Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Smuttynose Brewing Company Pumpkin Ale

Now that we’re past Oktoberfest season, it seems like a Thanksgiving-themed beer ought to be in order. It’s kind of too soon to break out the winter warmers and Christmas ales, right? While not exactly a Thanksgiving beer, Smuttynose’s Pumpkin Ale seems to fit the bill pretty well. It honors the brewing traditions of some of America’s earliest brewers. Beer-makers of colonial times, who couldn’t always afford pricey imported malts, often made do with locally grown ingredients like squash and pumpkins. Smuttynose takes that classic concept and marries it to the premium ingredients and meticulous craftsmanship of contemporary micro-brewing. Real pumpkin puree is added to the mash along with “traditional spices” (allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg) to create an ideal flavor profile for the fall season. Unlike typical pumpkin ales, this one doesn’t rely on the “essence” of pumpkins. And unlike typical pumpkin ales, it’s got an earthy hop bitterness to it that somewhat subdues the sweetness of the pumpkin and cinnamon. Damn, this is a spicy beer! It smacks you in the mouth with spice! But it’s a great beer. It delivers a wonderful smoothness and a ton of flavor. The hops and seasonal spices are way out in front, while the pumpkin, toasted malts, and fruity yeasts play a perfect complementary role in this delicious concoction. Compared to a lot of pumpkin ales that come on like liquid pumpkin pie, Smuttynose’s version is less dessert and more beer. Consider it a “beer drinker’s” pumpkin ale – and a damn fine one at that! Something tells me that the Pilgrims never drank anything quite like this.


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