Category Archives: Fruited

Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale

rating_excellent85 points

Rogue beers certainly stand out in the package store — big, hulking bottles with screen-painted labels. But their Pumpkin Patch Ale stands out even among the stand-outs.

It comes in the same hefty bottle, but this one is fully painted an impressive bright orange. But it’s what that orange paint hides that really impressed us.

roguepumpkinpatchPumpkin Patch has a near-perfect appearance, with a slightly cloudy tobacco leather color, ample carbonation and good lacing.

Smell and taste are both laden with pumpkin, which makes sense, since Rogue grows its own pumpkins in Oregon for use in its beer.

The pumpkin aroma is balanced with notes of buttery caramel. Mouthfeel is sudsy, yet mouth-coating.

The taste of Pumpkin Patch is different than most other brews in this variety. While the cinnamon and allspice flavors typical to the style take a back seat, what isn’t lacking is the taste of pumpkin — sweet, buttery pumpkin — and the taste of beer.

Aftertaste is very smooth, with a sweetness and a bit of hops.  That smoothness, coupled with a mix of true beer taste and fresh sweet pumpkin, earned this beer huge points on drinkability.

If you’re looking for a true beer that allows you also to enjoy a pumpkin taste without all the spices that mask it, give Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch a try.

In that huge orange bottle, you shouldn’t have trouble locating it.

(Appearance 9.33, Smell 7.83, Taste 25.33, Aftertaste 15.83, Drinkability 26.33)

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Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin

rating_excellent82 points

Molasses. If we could sum up our review of Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin in one word, that’s it. Molasses.

Of course, we have a hard time writing these reviews in short form, so we’ll continue. But if you hate molasses, you can stop reading now.

harpoonimperialpumpkinGood. They’re gone. It’s just us now. What’s wrong with them? Am I right?

The imperial in Imperial Pumpkin, in Harpoon’s case, is imperial stout. Thick, syrupy, black-as-night stout. Intrigued? Yeah, we were, too.

This witches’ brew pours with the opaqueness of black coffee with a brownish head that dissipated quickly. Our panel found it very attractive, but we would have liked a little more carbonation.

Smell was rated high, with huge aromas of molasses and smoke, immediately invoking visions of drinking it around an autumn campfire.

Taste and drinkability are where Imperial Pumpkin grabbed big points. The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, almost that of a sipping liqueur — which our panel agreed is exactly the way to enjoy this beer.

The taste is pure molasses, through and through. There is a smokiness and slight roasted bitterness, like many stouts. But the molasses notes and high alcohol content (10.5% ABV) augment the taste wonderfully.

What’s missing is a notable pumpkin flavor. We assume that it’s in there, and most of our panelists docked the beer points on its absence. But the ghost of pumpkins past did little to dissuade our panel from raving about the taste.

Aftertaste was judged fairly high, dominated by a sweet smokiness accompanied by a warming sensation of the high alcohol content.

So, we suggest that you grab a bottle of this, light up a campfire, and enjoy this autumn masterpiece as slow as…yup, you guessed it. Molasses.

(Appearance 7.17, Smell 8, Taste 25, Aftertaste 16.33, Drinkability 25.33)

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Southern Tier Warlock

rating_excellent81 points

Warlock is at the dark end of the pumpkin spectrum, but packs a lot of flavor and complexity. It’s supposed to be a pumpkin imperial stout, but with a lot of competing flavors in it, it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis.

southerntierwarlockBut luckily, all those competing flavors are delicious, making it an unmatched experience when it comes to the pumpkin theme.

Warlock pours like a big dark beer — near-black with a lasting brown head that laces the glass. Our panelists loved the appearance, but loved the smell even more.

This beer is loaded with aroma…vanilla bean, hints of licorice, sarsaparilla and marshmallow. It’s a crazy combo for sure, but our panel marveled at the complexity and the uniqueness.

