Category Archives: Seasonal

Goodwilltasting’s Pumpkin Beer Roundup!

Well folks, I’m still slacking on the posts and I apologize, but I thought I would put up a little something for my favorite holiday of the year: THANKSGIVING.

We are less than 2 days away from all the indulgence and deliciousness that is Thanksgiving Dinner. There are few things I enjoy more than a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, surrounded by good friends. The great Ron Swanson once said “Crying: acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.” I’d like to add the sight of a Thanksgiving spread to that list.

So what beer goes best with Thanksgiving Dinner? Some might say something boring and light to balance with all the heavy, rich food, like a dry pilsner or light-bodied stout. I’m gonna say, “hey jackass, it’s the holidays!” and go with something a little more festive: PUMPKIN BEERS.

I love pumpkin beers.  I love pumpkin beer season.  I love Thanksgiving… have I mentioned that yet? One important note for pumpkin beer n00bs: PUMPKIN PIE SPICE ALONE DOES NOT A PUMPKIN BEER MAKE! For me, pumpkin beer isn’t legit unless there is actual pumpkin added during the brewing process.  So many beers out there masquerading as pumpkin beers when all the brewer did was add a little nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon to the beer before they bottled it. You should be outraged.

So without further ado, here are 5 of the most recent pumpkin beers I’ve tried, ranked from most hated to most favorite. Take a look!

Pumpkinhead

NAME: Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead, Portland ME.
ABV: 4.5%
REVIEW: Disclaimer: I drank this on tap at a bar a few weeks ago and wrote down my tasting notes there. They read: “Shipyard pumpkin head. Coors light with essence of pumpkin. D.” Light smell of pumpkin pie spice on the nose, unpleasantly light bodied, short, fizzy finish.  I recommend Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin instead. It is LEAGUES better.
GRADE: D

Pumple Drumkin

NAME: Cisco Brewers Pumple Drumkin, Nantucket, MA
ABV: 6.0%
REVIEW: Drank from the bottle so not sure about appearance. Sweet citrusy smell with a hint of nutmeg. Subtly spicy, high carbonation, sweet finish. For a pumpkin ale it’s not very pumpkin-y. Kind of a pilsner with hint of pumpkin pie.
GRADE: C

Uinta Pumpkin

NAME: Uinta Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin, Salt Lake City, UT
ABV: 10.31%
REVIEW: Dark copper color, deep caramel, clove, and cinnamon smell and taste. The spices kind of overpower the whole beer but overall a solid pumpkin beer to go with your thanksgiving leftovers. Kind of boozy probably from the oak barrel aging but whatever, it’s the holidays!
GRADE: B

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

NAME: Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (Pugsley’s Signature Series), Portland, ME
ABV: 9.0%
REVIEW: Light brownish copper color, foamy head. Nice notes of pumpkin and nutmeg on the nose, smooth velvety mouthfeel, rich pumpkin and spice flavors come through, sweet finish. Delicious. I don’t understand how the same brewery can also make the pumpkin-flavored garbage water they call Pumpkinhead.  Makes zero sense.
GRADE: A-

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

NAME: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Easton, PA
ABV: 8.0%
REVIEW: Beautiful dark amber color, smells like fresh pumpkin pie, tastes like it too. A little spicy and more well-balanced than the Smashed Pumpkin. Creamy mouthfeel, sweet lingering finish. This is pumpkin pie in a bottle. Enjoy!
GRADE: A-

SO I hope this helps guide those of you who are stressing over what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever it is, throw in a six pack of pumpkin beer and you will be a Thanksgiving Champion!

Happy Turkey Day you filthy animals.

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Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus Bier

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NAME: Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus Bier
TYPE: Seasonal Winter Doppelbock
ORIGIN: Austria
ABV: A big ol’14%
REVIEW: Pours medium brown, sweet smelling with a honey and a little maple, strong malt backbone. Sweet taste and a little boozy at the end. Full, creamy mouthfeel. Nice, warm beer for a bitterly cold night in Portland Maine. BTDubs, if you ever find yourself in Portland, do yourself a favor and check out Novare Res. Probably the best beer bar I’ve been to in New England.

goodwilltasting grade: B+.

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Russian River Pliny the Younger (it’s kind of a big deal)

It’s Valentine’s Day, playas. I hope you’re treating your ladies right. If you’re single, I hope you’re enjoying a cold one with good friends. If you don’t have friends, get off the computer right now and put yourself out there man!

