Pumpkin Ales. You either love em’ or you hate em’. Several weeks ago we Aleheads attempted to concoct a Top 10 list of Pumpkin beers but after a few tired email exchanges we came to the conclusion that no one was overly excited about posting the results. For every hoozah! for the Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin or Southern Tier Pumking there was a collective “Meh” for everything else that was presented. There’s only so much fun you can have in ranking mediocrity so the whole idea was scrapped. So here we are, almost midway through October, with nary a post solely related to the king of Fall seasonal brews. I feel it’s my duty as a born and bred New Englander to end this vicious cycle. With that, I give you Cambridge Brewing Company’s Great Pumpkin Ale!
I’ve discussed Cambridge Brewing Company a bit in the past and reviewed a couple of their exceptional beers – A Sorachi Ace hopped IPA and a Milk Stout. In brief, they’re a phenomenal brewpub just across the river from Boston proper that specializes in local ingredients and putting unique twists on classic styles. They’re also the first New England brewer to bring back the Pumpkin Ale style, which is saying something considering that Pumpkin Ales are “The” seasonal style for every craft brewer in the region. Here’s some highlights of The Great Pumpkin Ale to make you drool a little:
- 150 pounds of organic sugar pumpkins used in each batch. That seems like a lot
- Makes use of organic, local barley
- Barley malted locally at Valley Malt in Hadley, MA, the same area where they source their barley
- Let those last two bullets sink in a minute. As rare as it is to see local barley, you simply NEVER see a local malthouse that can handle small batches. Click on the link to Valley Malt above. If you like beer and you don’t get a little smile on your face, you’re dead inside
- Did I mention they use locally grown pumpkins? Of course they do
NOTES: Growler, freshly filled, poured into a shaker by the dozen ounce
STYLE: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 4.4% (Ah, sweet session)
APPEARANCE: Light amber with hints of orange poking through. Just a touch of haze
HEAD: Thin off-white head, tightly knit, disappeared quickly
LACING: Really non-existent. Could just be the fact that I was pouring from a growler.
NOSE: Nutmeg, little bit of cinnamon, even some vanilla mixing in. The aromatic spices certainly aren’t overpowering – This is no Harpoon Winter Brew. Some spicy hops are present along with a distinct biscuit scent. Fresh pumpkin finishes everything out. Subtle throughout
TASTE: Sweetness hits you up front, then it’s all rich and toasty. What I found in the nose didn’t really come through until the end. While it’s sweet up front, there’s a crispness that balances out the brew, leaving your palette dry and thirsting for the next sip
MOUTHFEEL: Just barely breaking into the medium body category. Ample carbonation
DRINKABILITY: This seems to be the dividing factor between those that love the style and those that hate it. If it’s too sweet and dominated by Fall spices you’ll probably only want one. The same can be said if it’s boring and thin, like the regular Shipyard Pumpkinhead. Balance is key and The Great Pumpkin Ale has that in spades. Add in the fact that it clocks in under 5% and you can drink these boys all day. The 64oz growler is the perfect serving size for this brew.
RATING: 3.5 Hops