If you happen to be in Columbus, or if you’re willing to travel for some tasty beer, take a quick read of my guest review of North High Brewing’s Imperial IPA series, featured at Drink Up Columbus. Hint: they brew liquid deliciousness.
Happy Halloween my friends! We’ve reached the end of our terrifying journey. Over these past two weeks, we’ve suffered goblin attacks, child-eating witches, tasty pumpkin beers, and even a werewolf. And though our Halloween fun has arrived at its final destination, there’s really only one to go out – Daily Beard Style. What does that mean? Nothing less than the end of the world. Literally, tonight’s beer is Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde, French for “the end of the world”. If you recall, Unibroue also started us off with the Devil’s Flying Canoe, also known as Maudite. Who doesn’t love a story that comes full circle? Now, I know you’re all ready for some costumed debauchery and candy thieving, but come along with me one last time this Halloween season as we face the end in the most awesome way possibly – drinking a beer.
Freed from its corked in prison, the aroma starts us off with hints of apple, bubblegum and straw, exploding into a base of full, sweet, bready malts like a cataclysmic ingredient meteor crashing into a city made entirely of malts (what an awesome mental image). Notes of black licorice, plums and cherries arrive next, complimenting the apple and bread malt sweetness, and adding even more layered complexity to the mix. After time, the aroma subdues a bit, like the calm before a non George Clooney perfect storm. Each breath ends with a lingering apple freshness that leaves your mouth watering even though you know the end is nigh.
The first flavors are just as huge. A delicious cacophony of spicy malts and sweet fruits burst against the tongue. Cherry, apple, and grape notes flow down a river of lemon juice, bringing a tart sweetness that supports from the bottom of each taste. Hints of nutmeg and a faint dash of allspice create a bubblegum bloom of spice that drapes across the malts. It’s basically like a grown up version of LEGOs, except instead of using those little bricks that kill your feet when you step on them, it’s different beer flavors, and you build by drinking. Ok, nothing at all like LEGOs. The malts themselves are sweet and bready, staying super fresh and bright despite a huge, mouth filling flavor. The back end consists of spiced bananas and a few apple peels scattered amongst even more malts. There’s a sweet alcoholic wave under everything, masked and barely noticeable for the most part, allowing only a wonderful warmth to shine through. It rolls crisp and bubbly over the tongue, finishing with a tangy smoothness the clings to every inch of the mouth. The aftertaste is a big base of bread malts, layered with apples and spices that stretches out the drinking process long enough to see the last dying ember of the world, bravely flickering on in the face of nothingness.
Poured out into a snifter, a big bloom of spicy malts and lemon juices starts almost immediately. Apple peel shows up next, bringing in some fresh sweetness. Straw and bubblegum return as well, contributing hints of earth and spice as the complexity continues to skyrocket. There is so much going on within this beer, and every ingredient is not only working at full capacity, but doing so in absolute perfection. It’s a super fresh, bright and spicy bouquet that screams “drink me!” before force gripping your face and demanding you comply. Visually, it pours a hazy, glowing pumpkin, with an initially fluffy white head that bubbles away within a few minutes.
The post-pour taste begins with big bread malts, forming a perfect backbone that supports the same spices from before, now steeped in apple peels and lemon juice. Plums and cherries dive in next, lending some tart fruity sweetness to the mild earth of the malts and apples. The back end is once again rich in bananas and spices, with a healthy serving of apple sauce for good measure. It begins crisp and bubbly before it condenses into a rich finale, clinging for dear life and hugging the tongue as malts, spices, apples and bananas. Another added bonus is its slow building strength. Like a tsunami born from the deepest ocean trench, it seem a calm and gentle beer until its alcoholic potency suddenly envelopes you. It’s almost masked too well, sneaking up as a growing warmth and slow mouth tingle. Needless to say, go slow with this. You wouldn’t want to rush the end of the world, so take your time, enjoy, and stretch out each of the billion different flavors to their absolute limit.
This is basically perfection in a bottle. It somehow manages to balance huge, eternally lasting flavors with controlled taste and wonderful cohesion from drink to drink. Nothing overpowers or hides itself away, creating a robust, mouth dominating flavor bomb. The aroma is just as full, like a cloud of sky darkening potency every time your nose enters a 12 mile radius of this beer. Bread malts, lemon juice, apples, cherries, plums, grapes, and bubblegum spices are just some of the flavors you’ll find within. That’s right – be prepared for each taste to show up a bit different from the one before. Additionally, with its crisp, bubbly beginning and its smooth, rich end, each drink will be undoubtedly refreshing and drinkable. Consider yourself warned – the huge 9% ABV is almost completely masked from start to finish, and you wont realize the monster that lurks beneath until your tongue begins to fall asleep. Go for the big bottle version and take your time with it. Sure, it’ll set you back $8 or $9, but what’s money really worth after the world has ended?
