SMUTTYNOSE PUMPKIN ALE
STYLE: PUMPKIN ALE
4.25 / 5.0
Look: 4.5 | Smell: 3.5 | Taste: 4.5 | Feel: 4.5 | Overall: 4.25
Brewery at a glance: About two years ago, Smuttynose was finally distributed to Indiana. I hadn’t heard much about the brewery when they first arrived but my interest was quickly drummed up given that all of my favorite local pubs had at least one of their beers stocked in just a few short weeks. Aly and I go to a lot of local restaurants that feature a large selection of beers because we’ve had this theory that any place that cares about their brews cares about their food. There have been very few times in our experience, local or otherwise, where this hasn’t rung true. Even though this a slight digression, I feel it necessary to provide this sidebar because it was at many of these local restaurants, including JK O’Donnel’s, Black Dog Pub, and Calhoun Soups, Salads, and Spirits gave me an opportunity to have my first beers by Smuttynose. Kicking up the cobwebs of my memory, I seem to recall that I first tried their Robust Porter. After just a few sips and the rare ordering of a second glass, it joined the upper echelon of my long list of favorite porters.
For the record, porters may be my favorite style of beer so this statement is not to be taken lightly. From there, a friend of mine and I shared a bomber of Homunculus, a big Belgian IPA, at The Brass Rail while watching some local music. It may have been the music or the ridiculous label featuring the brewers’ heads on the tips of sperm but this beer really won me over and solidified that these guys weren’t messing around. Since then, I’ve had a few other brews such as their really excellent take on a brown ale, Old Brown Dog Ale, and their solid IPA contribution, Finest Kind. They make a solid product and their brews are something you shouldn’t skip should you see them at your local pub or liquor store.
Look: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale pours a deep, rich orange, coppery color with a finger of clear white foamy head. Its very opaque and a deeper orange color than the other pumpkin beers that I’ve had in this series and probably looks closest to the actual color of a pumpkin. The head sticks to the glass throughout the session and leaves a very attractive bubbly lacing. Its definitely a looker and looks like what I would expect if I had ordered a pumpkin beer at the pub. While I haven’t done it on any of the other beers in this series, I have to spend some time commenting on this one’s label. I’ve always been a fan of Smuttynose’s graphic influence. Most of their labels are old timey photos with very modest imagery which is very indicative of the brewery’s style. They make really great, solid beers and don’t seem to be too flashy about their influence on the craft beer culture. In fact, the back of this one’s label encourages the drinker to visit the brewery, somehow conjures up feelings of a small town brewery with its message, and paints a picture of what the city would look like this time of year with its realistic pumpkin on the front of its label.
Smell: Sadly, I had just gotten over a cold when I decided to review this one and my nose isn’t working to the best of its abilities. Even with this ailment, this beer’s smell cuts through. It starts off advertising its sweetness but isn’t overpowering. This tapers into strong scents of rich pumpkin flavor with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. While I’ve struggled to describe the pumpkin scent in this series, this one truly smells of pumpkin and almost smells of roasted vegetables and weedy hops. As the glass was slowly finished, I started to smell the sweet caramel malt that was probably used in the creation of this beer. It definitely is a great representation of the style of beer.
Taste: The brew hits with a strong sweet taste that mellows into earthy pumpkin and hops. Its prolonged taste profile gradually accents the spices in the smell with nutmeg, pepper, and cinnamon. It isn’t overly sweet and is probably the closest to tasting like pumpkin pie than any of the other beers I’ve had in this series due to its more subtle, understated characteristics. Because, let’s face it, pumpkin pie isn’t overly sweet without whipped cream and almost has a bitter, spicy flavor. If I were to compare it to another style, it has more in common with the taste of a lighter pale ale than the bigger, malty pumpkin beers that usually dominate the pumpkin ale style. It has a little bitterness and reminds you that hops are present. The hops are at the end of the flavor profile and seem to remind you of pumpkin pie’s earthy taste. As it warms, you can taste hints of caramel and toffee as the profile completes. I truly really like this pumpkin beer and would be one of the first I recommend to someone who isn’t a fan of the style.
Feel: This one is probably the lightest pumpkin beer I’ve had which makes it very easy to drink. It isn’t watery like most lighter beers but is just light enough that it doesn’t feel like you are drinking a meal. Its carbonation stays present through the end of the session and makes the beer taste very creamy, almost like pumpkin pie. I’m normally a big fan of the bold, malty body of a pumpkin beer but this one has one me over on the lighter take on the style. It rolls around your pallet like velvet and, even though I hate using this word when talking about beer, is legitimately smooth.
Overall: I’ve always been a huge fan of Smuttynose beers and wasn’t sure what to expect with them doing a pumpkin ale. The brewers at Smuttynose just simply know how to make a great beer and this is no exception. Out of all of the beers I’ve had for this series, this will be one of the few beers that I’m already looking forward to buying again next year and cannot wait to recommend it to those that turn up their nose towards pumpkin ales. It is definitely a great place to start if you are getting into the style or are curious about what offerings the style has. I don’t know if this is offered anywhere but I can’t imagine what this one would taste like on a nitrogen tap and sure it would accentuate its very creamy flavor. Smuttynose, if you are reading this, take note. This beer on a nitrogen tap or in a nitrogen can would be divine. Readers: If you take away one beer from this series you have to try, get this one. I honestly cannot believe just how good it really is and hope this review doesn’t sound like I’m gushing. It is seriously that good.
Have you had this brew? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.