Friday, October 24, 2014

Smuttynose Pumpkin (3/10)

The Smuttynose Brewing Company of Portsmouth (New Hampshire) produces this Pumpkin Ale.  I like their Star Island Single, so I was curious to see what they’d do with a pumpkin ale.

According to the brewery’s web site, they use a straight-up ale recipe with pumpkin in the mash, along with “traditional spices” (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) to produce it.  Cascade hops are used to bitter it, and both Cascade and Liberty hops are used in the “flavoring”.  That’s quite a bit of hops for a pumpkin ale.

When poured, it’s a cloudy, orangey color with a thick white head on it.

The first thing I got from the aroma was hops.  It’s probably 80% of what I smell here.  Behind that are some pumpkin and spice.  But it takes a few sniffs to get to those. 

The flavor follows the nose on this one.  At 35 IBUs, it’s not as bitter as a Rogue Dead Guy (which is in that range) but it’s not far behind it.  That’s just too high for a pumpkin ale to me.  The hops in this beer acted as a giant club that beat the other flavor elements so far into submission as to be virtually undetectable.  I can tell from the body and some hints of the flavor that there is pumpkin in it.  After several sips, as my hops tolerance increased, I got some barely visible hints of spice.  But make no mistake, this is a very hop-forward pumpkin ale.  If you're an IPA fan, this may be your pumpkin beer.

It’s that over-hopped nature that kills this beer’s rating for me.  The Beer Advocate crowd disagrees with me.  The Bros give it 93/100 or “outstanding” and the 1300+ other reviewers rate it only 83 or “good”.  I can’t be that kind.  I’m giving it a 3/10, which essentially means I’d rather drink a macro brew.  (At 1-2, I tend to pour it out rather than subject myself to drinking it.)

You can find this, while it’s in season, at a number of area retailers.  I picked up this particular bottle at Kenny Road Market, but I’ve seen it elsewhere.

Pumpkin Beer Flavor Profile:
Dominant Flavor (Beer, Spices, Pumpkin):  Hops
Pumpkin intensity:  Low
Spice intensity:  Low
Malty or hoppy:  Hoppy
Sweet, balanced, or dry:  Balanced
Dominant flavors:  Hops, and once you get past that, some malt and pumpkin
ABV:  5.8%
IBU:  35
My Rating: 3/10

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