My recommendations for drinking this are whenever and wherever you’d like. It’s refreshing for the summer, and it’ll keep you warm in the winter. My horror genre? Apocalyptic/ post apocalyptic/ whatever sounds awesome after you’ve gotten through half a bottle. It’s the end of the world, go out with a bang. Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde earns The Daily Beard’s first 10/10 A+. Happy Halloween everyone! Have fun, be safe, and stop back tomorrow for more tasty, presumably non Halloween related fun.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 10/10 A+
Happy Humpday, my friends. Welcome to night 12 of the 13 Beers of Halloween. I’m sure many of you are busy taking care of the finishing touches for your costumes, hoarding candy, and stockpiling plenty of eggs to throw at the neighbor kids, but I’m here to provide you with a moment of tasty relaxation, with a dose of seasonal spookiness for good measure. Tonight, I’m dialing things back just a bit with another cider. And not only that, it’s the second Goblin on our list. Green Goblin Oak Aged Cider, in fact, from Thatcher’s Brewery. I don’t know anything about it, other than its awesome label, but sweet labels haven’t led me astray for the past 10 nights, so I’m feeling pretty good about it. The only hesitation I have is…what if this goblin is in cahoots with the Goblin King? What if they’re…brothers? (flash of lightning, dramatic thunder).
The initial aroma is an earthy bloom of apple peels, straw, and fall leaves. There’s a gentle, underlying sweetness that stays somewhat distant, promoting the hearty, aged characteristics of the cider, rather than ending up with a juicy sweetness. There’s not a lot of complexity to the aroma, but when the only ingredient is “100% fermented apple cider”, there shouldn’t be too much going on besides apples. The simplicity is almost poetic. Hey, speaking of poetic…
One night I wandered all alone
the length of a dark hall.
And realized that I stared upon
a figure in the wall.
I gazed upon its weathered face
the features worn from time.
And found within its dull black eyes
a door inside its mind.
A startled gasp, a hurried pulse
enraptured by its gaze.
A creature long thought to be dead
who stalked forgotten days.
The bottle flavors of this cider are super gentle, offering small hints rather than pushing potent apple into your mouth. It tastes more like an apple juice than an apple cider, but make no mistake; it’s a wonderfully refreshing and drinkable cider. The main flavor, of course, is fresh apple, with a medium, natural sweetness that retains a crisp earthiness. Hints of straw and autumn leaves mingle in from the sides, offering hints of dry earth, but without imparting an odd, unpleasant flavor. These few notes create a tasty combination of mild, earthy sweetness and crisp, fall apples.
The shadows danced around my sight
cast out by light of lamp.
And in that darkness witnessed I
ill movement from the scamp.
A winking eye, a curling claw
loose from his jail of stone.
And then before my eyes I saw
a sight that chilled my bones.
Poured, the aroma is even more dispersed than the bottle aroma. There’s still a definitive apple tang, but it’s much gentler this time around. There’s also still a noticeable earthiness atop the sweet notes, brought about by hints of straw and leaves. Visually, it pours a clear, cidery brown, wreathed in a curtain of bubbles, under a thin, super bubbly head.
“With your own eyes, you see me here.”
the once dead statue hissed.
“Then you must know to catch my gaze
will end with you quite missed.”
My mind screamed flee, yet still I stood
a statue of my own.
And helpless I did watch his hands
reach out with claws of stone.
“Your soul is mine, forever more
alone in this dark tomb.
And now I’ll have my freedom while
you rot here in this gloom.”
The poured taste is pretty much the same as the bottle. Mildly sweet apple peels make up the major flavor, while straw and leaves add a crisp earthiness. However, there is a warmth brought about by a nice, slight potent alcohol kick that bumps the sweetness up just a bit. The alcohol, and the moderate carbonation, fizz the flavors from the tongue fairly quickly, leaving the aftertaste as a distant apple essence. On the tongue, it’s crisp and bubbly, yet wonderfully refreshing and drinkable.
Allowed to only stand and stare,
his hands clawed at my face.
With no success I struggled fast
as he obtained my place.
My life I kept, he blessed me thus
I curse him every day
For trapping me within this stone
until his toll I pay.
Alone I wait for distant dawn
as I suffer this sin,
For glancing at that dirty scamp-
a darkness born Goblin.