Taste was rated well, though not as strongly as the smell.  Flavors of marshmallow, vanilla and molasses are strong, though a couple of panelists noted the vanilla was somewhat artificial, and lent to a slightly medicinal note. Others felt the huge malt character gave it a sugary cereal backing flavor that they enjoyed.

Aftertaste is vanilla Coke, some smoke and overtones of licorice, with a warming alcohol sensation. This is a big beer — 10% ABV –that needs to breathe, and our panel found Warlock really opened up as it came up to room temperature.

Drinkability was rated solidly at 23, with two factors detracting from a higher score. First, with such intense flavor and a high ABV, the panel felt this was more of a sipper — a “one-and-done,” if you will. Second, you’ll notice that we made no mention of pumpkin.

Southern Tier markets Warlock as having a “pumpkin pie” scent and flavor, though none of our panelists detected a trace of it. So we felt that we had to dock points for that, especially if someone ventures into a store looking specifically for a pumpkin beer.

Be that as it may, our panel felt Southern Tier Warlock was in keeping with the season, with warm, fall flavors. It’s a unique take on a pumpkin imperial stout that won’t disappoint…you know, unless you’re looking for pumpkin.

(Appearance 9, Smell 9.83, Taste 23.83, Aftertaste 15.17, Drinkability 23)

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Jack-O Traveler

rating_verygood78 points

If you’re a fan of candy-like pumpkin flavors, but not particularly a fan of beer, then holy crap do we have the beverage for you!

Meet Jack-O Traveler, a pumpkin shandy exploding with pumpkin, cinnamon and sugary caramel.

travelerjackoJack-O pours a cloudy reddish amber color, which our panel rated fairly well. It resembles a glass of juice more than a glass of beer, but considering shandies contain a fair amount of juice, that’s to be expected.

The aroma of the brew is spectacular, with pungent aromas of pumpkin, caramel, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.

We put this one to the test of an 11-person panel, since shandies are perceived as a love-them-or-hate-them niche.

travelerjacko2But our panel overall responded very favorably to the juicy, sweet taste of Jack-O. Pumpkin pie spice — cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice — dominate the flavor.  Mouthfeel was somewhat juicy with a fizziness that most panelists enjoyed, though a couple noted the beer seemed somewhat watery.

The pumpkin flavor and sweetness lingers into the aftertaste, however the taste of beer does not — after all, this is a shandy. The aftertaste is pleasant, but we wish it had more of a wheat beer finish.

A couple of panelists noted that pumpkin pie spice flavor was a bit too sweet and that would probably temper their ability to have more than one or two.

So if you’re not a fan of shandies, you probably aren’t going to be swayed by this brew. However, if you do enjoy the flavors of fall in a glass, then you’ll want to try this one out…because when it comes to pumpkin shandies, no one holds a lantern to Jack-O.

(Appearance 8.3, Smell 8.6, Taste 23., Aftertaste 15.4, Drinkability 22.4)

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Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

rating_verygood73 points

While the pumpkin beer market has exploded in recent years, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery started brewing its Punkin Ale way back in 1995.

That means that Punkin Ale is, technically speaking, old enough to drink itself.

Look for a newly redesigned version of this label.

Be that as it may, we still felt it necessary — for the sake of our fans — to drink it ourselves. After all, we’re doing this for you.

And you’re welcome.

Punkin Ale has a dark orange-amber appearance consistent with many of its other offerings, like its flagship 60-Minute IPA…albeit darker. Aroma is light, but pumpkin and spice are detectable.

Taste is predominantly malt with light pumpkin and spice notes. This beer definitely puts the beer before the pumpkin. Hops show up as the flavor develops, and our panel generally enjoyed the flavor.

However, aftertaste is where this beer loses points. Our panelists noted a yeasty, somewhat bitter, estery aftertaste. Pumpkin pie spices linger in the aftertaste, however, which the panel found pleasant.

Drinkability was rated fairly well, with most panelists commending Dogfish Head for focusing on the beer first and pumpkin second; and for being less full-bodied than other Dogfish offerings.