Anyway, here is a Valentine’s Day review of a VERY SPECIAL beer I tried around the same time last year. This here is Russian River’s ever elusive Pliny the YOUNGER!!!! This beer only makes an appearance once a year, is released in draught form in VERY limited qualities, and is usually kicked come happy hour (or if you’re in Massachusetts, come closing time, since happy hour is illegal here, which is ridiculous).  Anyway, I tried this at Local 44 back in Philly last year. In case you were wondering, I took a day off from work and got to the bar by 10 am to try it, and I don’t regret it one bit.  It is an incredible beer. So without further ado, here is the review:

Russian River Pliny the Younger

NAME: Russian River Pliny the Younger
TYPE: American Triple IPA
ORIGIN: Santa Rosa, CA
ABV: 11%
REVIEW: Golden amber color, white foamy head, medium-strong hop nose with nice citrus fruit, nice, crisp bittersweet taste with a crisp mouthfeel, smooth, sweet, finish. Huge, smooth, delicious IPA that you wouldn’t know was 11% unless you read the menu. Despite the anticipation, I actually still prefer Pliny the Elder but still very much worth the effort.

goodwilltasting grade: A

By the way, in case you haven’t yet, you should definitely check out my QUICK BEER REFERENCE, where you can find all my reviews in convenient spreadsheet form. Do it.

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Magic Hat Séance Saison

Magic Hat Seance Saison

NAME: Magic Hat Séance Saison Ale
TYPE: Seasonal Saison
ORIGIN: Burlington, VT
ABV: 4.4%
REVIEW: Dark caramel cola color, bubbly head. Deep malty toffee smell, slightly sweet and herby taste with a short, flat finish. Smelled better than it tasted. Overall just a really underwhelming beer. After trying this and 21st Amendment’s Sneak Attack I decided that people need to stop trying to make fall/winter saisons. Keep ’em bright and summery the way nature intended!

goodwilltasting grade: C-

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Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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NAME: Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale
TYPE: Winter Warmer
ORIGIN: Boonville, CA
ABV: 6.9%
REVIEW: Caramel color, toffee and a little honey on the nose. Tasted sweet and nutty, medium bodied mouthfeel with good carbonation, sweet, almost syrupy finish.

goodwilltasting grade: B

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Anchor Steam Celebration Ale

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

NAME: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2013
ORIGIN: Chico, CA
TYPE: American IPA
ABV: 6.8%
REVIEW: Dark amber color, strong thyme and pine smell, nice strong hop bite at first, mellows out to a malty and spicy sweetness with clove and anise notes. Crisp mouthfeel with a smooth finish. This ale is ubiquitous for a reason. Nice warming winter IPA that would go well with any thanksgiving feast.

goodwilltasting grade: B+

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Slumbrew Yankee Swap

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Here’s another Christmas Ale brewed locally in Ipswich, MA.
Slumbrew Yankee Swap Ale brewed with maple syrup. Ipswich, MA. 12% ABV. Dark brown opaque color, nutty sweet smell, very sugary, boozy taste that’s pretty heavy on the maple syrup. Kinda sickeningly sweet with a short bitter finish. Might be good as a donut glaze but not really a beer. Try dogfish head 75 min IPA for a better use of maple syrup in beer.
goodwilltasting grade: C
EDIT: The taste actually improved as it came up to room temp. So maybe C+ but that is generous. Sorry Slumbrew!
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Heavy Seas Yule Tide Ale

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I’m a few days late but I wanted to keep sharing some of the Christmas beers I’ve been enjoying this winter. Seasonal beers are what make this miserable season worth enduring. Especially here in frigid Boston!

Heavy Seas Yule Tide Imperial Red Ale. Brewed with ginger and aged in rum barrels. Baltimore, MD. 9% ABV.

Dark copper color, minimal head, fruity smell, heavy on the ginger, notes of coconut. Really gingery taste with good malty backbone, smooth, not too boozy for a 9% beer aged in rum barrels, sweet finish. Pretty complex and spicy beer to ring in the holidays.

goodwilltasting grade: B

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Anchor Steam Christmas Ale 2013

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Here we have Anchor Steam’s 2013 Christmas Ale! This is something I look forward to all year.  The recipe changes year to year so it’s always a surprise what they’re coming out with.

Winter Warmer Ale, 5.5% ABV. Dark black coca cola color, minimal head with moderate lacing. Pine, nutmeg, clove on the nose, nice nutty, roast-y taste with subtle sweet hop finish. Well done Anchor! I like it more than the 2012. But not as much as the 2011.

goodwilltasting grade: B+

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