This cider was surprisingly tasty, despite offering a more than mild flavor profile. The earthy apples promote a naturally sweet taste, without creating any unpleasant flavors. There are also hints of straw and autumn leaves that add some earthy crispness to the profile, providing a rustic cider flavor. There’s a faint alcoholic potency once poured, but in way that adds a warm kick without imparting a distracting flavor. Because of this, and a decent amount of carbonation, it rolls dry across the tongue, fizzing away fairly quickly. The aftertaste is just as fast, with a faint appleness that ends soon after you’ve stopped drinking. It about the same price as any other hard cider, which is a bit higher than any run of the mill macro beer, so if you’re looking for a mild cider without a super clingy feel, this would be well worth the price.
My recommendations for this cider start when you see the first hints of orange and yellow in the leaves, and ends when you have to break out the snow shovel. It sings of crisp autumn and lends itself quite well to chill fall nights. My horror genre is anything focusing on some kind of devious trickster, preferably with some kind of comedic element to it. Something like Trick ‘r Treat. Thatcher’s Green Goblin oak aged apple cider earns itself a devious A-.
Lasting Strength: 8/10
Overall: 9/10 A-
Welcome, one and all, to night 11 of the 13 Beers of Halloween. We’re in the home stretch now, with just a few beers left, but before we arrive at our thrilling conclusion, we need to overcome tonight’s offering-Duvel, a Belgian golden pale ale whose name literally means Devil. I’ve heard a ton of great things about his beer, but I’ve never tried it…until now! (dramatic music). Will we make it through tonight with our souls intact? Will this devil allow us passage, or will he simply set his hell beasts after us? Let’s find out, shall we?
Popping the cork reveals a big, pilsner-ish scent layered atop sweet cherries, oranges, and honey. Bready malts make up a wonderful base, supporting the aromas perfectly. It’s a super crisp, fresh aroma that bursts against the nose with tantalizing mellowness. Letting it sit for a few moments brings out a deeper richness, consisting of roasted and smoky qualities that stop before overwhelming the sweeter notes. As an added bonus, it finishes with a slightly floral, mildly citrusy hop bite that offers only the slightest impact on the aroma. I can already tell this beer is more than just any other brew. Just like a story I was told, long ago…
Once upon a time, there lived a devil. Not the Devil, mind you. Just an average, ordinary, run of the mill devil. He had a wife, a son, a dog, a job, a mortgage, and doctors appointments that he never managed to cancel before the fee was charged. Sure, they were all devils too, and they were technically “evil”, but beyond that, this devil was, as they say, boring.
This particular devil’s name was Hank Devilowski. He came from a long line of Devilowskis, a proud family who could boast such members as Barbara Devilowski, the first female city council president of Devilsburg. And Thomas Devilowski, founder of TD Metalworks, a maker of high quality, evil industrial equipment. There was also Geraldo Devilowski, who was executed for throwing a lawn gnome at the Bride of Satan. The family never talked about Geraldo. Just as they never talked about Hank, until a remarkably average day, when Hank’s life changed forever.
What? You thought this story would be another “horror” tale, with monsters and violence and despair? Oh no, my bag of tricks has no bottom. Anyway, the initial taste of this beer is much like Wychwood’s Wychcraft. Sweet and malty, with a pilsner-like undertone. The major difference with this beer is that it’s almost twice as potent, and makes sure you can taste that increased strength. Big malt flavors arrive at the tongue first, bringing slightly sweet notes of plums and cherries. A golden tang of hops shows up just after the fruit, donating a slight bitterness that fades fairly quickly to allow the malts continued dominance. Underneath everything is a smooth yet potent wave of alcohol, highlighting the warm notes of the beer without leaving an unpleasant alcohol bite. There’s an overlying sweetness that runs through each taste, generated from the bread malts and the fruits, but also enhanced by subtle honey notes. It flows full and smooth over the tongue, staying rich despite the alcohol, and lingering for an eternity as sweet, bready malts.
Hank’s day began as any other day had. He woke up at dawn, readied himself for work (he was the regional vice president of Devillards, an evil department store), kissed his wife goodbye, and left in his 1995 Ford Escort station wagon (Devillards does not pay well). On his way to work, he hit a pothole, which caused him to spill his coffee across his lap and down his legs, burning his toes. Howling with pain, Hank tried, unsuccessfully, to remove his shoes while driving 45 miles per hour down a winding mountain road. As you might believe, such actions are not generally beneficial to life, devil or otherwise, and Hank soon found himself plummeting down the side of the mountain, screaming from both fear and the lingering tingle in his toes.
