13 Days of Pumpkin Beer – Day 8: Upslope’s Pumpkin Ale

Guest blog post by Alia Broman

#8 – October 8, 2013: Pumpkin Ale by Upslope (Boulder, CO)


Even though Boulder parents don’t vaccinate their children, leading to this past year’s pertussis epidemic, I do appreciate the beers produced by those hippy-dippy Sierra Club yuppies.

Color: bronze-gold, not much head when poured from the can into a glass (as beer should be)

Year of conception: Since 2011 (won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival)

ABV: 7.7%

Cost: $15.99 + tax for a 4-pack of 16oz cans

Availability: some liquor stores great and small (probably not outside CO)

Description by Upslope Brewing Co : Adding Baby Bear pumpkins from Boulder-based Munson Farms to malt and hops makes this a truly local farm to brewhouse collaboration. A custom blend of six spices rounds out the flavors in this highly anticipated limited release fall ale.”

Case in point: Upslope’s Pumpkin Ale.  While not the most creative of names, this beer truly has it all.  A mixture of subtle, unnamed spices (cannabis, perhaps) plus organic pumpkins with an adorable name (Baby Bear!) make this beer irresistible.  A rich, malty flavor leaves you satisfied, without feeling like you just ate an entire bag of mini-Butterfingers.  The honeyed aftertaste glosses over the palate and lands delicately in your stomach.  Deliciously rich, this ale makes me want to spread peace, love, and pumpkin beer. 

Pie Pieces: 4 – Jack-o-Lantern

13 Days of Pumpkin Beer: Day 7 – Uinta’s Punk’n

Guest blog post by Alia Broman

#7 – Oct 7, 2013: Punk’n by Uinta Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City, UT)

Uinta’s motto is Earth, Wind, and Beer. And to make it extra special, Punk’n is part of their organic line, which means it contains 3% organic  ingredients!

Uinta-PunknYear of conception: since 2010 (won a silver medal in the World Beer Championships!)

Color: coppery-orange, with a decent amount of head

ABV: 4%

Cost: $9.99 + tax for a mixed 6-pack of 12oz bottles

Availability: all liquor stores great and small

Description by Uinta Brewing Co : Malt and hops accented with roasted pumpkin and spices of the season. A subtle hint of vanilla and honey. Punk’n is a wonderful compliment to foods with nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove flavors. Try it with roasted turkey, squash or pumpkin ravioli, peach cobbler, or pumpkin cheesecake!”

My new motto is: Earth. Wind. Beer. And PUMPKINS (specifically pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin cheesecake)!  Unfortunately, I did not have any of those tasty treats to pair with this ale, but I found that this beer performed flawlessly on its own.  While most pumpkin beers I have tried have seemed bathed in spices, Uinta’s Punk’n is a much subtler, slicker beer.  The vanilla and honey give this ale a tasty, silky finish, without leaving your tongue feeling sticky.  Low on the ABV and light on the spices, Uinta did an amazing job putting the pumpkin first when brewing their homage to the esteemed autumn gourd.

Pie Pieces: 4 – Jack-o-Lantern

13 Days of Pumpkin Beer: Days 5 & 6 – McAuslan’s St. Ambroise Citrouille & Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin

Guest blog post by Alia Broman

#5 – Oct 5, 2013: St. Ambroise Citrouille (Pumpkin) Ale by McAuslan Brewing (Montreal, Canada)

Voulez-vous une biere a la citrouille? Mai ouis!

Year of conception: 2011 (won a Canadian gold medal)

Color: dark red when held up to the light, purple-tinted bubbles rising to the top

ABV: 5.0%

Cost: $8.99 on sale (reg. 9.95) + tax for 6-pack of 11.5oz bottles

Availability: upscale, specialty liquor stores

Description by McCauslan Brewing: “Each year as the leaves fall and the north wind blows, St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale make its return – a magical potion that casts a potent spell with its well-crafted blend of blond and caramelized malts, gentle hop, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and pumpkin. Its delicate malty character and hint of sweetness will quench any creature looking for easy-drinking refreshment.”

Buying a Canadian pumpkin brew may seem a bit “fou” (crazy) to some, but when faced with a beer I’ve never before seen, out comes my wallet!  This beer has amazing autumn colors, and transforms the entire pint glass into a magical lava lamp.  Faint nutmeg and cinnamon greet the nostrils when placed directly above the brew, but the spices really come to life when they cascade over the tongue.  This ale has a bite that quickly disappears, leaving your tastebuds searching for more.  Alas, while this beer is much more “curiuex” (curious) than I had anticipated, the description by McCauslan holds true, that this is a very easy-drinking refreshment, and not something that hits you in the face and says “CITROUILLE” (PUMPKIN)!