However, the lackluster aftertaste and a mouth-drying effect caused our panel some concern that they’d tire quickly of Punkin Ale.

Bottom line…if you’re a fan of Dogfish Head brews and want to dabble in the pumpkin patch, you might like this. But if you really want intense pumpkin flavors, you might find yourself telling this 21-year-old brew to go drink itself.

(Appearance 7, Smell 7.67, Taste 22.83, Aftertaste 12.33, Drinkability 23)

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Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

rating_verygood72 points

Long Trail’s Brush and Barrel series combines a seasonal, small batch brew with labeling provided by a local artist.

These beers can either be purchased in a single bottle or in a cylindrical tube with a print of the artwork from the label.

I’m sad to admit it, but the artwork is what caught my attention with this beer.  It really is the only reason why I bought the beer in the first place.  But it was serendipitous since it provided us with another beer to include in our pumpkin ratings.

longtrailimperialpumpkinThe majority of the panel scored the beer in the good range, but two panelists thought it was excellent.  So what separated the van Goghs from the “van Nos?”

All agreed that Imperial Pumpkin’s caramel coloring looked very good. Some panelists noted a nice head on the beer.  Smell was deemed sweet with notes of pumpkin, clove, caramel, and…beer?  Good to know this beer actually smells like a beer, which I guess in our pumpkin beer ratings, was not a given.  I’m looking in your direction, Shipyard.

The imperial aspect of the beer made its presence known upon taste.  Alcohol was present and strong.  For the panelists that rated this beer excellent, both found hints of bourbon in the flavor.  As for the rest of us, the strong alcohol flavor was found to be a little too much, and detracted from the other flavors in the beer.

The differing views carried over to the beer’s aftertaste.  Panelists either commented on the strong — but not lingering — medicinal flavor or the smoothness of the brew.  One panelist did note that he enjoyed the aftertaste more than the actual taste.

And…now we find ourselves at drinkability.  The two excellent ratings definitely saved this beer from being cast aside like some seasonal decoration that begins to wither and rot.  However, the sole comment from the panel was “One tasting glass is enough.”

Considering how the panelists who enjoyed Imperial Pumpkin didn’t bother to comment on drinkability, it’s clear we were all ready to move onto the next pumpkin offering.

Even though Long Trail’s Imperial Pumpkin wasn’t our highest rated beer of the evening, it certainly came with the best artwork.

Unfortunately for Long Trail, the last time I checked we’re not known as The Basement Art Ratings…but maybe?!

(Appearance 8.5, Smell 8.17, Taste 21.17, Aftertaste 13.5, Drinkability 20.33)

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Shipyard Pumpkinhead

rating_verygood71 points

At some point along your pumpkin beer travels, you’re going to grab a Shipyard Pumpkinhead. It’s inevitable.

You’ll find yourself standing in the aisle of a liquor store, overwhelmed with the array of pumpkin beers.

shipyardpumpkinYou’ll stand there, bewildered, with one hand on your chin and the other folded across your chest under it, quietly muttering, “I just don’t know, there are just so many pumpkin choices,” as a dude in a ratty baseball cap and a weathered T-shirt with the arms ripped off walks by with a suitcase of Bud Light and calls you a “lady boy.”

Let him enjoy his canned urine. This is a difficult decision for you.

But deep down, you know Mr. Ready For Anything™ has a point, so your eyes dart back and forth until you say, “Screw it,” and reach for the six pack adorned with the guy riding a horse with a creepy jack-o-lantern for a head. That’s the one that first caught your eye, anyway, wasn’t it? Congratulations, you just chose Shipyard Pumpkinhead.

Pumpkinhead is our social media manager’s favorite pumpkin beer. And no matter how many other, better pumpkin beers she’s enjoyed — and no matter how many times we’ve fired her — she and her penchant for Pumpkinhead endure.

