Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Had an ice-cold Pumpkin Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Co. out of New Hampshire last night.  I don’t recall if I’ve had it in past years so the only thing I can compare it to is the other pumpkins I’ve tried thus far here in 2008.  And I’m a big fan of the pumpkins, so I’ve had a few.

I liked this one a lot.  It started with a stronger pumpkin aroma mixed with some spices than some of the other varieties I’ve started with.  It was also a bit sweeter.  I saw one reviewer over on Beer Advocate call it “pumpkin candy”, and that isn’t far off.  The sweetness was offset a bit by a blast of hops there at the finish.  The result was a very drinkable beer that I could easily see having more than one of over the course of the evening.

While it would probably go well with any number of Autumn dishes (or even a bag of chips), it seems to me like this is an ale better suited to drinking on its own.  Very nice.

My Rating: 7 out of 10.


Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

I started to enjoy this Pumpkin Ale from Weyerbacher Brewery out of Pennsylvania more and more as I worked my way through it.  The initial taste left me a little flat.  Not enough pumpkin…too much pumpkin…not enough spice…too much spice.  It was all swirling around and I couldn’t get a handle on it.  Then I put it down for a couple of minutes and tried again.

Second time was the charm!  The aroma doesn’t knock you off your feet, but the taste is pure, mellow pumpkin.  A hint of spice, certainly a lot milder than many a pumpkin out there.  And you aren’t blindsided by the high ABV (8.0%), hence the Imperial moniker.  Had a very easy going finish as well.  Surprising for such a high alcohol brew.

I had the screen door open on a night when there was just a touch of Autumn crispness in the air.  It started to drizzle and a little breeze filled with sea air began to waft in.  This is when I really started to enjoy it.  Autumn is my favorite time of year, and beers like this one make it all that much more special.

My Rating: 7 out of 10.

Chicken Killer

Oh, yeah….the Chicken Killer!

I really wanted to get drunk tonight. So after a few cans of Butternut varities, I settled on a barley wine from Santa Fe Brewing Company called Chicken Killer. 10.2 ABV would probably settle the score, right? Oh yeah!!!

It was delicious, and that isn’t just the buzz talking. Well, it might be the buzz typing but I’ve never been one to keep my digits from singing their stupid song. Rock on, brothers!

I love barley wines, and this one didn’t disappoint. It had a great, fruity aroma with a taste to back it up. All the way. Never felt like too much alcohol or too much malt. Just great beer. This was my first brew from Santa Fe Brewing Company, but if the rest of their line is any where near this then I am a fan.  I had this with a big ass hamburger, bacon and some baked beans.  Not my normal Saturday night, but if I were on the trail with that food and this beer…happiness would ensue.

Give it a go!

My Rating: 7 out of 10.

Stone Vertical Epic 07

I think I messed up.

I’ve had beers out of Stone Brewing, Co.from California before, and I’ve really enjoyed them.  So when I saw the Vertical Epic last week at the local distributor, I didn’t think twice about giving it a go.  What I didn’t know then was the back-story to the Vertical Epic line of brews from Stone.

Starting in 2002 they have produced a very, very small batch of ale (I’ve read in the neighborhood of 300 cases or so) that they would release on a special day.  2/2/2002, 3/3/2003, 4/4/2004 and so on.  Each individual brew was designed to be aged in the bottle until 12/12/2012 when the beer aficionado should try each with a group of fellow enthusiasts in a “vertical tasting”.  Everything from the 11-year old 2002 brew to the un-aged 2012 ale.  That was the design.  I didn’t know that.  You can read about it here, if you prefer.

Not that it would have changed when I drank the ale.  No, beer is more of an immediate thing for me rather than something I would choose to wait 11 years to quaff.  However, if I had known about the design of the ale I probably wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place.  The version I purchased was the 07 vintage.  Which means that it was probably sitting on the shelf of this beer store for the better part of the past year.  So I don’t know if it was supposed to taste the way it tasted or if it was ruined by a year in the warmth and light of this particular beer store.

Because it was nasty.  Almost un-drinkable.  Way too much of an alcohol taste for my liking without any of the sweetness or mellowness of a great malty ale.  The aroma, the inital taste, the aftertaste…nothing was good.  It was just plain awful.

I hope it was only my bottle that was ruined after a year in the store, and I ain’t waiting until 2012 to try a fully aged bottle.  But I usually like the offerings from this brewery.  Without another bottle to test it against, I gotta call foul on this one.

My Rating: 2 out of 10