Pros: A nice light treat
Cons: Don't lace the glass.
Of the two of us, it's my wife who has a particular taste for pumpkin brews. She was out at a brew pub on Long Island, John Harvard's, and had their pumpkin ale poured into a glass that had a rim laced with cinnamon. She wanted me to try it. I never did get out there with her. Pretty lame.
Pumpkinhead on Draught
This last weekend we were up in Portland Maine. We dined in a restaurant by the name of Charlie Bieggs just outside of Portland and my wife jumped when they said they had Shipyard Pumpkinhead on tap.
The ale, when brought over to the table by our waitress, was a translucent yellow orange colour with just enough orange tint to say, "There may be some pumpkin in this brew." There was little head by the time it was presented to us. No lace on the glass either. I took a sniff. Cinnamon was dominant. I liked it. That same cinnamon aroma came through in the taste but an addition of nutmeg could be noticed too. I didn't pick up any pumpkin taste at all.
The mouth feel was different than expected. I thought I would perceive more complexity from a pumpkin ale. Having said that, I was quite pleased with the feel. It was light, sprite and slightly sweet. I never picked up a true pumpkin taste, only some spices that could be associated with pumpkin pie.
The taste of the cinnamon/nutmeg spices with the light and sweet mouth feel that combined with substantial carbonation was pleasing to me. The finish was clean and fresh. I immediately wanted more. I could chug this stuff easily if I cared to. I truly enjoyed this sweet treat and had a very fair share amount of it that weekend.
I must be honest and compare this to a soda-pop. It is so light it has few beer qualities that I expected with a name like Pumpkinhead Ale. The difference from soda was that though I got a clean finish, there is a slightly oily feel that lingers. We had more Pumpkinhead at another restaurant that weekend at the Dry Dock Tavern in the Old Port section of the city. Ha, my wife even tried to see if the barmaid would do the laced rim bit for her. No way she could.
Because the Shipyard Brewery that makes Pumpkinhead Ale is in Portland, just a few blocks away from the "old Port" section of town, it's available in many pubs and, Portland my friends, is the land of pubs. The more my wife and I visit the town, the more we enjoy it.
I had the Shipyard Pumpkin Ale with steak the first night and broiled scallops the second. Because the taste is light, sweetish, and has a distinct but not overpowering aroma and taste, I found it refreshing with both meals. Though this is a seasonal beer, I could see it as a refreshing summer drink too. It's not one that I would prefer in the middle of winter. This fall release wheat ale is noted to have a 4.50% alcohol content.
Pumpkinhead Out of the Bottle
We purchased a couple of 12 packs at a local Portland supermarket to take home. It was on sale, $10 for a 12 pack. The bottles have an evil-looking pumpkinhead character on horseback on the label. I don't know where this character is from. Maybe someone can enlighten me. It's not the pumpkinhead from the original Wizard of OZ series and he isn't the same guy from the "Fright" Pumpkinhead films either.
The bottles have a "Best Enjoyed" with months and dates notched on side of bottle The bottles we purchased state, "Best Enjoyed before February '07". I don't believe any of the bottles will live that long because my wife and I feel October a good time to enjoy this brew.
In any case I popped off the cap and poured some in a glass. The white head does dissipate quickly leaving little lace. The aroma of the cinnamon came through first. It's quite pronounced. When tasting the ale I first pick up the cinnamon and then traces of nutmeg, almost like a vanilla with it's smoothish feel. It had the same mouth feel as the draught we had in town. It was light with little body but strong in "sugar and spice and everything nice". It was quite refreshing. I was happy. I like the stuff...a lot. I recently had some right out of the bottle. It's no way to drink this stuff. The aroma and flavour we not nearly as prevelent though I did pick up a taste of clove at the finish. I say pour it into a glass as you watch the Mets win another game as I did last evening.
At Home, All Dressed Up In Lace
Once home my wife did present me with a cinnamon laced glass with the Shipyard Pumpkinhead ale in it. The taste of the rim was sweet and spicy. It did nothing for the brew though. I lost the taste because of this "coverup" and it was like I drinking a Coors lite. I think maybe my wife has been preparing too many Margaritas with salt and just likes trimming any glass for any drink with something.
"Hey Honey! Don't be putting on any lace for me tonight." Mmm, maybe that was the wrong thing to say?
Shipyard Brewing Company
Shipyard Export Ale
Portland, the home to many brewpubs