To Hank, it appeared as if the end had arrived. Too soon was he to be snatched from his mortal coil, to be delivered to that great Hell in the sky. It was during these lamentations when the most remarkable thing happened. As the windshield of his Ford Escort began to crack from reaching terminal velocity, a burst of swirling color appeared in front of him, setting the inside of Hank’s car alight with a thousand dancing colors. Dazed and terrified, Hank could only scream as he, his car, and his burnt toes vanished into the colorful cloud. But, no one would ever have guessed what would happen next.
Poor Hank. Anyway, poured into a snifter, a floral pilsner bloom fills the nose, riding on a wave of bready malts. A mild smokiness accompanies the malts, but they only add a subtle essence to the overall aroma. The bouquet is just like the bottle, except the notes have been opened up a bit more, allowing for a deeper initial aroma that disperses a bit quicker. Visually, it pours a beautiful, clear gold under a huge, frothy white head that lasts forever.
When Hank awoke several hours later, he was surprised to find himself not only alive, but relatively unharmed, save for his tender and coffee stained toes. However, from just one look outside his shattered windows, Hank knew that he had arrived at a place worse than death. Worse than the everlasting torment of butterfly kisses, and ice cream parties, and casual Fridays. Hank had only heard stories of his current surroundings – haunting tales told by elder devils to scare the children. He had never believed such tales, until he witnessed such desolation with his own eyes. He had somehow ended up in a place of magic, and laughter, and…human children. Specifically, Hank had landed in the ball pit of a Chuck E Cheese.
With an anguished cry, he beat his fists against his chest, wailing in hopeless agony until an anthropomorphic mouse and three uniformed humans pulled him from his car and locked him in a broom closet until the authorities arrived. Broken in spirit, lost and cut off from the life he once held so dear, Hank did what any devil would do when faced with such insurmountable tribulations. He took off his shirt, wrapped it around his head in a makeshift bonnet, and cried.
It is at this point in our tale that I must state this warning: any devils with weak dispositions should read no farther! For the plight of Hank Devilowski has merely scratched the surface of its horrible truth!
Yeah, at this point, your guess is as good as mind. I’m pretty sure the story has a mind of its own. But, let’s get back to business, shall we? The poured taste is a combination of bread and roasted malts, creating a rich, full bodied flavor. Mild hints of plums and cherries work in from the sides. A streak of sweetness still swirls through each taste, but it isn’t as concentrated as it was in the bottle, instead providing a more earthy quality once the beer has been poured. The alcohol edge is considerably stronger, making itself known sooner and as a more intense addition, but still refraining from creating an overpowering bite. The tastes end with a mild hoppy bitterness at the back of the mouth, but like the bottle, it doesn’t linger, and gives way to the mouth filling maltiness. Over the tongue, it’s a bit crisper than from the bottle, but it finishes with a smooth creaminess that coats every inch of the mouth. Its aftertaste is a mildly fruity layer of bready malts that remains rich well after you’ve finished drinking.
After the initial realization of his fate, Hank lost hope. In life, in returning home, in seeing his family again. He merely sat, alone in his cold, grey room at the “country jail” for three days, until a stranger appeared at the bars of his door. It was a tall, thin individual, with small feet and long, pale fingers that looked as if they had been broken several times. The stranger wore a hood, preventing Hank from ever seeing a face. However, when the stranger spoke, the voice was deep and rumbling, with a singsong quality that reminded him of his mother. The voice had informed Hank that his arrival in this place had been foretold, and that it was the stranger’s duty to return Hank to his proper home. Suppressing a sob, Hank listened as the stranger told of the horrors and atrocities that lurked around every corner. But there was a path to redemption-a means by which Hank could find the entrance back into his world. On the 11th day, of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, Hank would need to recite a magical incantation while performing the ritual dance of Tep, the mating dance by which young, male devils acquired mates. The incantation, the stranger went on to say, was a series of powerful words: “Did’thep fwaa’ng yomanim bur’th gront duballa budalla”, followed by a repeated slapping of the forehead. This would open up a portal through which Hank would travel back to his world. Without another word, the Stranger disappeared, but not before posting Hank’s bail.
In the end, this is a big flavored, hugely refreshing ale that combines tasty bread malts, fresh fruits, honey and a generous helping of alcohol to create a full bodied, yet wonderfully drinkable beer. Bread malts and fruit sweetness proved the base upon which a slight hoppy crispness and fleeting hints of smoke mingle. Like Wychcraft, it has an unmistakable essence of a pilsner about it, but it goes far beyond, pulling you into the heart and soul of deliciousness. Despite the mouth filling flavors and alcoholic kick, it rolls super smooth and rich over the tongue, lingering as a fruited bread maltiness for quite a while. As always the price is a little steep at $8.50 for a pint and a half. But its wonderful flavor and superbly refreshing drinkability will make you turn the other way when buying an extra bottle or four.
