Monday, October 31, 2011

Beer Review: Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

Shipyard Pumpkinhead
An eerie familiarity and sense mystery seems to overtake this particular beer.  It is familiar yet different, sweet but spicy, bold and fruity yet strangely crisp.  In truth, this beer reminded more of a hard apple cider than true ale.  But this minor flaw should not detract from the enjoyable and refreshingly unique perspective provided by the folks at Shipyard.  So go ahead and try a bottle, what’s Halloween without a little obscurity and adventure right?

Origin: Shipyard Brewing Co., Maine, USA

Style: Spice/ Vegetable Beer

Color: Mid to light amber coloration, with a noticeable lack of fine sediment and a crystal clear body that is unusual for “pumpkin beers.” 

Aroma: The bouquet opens with a big, sweet note of fruit.  Though unlike most ales, this aroma shies away from the typical apple/ apricot/ plum smells, and instead embraces a markedly more vegetal characteristic.  The fragrance quickly transitioned to a richer hay/ grassy smell, before finishing with a very strong note of spice supported by a light bourbon-vanilla quality.

Taste: The flavor profile for this beer opens with a mid-strength taste of fruit (not quite entirely unlike pumpkin).  This quickly yields to a pleasant and cleansing spiciness (cinnamon) which fades to reveal a secondary layer of spices (cardamom or cloves perhaps?).  The finishing flavor is the faintest twinge of citrus.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is crisp and pleasantly dry without being overly astringent.  Flavor dissipates quickly and does not linger. 

Recommendation: A different interpretation of the American pumpkin beer, I found it to be enjoyable and pleasant.  I will say that it seemed to favor a pumpkin style lager rather than any pumpkin ale I have encountered previously.  Its low ABV also means that you can drink several at the clich√© Halloween party and still be capable of driving home without hitting any trick-or-treaters. 

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