Pie Pieces: 2 – Green

#6 – Oct 6, 2013: Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard Brewing Co. (Portland, ME)

So far the most disappointing pumpkin beer I have reviewed was Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale. Unfortunately, the next most disappointing beer I have tasted is Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin.

Year of conception: 2009

Color: Denver Broncos burnt orange!

ABV: 9.0%

Cost: $10.99 for a bomber (22oz)

Availability: I bought mine from a liquor store employee in an upscale establishment who had kept it in the back refrigerator for himself.  I’ve since discovered it in our local liquor store adjacent to Denver’s up-and-coming Five Points area (supply>>demand).

Description by Shipyard Brewing Co: “Smashed Pumpkin is a big-bodied beer with a light coppery orange color and pleasing aromas of pumpkin and nutmeg.  The Pale Ale, Wheat, and Light Munich malts combine with the natural tannin in pumpkin and the delicate spiciness of hops to balance the sweetness of fruit.”

The reason why this beer is so disappointing is that its hype far outweighs its greatness/pumpkiness.  As far as I can tell, Shipyard simply took their Pumpkinhead ale, added some malt, toned down the red-hot flavor, and tied up the whole thing with a shiny wrapper.  That being said, the nutmeg overtones are much more effervescent than the Pumpkinhead, and the sharp, “fire-y” kick doesn’t completely overwhelm the senses.  This beer has a much more mature and palatable body, thanks in large part to the combination of malts.  While the Pumpkinhead Ale has grown from an ugly duckling into, err, a somewhat less ugly adult mallard in the Smashed Pumpkin, I’m still yearning for a pumpkin beer that relies more on pumpkin and less on pumpkin “overtones.”

Pie Pieces: 3 – Orange, for taste; 2 – Green, for price/availability/hype

13 Days of Pumpkin Beer: Day 4 – Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager

Guest blog post by Alia Broman

#4 – Oct 4, 2013: Pumpkin Lager by Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)

Quiz time!  What is one of the only pumpkin beers that is a LAGER rather than an ALE? Answer: Lakefront’s Pumpkin!

Year of conception: at least since 1997 (it apparently won a tasting merit award)

Color: cloudy, golden orange

ABV: 6.0%

Cost: $9.49 + tax for 6-pack of 12oz bottles

Availability: all liquor stores great and small

Description by Lakefront Brewery: “Using real pumpkin and a proprietary blend of spices … our brewers’ lager this beer for 4 full weeks… A frothy entry leads to an off-dry medium-to-full body of intense cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and candied yam flavor on a nutty wheat toast palate. Finishes with a drier spice and light toffee fade. Caramel and Munich malts reinforce this beer’s mouthfeel and lend to the malty sweetness.”

A pleasant aroma of Midwest spices greets your nostrils as your mouth enjoys the full, rich taste of this Fall lager. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavors are quite prevalent, but not overwhelming. Drinking this beer is quite refreshing, and I agree that there is a light delightful toffee aftertaste. Definitively sweet, this beer is enjoyable but would not necessarily be paired with Monday Night Football. Although it does not fulfill my search for the “perfect” pumpkin beer, I wouldn’t hesitate to imbibe it again.

Pie Pieces: 3 – Orange

13 Days of Pumpkin Beer: Day 3 – Shipyard Brewing’s Pumpkinhead Ale

Guest blog post by Alia Broman

#3 – Oct 3, 2013: Pumpkinhead Ale by Shipyard Brewing Company (Portland, ME)

Whether from glass bottles, aluminum cans, or decorative gourds mother truckers, I have YET to meet a pumpkin beer that I couldn’t WAIT to try!

shipyard pumpkinhead

Year of conception: 2002

Color: cloudy, golden tan

ABV: 4.7%

Cost: $9.99 + tax for 6-pack of 12oz bottles

Availability: all liquor stores great and small

Description by Shipyard Brewing Co: A crisp and refreshing wheat ale with hints of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg aromas and flavors.

Sadly, that sentiment was taken to a spooky grave today by Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale.  While I couldn’t enjoy the aromatics of the Pumpkinhead Ale either from lack of, or seasonal nasal congestion, the spices will certainly clear out your sinuses.  The combination of cinnamon and nutmeg leaves this beer tasting more like a fiery red-hot than warm, sensual pumpkin pie.  And maybe it’s just because “pumpkinhead” is what I used to call my backyard neighbor growing up.  You know, the awkward boy who instead of turning into a swan turns into the co-star of your failed (initially romantic later discovered to be) homosexual male relationships?  Anyway, the point is that this beer is in its awkward tween years and it needs to stop trying so hard to be something it is not, i.e. a PUMPKIN beer.

Pie Pieces: 1 – Rotten