Pumpkin Brew Review – Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

I apologize profusely for the delay. I know that everyone has been dying to know which pumpkin beers they should be chugging. Just kidding. No one should ever chug a pumpkin beer. Anyway, I started off the tastings on an extremely positive note. Beer Number One catapulted me into a delicious fall mood. But then I tried Beer Number Two (an unfortunate bargain option), and it made me want to vomit. #2 tainted my taste buds, but I’m battling back (by switching to red wine for a minute). Tis the season for fall beverages, and I want to share my tasting experiences with all of you! The terrible beer will be unveiled in time, but first I want to tell you about my favorite so far (already surpassing all of last year’s contenders):

straight shooter.

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Smuttynose Brewing Co. (Portsmouth, NH)
“Ale Brewed With Pumpkin Puree & Spices”
5.84% ABV

The label is Smuttynose-basic. Name and a photo. And for this particular brew, you get a straight up pumpkin. You know what you’re getting yourself into. Simplicity appreciated.

Smuttynose is not overpowering in its smell whatsoever. Most notably, when whiffing, you don’t get the feeling you’re about to eat some pie (or drink something curiously similar to a pie). It smells of lightly spiced beer with pumpkin undertones. Emphasis on beer.

Pleasant surprise! The pumpkin flavor is much more present in taste than in smell. The pumpkin comes across as complimentary to the body of the beer versus being a bossy flavor.

The spice is subtle, as hinted in the aroma, but it gives the beer a light edge. This pumpkin brew is not sweet but extremely drinkable.

NOT overly sweet or squashy (thank god), it’s a pumpkin beer that knows it’s a beer (and not a pie). Not too heavy – it feels possible to drink more than one in a row (often a rarity with novelty-flavor beers). I recommend this easy-flowing fall treat beer if you’re ready to start pumpkin-dabbling.

4/5 pumpkins. Out of the gate, this one feels hard to top!

Falling back into things.

It’s officially (feeling like) fall, and I am officially needing to update this thing (see what I did with the post title..). Baseball is revving up, football is BACK, and pumpkin beer tastings are right around the corner. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU?

I’m tickled.


The Pumpkin Brew Review will be back starting October 1. I’m diving deeper into the pumpkin beer world, being EVEN MORE critical of the seasonal beverage for your reading/tasting pleasure, and I’ll be updating twice as many times as last season. This is serious.

batter up.

The long road that is a baseball season is nearly at its end for the 2012 season. Can Washington and Cincinnati continue their domination? And which of those is the NL’s best? Is this the year Texas finally goes all the way? Can gutsy Oakland or surprising Baltimore make the run to the end? SO MANY QUESTIONS. And soon, so many answers. I’m going to break down the Wild Card and playoff match-ups and stick with baseball until the bitter and/or glorious end.

just… crazy so far.

Wow. All I can say is wow. The replacement refs are terrible, upsets are happening all over the place, Arizona is 3-0 and New Orleans is 0-3. What is going on this season?! I’ll be paying closer attention (and writing about it) regarding what’s to come.

I know there hasn’t been much to take in at DITS lately, but that is about to change. DO NOT REMOVE THAT BOOKMARK!

PUMPKIN BREW REVIEW – Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale
The Boston Beer Company (Boston, MA)
“Ale Brewed With Pumpkin and Spices”
5.7% ABV
The Sam Adams label you recognize and feel comfortable with – with a few orange and brown touches. They don’t need to mess around with pumpkin pictures. I’d feel weird if they did.
The pumpkin is very present in the aroma, with some spices that help the smell edge closer to pumpkin pie instead of pumpkin-can-opened-during-baking (which tends to just smell like the suburban aroma of Devil’s Night – smashed pumpkins).
A nice light pumpkin taste (closer to squashy in the taste, versus the quasi pumpkin pie smell), with minimal but present spicing, and Sam Adams beer flavor all mixed in there.
LIGHT on the spicing, but just enough to not make it feel like you’re drinking squash beer. This is probably the best balance of pumpkin v. spice I’ve had so far.
A lighter Sam Adams beer with squashy pumpkin puree mixed in to keep it at the appropriate power level for a pumpkin beer. Not as bold in taste as their Octoberfest, which I think works here. A nice easy-to-drink pumpkin beer without losing touch with being a beer. Meeting me in the middle, how nice!
3.75/5 pumpkins. Favorite so far.

