That’s right, herein I sample but a single, solitary pumpkin ale. Not a collection or “Nine Pumpkin Beers You Have to Try! (and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!!).” Just one pumpkin beer.
It’s by New Belgium, mind you, which is a brewery that hits far more often than it misses. A brewery, in fact, that is almost a guarantee of an at least decent beer, and often an extremely good one.
It’s hazy copper in colour, with a rather predictably spicy aroma, one heavy on allspice and not exactly subtle in cinnamon, backed by notes of actual pumpkin. The flavour, however, is quite different from what the nose had me expecting, with a tangy-sweet note evident right off the bat, not from wild yeast fermentation but rather from fruitiness. Perhaps…yes, those aren’t the pumpkin’s eyeballs the raven is pecking, but cranberries, which the label – now that I read it – lists as an important ingredient.
The body of this beer washes over the tongue in waves of flavour: first tangy fruit, then sweet herbals, spices, and back to the fruit again, finally finishing with a dry and very gentle spice, plus a touch of herbal character, perhaps lemon thyme or, now that I read the label all the way to the finish, lemongrass.
Overall, this is a different sort of pumpkin beer, one which might even change the attitude of the pumpkin beer haters – after, or even if, they get past the spicy nose, that is. For me, I think it’s a laudable exercise if not exactly a fully successful one, with a mix of flavours that doesn’t quite gel. I’ll finish the glass, maybe, but I won’t be looking out for more.