She’s not off-base, though.

Pumpkinhead is unimpressive on pour. It looks like apple juice, with as much carbonation as…well, apple juice. Our panel struggled to produce a head on this beer.

But, it has a nice light scent of spicy cinnamon aroma with floral notes. Mouthfeel is a light combination of sudsy and fizzy.

Our panel found the taste light with more of a cinnamon apple cider taste than a strong pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin is detectable, but very light.

A couple of panelists noted the aftertaste as slightly metallic with a sweet, malty finish.

Because this beer is light, and the flavor is pleasing, drinkability was rated fairly well. It’s a very good beer, but it lacks the pumpkin flavor that makes the style popular. As one panelist noted, “if you’re looking for a pumpkin beer, though, this might not be it.”

(Appearance 6., Smell 6.33, Taste 21.83, Aftertaste 14, Drinkability 23.17)

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Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

rating_good67 points

Cherries play a significant role in American history. You’ve heard the fable of President George Washington chopping down the cherry tree at the tender age of six.

In 1850, President Zachary Taylor died after ingesting a large quantity of cherries that may have been tainted with cholera.

samadamscherrywheatIn 1912, the People of Japan presented the United States with 3,020 flowering cherry trees, many of which still line the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

And in 2015, The Basement Beer Tastings sampled Cherry Wheat, a beer brewed by a company named for one of America’s Founding Fathers.

So our patriotism was running high as we tasted Cherry Wheat, but much like anything a Patriot touches, our hopes were slightly…deflated.

Sorry. That joke was sitting on the one yard line, just waiting for someone to carry it into the end zone.

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat was included in the ‘Guilty Pleasures’ tasting theme, because it was one of the beers that introduced co-founder Jon Graney to the world of beer, lo those many (several) years ago.

Cherry Wheat pours a dark amber honey color, slightly cloudy with lively carbonation, though light. The panel did not note much of a head, with only slight residual foam developing on pour.

This beer lives up to its name on aroma. It had a strong smell of sweet cherries, described by the panel as “cherries jubilee” and “cherry popsicle” by our panelists. The scent was balanced by slight notes of malt.

Panelist generally enjoyed the taste of Cherry Wheat, with most of them commenting that oats and malt dominated the taste, with cherries taking a back seat.

While the smell of the beer is sweet, the taste is not. One of our panelists found that disappointing, but most of the panel were pleasantly surprised at the oat-forward character.

The oaty taste trailed into the aftertaste. By this point in its flavor profile, cherry was only a distant memory. Our panel noted that they would have enjoyed a lingering cherry aftertaste, but the oat flavor was deemed pleasant.

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat is a decent beer, and their decision to offer this patriotic fruited wheat beer is admirable.

But if you’re looking for a historic brew, there are better choices out there. We cannot tell a lie.

(Appearance 7.67, Smell 7.67, Taste 20.33, Aftertaste 12.67, Drinkability 19)

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Glass Bottom Banana Cream Stout

rating_verygood78 points

Proving further that Mike and Jon share a brain, Jon also chose to bring a banana flavored beer to the June tasting.  His selection was Glass Bottom Brewery’s Banana Cream Stout.

Glass Bottom is yet another brewery located in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.  They describe themselves as a “nanobrewery” since they “produce less than 100 gallons of beer at a time.”  According to the brewery, this allows them to focus lots of attention on each of their beers.

glassbottombananaDoes all that attention lead to a quality product? Clearly you’ve seen the Very Good badge at the top of this post, so yes, Banana Cream Stout is a quality beer.

Does that mean you should stop reading this review?  You’ve already read this far, and nobody likes a quitter.

We decided to taste Banana Cream Stout after trying Wells Banana Bread Beer.  Being the constant reader that you are, you probably recall how some panelists commented that Banana Bread might be better suited as a stout.  Glass Bottom’s offering is probably as close as we’re going to get to actually testing that theory.