PUMPKIN BREW REVIEW – River Horse Hipp-o-lantern Imperial Pumpkin

Hipp-o-lantern Imperial Pumpkin

River Horse Hipp-o-lantern Imperial Pumpkin
River Horse Brewing Co. (Lambertville, NJ)
“Ale Brewed With Pumpkin Puree and Spices”
8.1% ABV
In the River Horse vein but pumpkinized. Marbly orange outline (which I like very much) and the signature label hippo turned into a jack-o-lantern. Distinctive font. Distinctive pumpkin play on their brand. Well done.
Wheaty with pumpkin on the end… like opening a beer and a can of pumpkin in close sequence and breathing deeply.
Medium pumpkin-ness in taste. As labeled and advertised, this beer is working with pumpkin puree instead of something along the lines of pumpkin pie. It’s not sweet, but it’s there, and not overwhelming – What I feel is unfortunately lacking (please forgive me, seasonal delights) in some of the pumpkin spice lattes I’ve had in my time.
The spicier spices of fall are present – this is not sweet in the least. Allspice, nutmeg and the like float in on the darker ale. It’s not burning your tongue or anything near that (gross), but it’s balancing out the booze, which is undeniably present in an 8.1 ABV beer.
On my first sip, I thought this was funky, but as I continued and focused I started to really enjoy this. I was expecting sweeter, but this was the opposite, and it turned out to be a good thing. I think that pumpkin beer haters (and their numbers are growing, aren’t they?) need to sip this in their taste testing, because it’s a beer first, with pumpkin and fall accents in the background. A stepping stone between sweet pumpkin treat beer and darker, bolder Octoberfest.
3.5/5 pumpkins.

PUMPKIN BREW REVIEW – Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Punkin

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)
“A full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg”
7% ABV

Plain. Almost boring.
Like beer… maybe a little spice in there too. Pumpkin, where are you?
Fake out with the aroma… I tasted pumpkin! Squashy up front. After-taste that I do not love. Just kind of bitter.
The spice isn’t really there, for as much as the label is telling you about. I was not finding brown sugar and cinnamon on my tongue, that’s for sure. I wanted a little balance with the spicing. The hoppiness of this beer was breaking through any other flavoring.
This is definitely full-bodied as the label states, but not very balanced in its flavoring. I think this would be fairly fantastic with some fall foods, and it makes me want to be sitting on a porch in a sweater. Listening to football on the radio. But back to the beer.. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. The taste was great if I kept up with my sipping, but if I let up, the finish was really not making me happy.
2.75/5 pumpkins.

Pumpkin Brew Review – Punk’n

I have an obscene hankering (hilarious combo of words) for pumpkin beer this season. I’m going to do my best to sample a wide variety and provide my thoughts. I am in no way a beer aficionado, a beer snob, I don’t have a microbrew degree etc. I just like a good beer, and I am an elitist in life, so I have a lot of opinions. I wish I had a loftier goal for this, but I don’t. Let’s do this!
Uinta Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City, Utah)
“Ale brewed with pumpkin & spices”
4% ABV

Simplistic, straight-forward. Great colors (the orange is a hue I love), and a huge upgrade from its previous label, which was ugly. Sorry.
After popping the cap off this short bottle, you get a nice whiff of pumpkin and spice. It smells like pie-baking, and it smells like I’m in for something good.
Where the hell is the pumpkin flavor? Fake out with the aroma. It’s incredibly light flavor-wise, not necessarily a bad thing, but if you blindfolded me I’m not sure I’d know I was drinking a designated pumpkin ale.
The spice is there, it’s light and enjoyable. Not overpowering whatsoever.
This is a very light beer when you actually start sipping. Punk’n is very easy to drink, and it would be easy to have several bottles. Not a lot a body, and I’m kind of wishing for more (which might be why it seems easy to drink). I like where it’s headed, I just want more.
3/5 pumpkins. A lightweight pumpkin brew contender. Emphasis on the light.

Pigskin & Pumpkin Preview.

It’s a gorgeous Saturday in New York City, although a little on the warm side for fall (for me). College Football has already kicked-off today across the country, and there is a semi-full slate of big-time match-ups (see below). As for Penn State, the 4-1 Nittany Lions host the 3-1 Iowa Hawkeyes at 3:30 PM for the Lions’ Big Ten Home Opener. In recent years, Iowa has been notorious for thwarting Penn State’s efforts.

I felt her pain.

But with this being Iowa’s first conference game of the season and with a considerably different defensive roster this year, it’s hard to say just yet where the Hawkeyes stack up. We’ll soon find out if Iowa’s #9-in-conference ranking in total defense is reality, and subsequently a big positive for the (impotent) Penn State offense. We’ll also see if Penn State’s defense is as good as it seems (Devin Still is beastly in a good way), while they try to contain the conference’s top passing offense led by Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and receivers Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis.

-#3 Oklahoma is currently visting and beating on #11 Texas (48-10 in the 4th quarter)
-#17 Florida attempts to knock off #1 LSU in an SEC match-up at 3:30 PM
-Another big SEC game – #15 Auburn (people are taking note of the Tigers now/again) visits #10 Arkansas, 7 PM kick-off
-Ohio State @ #14 Nebraska for a Big Ten battle at 8 PM. Both are coming off ugly Big Ten opener losses.


Plastic cup.. bummer.

I am working on sampling a vast variety of pumpkin beers available this season, and I’m going to be reviewing them. I am not a beerie (foodie… but with beer.. no?), but I have opinions, and I am very pro-beer and pro-pumpkin, respectively. With that said, my rating system is going to be unique. Check out my first review tomorrow.