesand it is fall, after all.

Have you tried Harvest Pumpkin Ale or any other Samuel Adams beers?  Do you think pumpkin has much flavor?


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