Appearance received almost universal high marks with only one panelist detracting points because of a rather unimpressive head “for a stout.”  The other panelists were quite taken by the beer’s dark, cranberry hue.

On the other hand, the majority of the panel thought the stout’s aroma was only okay.  They were finding estery bourbon , vanilla extract, and medicinal/metallic scents.  One panelist, though, thought it a had a very nice smell of banana and coffee.

The one dissenter trend continued when the panel rated taste.   Most thought the taste of the beer was very good.  Noted flavors were coffee, malt and bourbon.  The panel was split on the banana flavor…either finding little of it or finding lots of it.  The perceived excess or lack of banana did not seem to affect panelists’ scores, though.  A syrupy texture that coated the inside of one’s mouth was enjoyable.

The one panelist who did not rate the taste highly had trouble coming to terms with the fact that the beer was a stout.  He even noted that Banana Cream seemed to “hit me wrong,” but he’d be willing to try it again.  As you can imagine, his aftertaste and drinkability ratings were lower than the rest.

Light smoke appeared on the aftertaste, and panelists felt it lingered nicely.  One panelist even gave the aftertaste a perfect rating, greatly enjoying how the smoke flavor kept coming back.

Drinkability was rated well.  Two panelists agreed they would have no trouble individually drinking the 22 ounce bottle.  The panel all thought Banana Cream Stout was a beer best served warmer — closer to room temperature — to fully bring out the aroma and flavor.

Indeed, Glass Bottom Brewery’s attention to detail has helped to craft a quality stout.  We certainly appreciate them for it, just like we appreciate you for reading this entire review.

(Appearance 8.8, Smell 7, Taste 23.2, Aftertaste 16, Drinkability 22.6)

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Wells Banana Bread Beer

rating_good69 points

When we decided on our fruited beers theme for June’s tasting, most on the panel were thinking of Belgian wheat ales and shandies.  However, one panelist thought of a beer that had long captured his intrigue.  A beer called Banana Bread, brewed with actual bananas.

What daring, intelligent, and, handsome nonconformist would be brave enough to introduce this one of a kind brew to the panel?  Someone most certainly not afraid of the scorn or ridicule this beer could possibly inflect upon him from the other panelists.

wellsbananaOkay…it was me.  I brought Wells Banana Bread Beer to the fruited beers tasting.  I had actually been eyeing it for quite some time but was always a little apprehensive to purchase it.  This tasting, though, was the perfect opportunity, since now I wouldn’t have to possibly suffer through a whole pint by myself.

Most of the panel were familiar with the brew when it was introduced.  And, much to my surprise, everyone had similar feelings  about wanting to try it but never willing to commit to a whole bottle.

Starting off, Banana Bread earned high points for both appearance and smell.  It had a very attractive caramel color with lively carbonation. The aroma was strong enough that the panel could smell it as the beer was being poured.  Bananas, vanilla, and malt were all found in the scent.  One panelist described the smell as “candied bananas.”

Even though bananas and vanilla were identified in the flavor, it was felt that the beer was missing the sweetness that had been hinted at in the aroma.  One panelist felt it had a “lager” taste.  Also, the mouth feel was deemed to be too light; and panelists thought the beer would be better suited as a stout.

Aftertaste ratings were mixed.  Some panelists got a strong metallic flavor at the end while other panelists continued tasting bananas.  Another panelist felt the aftertaste was slightly bitter and ashy.

Unfortunately, the novelty of Banana Bread seemed to wear off pretty quickly.  Most felt that this would be a one and done beer thus negatively affecting drinkability.

No, the beer really isn’t a substitute for actual banana bread.  Still, it received an overall rating of Good.

So, if you’ve been contemplating trying Wells Banana Bread Beer, it could be time to take a chance and purchase a bottle.  And who knows, you just may find it more appealing than we did.  Hiyoooo!!!

(Appearance 8.8, Smell 9., Taste 20.2, Aftertaste 13.6, Drinkability 17.8)

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