Tasting: September 24, 2014
Style: Pumpkin Barley Wine
Beer #: 618
On the whole, I really don’t like pumpkin ales. Every year I get sucked into trying a couple in hopes that I will find one that I can truly appreciate. One of my problems with pumpkin ales is that they taste like the cinnamon, allspice and clove used to make pumpkin pie not pumpkin itself. My other major problem with pumpkin is that they invade beer shelves in a massive way beginning in August.
So, here I am again with another pumpkin-based beer – Heirloom Pumpkin from Almanac Brewing. The interesting twist for me is that Heirloom Pumpkin has a barley wine as its base beer. Here’s how the brewery describes Heirloom Pumpkin:
This velvety American Barleywine-style ale is brewed with over 1,000 lbs of organic heirloom pumpkins and aged in rye and brandy barrels for a year. This decadent autumn sipper pairs well with pecan pie, bread pudding and a warm campfire.
Farm to Barrel
Our Farm to Barrel beers highlight the tradition of aging beers in oak barrels. This strong ale is aged in used brandy and rye barrels for 12 months. During this time the flavors of the barrel and beer merge, making something new. As the barrel “breathes” it slowly imparts flavor of brandy and rye, oak and vanilla into the beer. Inside our pumpkin infused barleywine slowly evolves, developing more complex flavors and aromas. This slow process can’t be rushed. We test the barrels every few months (perks of the job) and when we think it’s ready, the barrels are drained and blended with a fresh batch of delicately spiced barleywine . The resulting beer can be aged for up to three years in the bottle, where the flavors will continue to blend and evolve.
Rich ruby-ish brown color. Not much of a head and that’s not a surprise at 12% alcohol by volume. Here’s the nutmeg and clove nose. Oh boy – is it here we go again? First sip, I’m concerned but a few more and I realize this isn’t your typical pumpkin ale. It has a rich brown sugar and caramel base which is the influence of the barley wine. Heirloom Pumpkin also picks some vanilla and earthy wood from the barrel influence. This barley wine has a strong boozy warming but it works well with the spice. Mouthfeel is full and even though Heirloom Pumpkin is dominated by nutmeg, gingerbread and clove it is the best pumpkin ale I’ve had to date – 90 points.