The time had arrived-the 1th day, of the 11th month, at the 11th hour – when Hank found himself atop a secluded hill, twirling and kicking his feet in one of the finest Tep dances ever danced. Around him, the wind began to swirl, a rolling vortex of color that surrounded the dancing devil. As the colors began to mix, Hank knew what he had to do, and began the incantation.
“Did’thep fwaa’ng yomanim!” He cried out into the wind. “Bur’th gront!” The wind swirled faster, cracks of red and blue lightning leaping above him.
“Duballa…budalla!” Uttering the final words, he began to slap his forehead, sweat trickling down his nose.
Thwap, thwap, thwap. He smacked his palm against his head, watching in growing, blissful amazement as a small opening in reality itself began to form in front of him.
Thwap, thwap, thwap. The window grew, allowing Hank a glimpse of the mountain road that had started this entire ordeal.
Thwap, thwap, thwap. Wider and wider the window opened, solidifying along the edges. Unbeknownst to Hank, an animal called a squirrel had somehow made it past the swirling cone of wind, and had proceeded to climb up his leg. In the midst of his gleeful head slapping, he didn’t realize the presence of the intruder until he felt sharp, tiny rodent teeth bite down into his shin.
Thwap, thwap, thw-aaiiiee! Hank tumbled forward, tripping through the window which now showed a strange, alien landscape of green field, blue skies, and black and white, four legged beasts. Devil and squirrel fell through the rift, tumbling into a dimension unknown even to the wisest of Devil scholars. It is only though a mysterious, ancient text that we know of Hank’s story. For it was prophesized that one of us would leave these lands, and face the most trying of ordeals. And then, when the hour of our demise was upon us, he would return as our salvation. It is because of this that we pray to you now, Almighty Hank Rodentshin. Return in your majestic glory, and save us wretched souls. For the end is most certainly nigh…A McDonalds was just built in the center of town, and I have heard tales of a Bennigans, coming soon! Please, O’ great and powerful Hank, save your flock and drive these heathens from our lands! Let us pray.
There we have it, folks! Good ol’ Hank. Anyway, my recommendations for this beer are fall afternoons and summer evenings. A little warmth for the former and an easy-going dose of tasty refreshment for the latter. My horror genre is, of course, something to do with devils, but I’m leaving it pretty vague. Not every devil story needs to be evil, apparently, as Hank Devilowski has shown us. Who knows, maybe Hank will one day end up on the big screen (or a made for TV movie featuring Scott Bakula). Duvel earns itself a Hank approved A.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.5/10 A
That’s right! Starting November 1st, I and about a billion other writers will go buck wild as we write, type, scribble, and etch out novels! The goal is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month. So, during November, I’m going to set aside Jade (don’t worry, it’s just for a month) and come up with something new, fresh, and possibly flat-out crazy. I don’t know what I’m going to write about yet, but I’ve already got a few ideas bouncing around in my head. I’m not allowed to start until November 1st, but once the gates open, I’ll keep everyone posted on my progress.
If you’d like to check out former NaNoWriMo novels, and keep up with this years progress, you can do so at the National Novel Writing Month website. So, check back this Friday for speed novel awesomeness, courtesy of your jolly bearded hooligan!
It’s Monday, and normally that would be no reason to celebrate at all. But, this particular Monday is night ten of The Daily Beard’s 13 Beers of Halloween, and that’s more than enough reason to party! (Or have a beer, at least). Now, what beer has the pleasure of carrying us through the Monday doldrums as well as keeping this beer train rolling? It’s Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin, a massive bottle of 8.5% ABV pumpkin ale, with one of the most fun names to say in all of beerdom. Go ahead, say it out loud. This will be my first time sampling, but I’m a big fan of Sam Adams beer, and their crusade to spread the micro love and awareness to the masses, so I’m pretty excited to get started. With that out of the way, everyone needs to drop everything, settle in, grab a bottle of your favorite brew (if you pretend we’re drinking together, it’s like I’m breaking the 4th wall!) and let’s indulge in Pumpkin Ale (Founding Father Remix).
The initial aroma is a big bouquet of bread malts, fresh pumpkin, and fall spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), with a subtle hint of alcohol at the very bottom. It’s actually a fairly subdued aroma, offering up small glimpses of what’s to come while keeping an overall air of mystery over the entire thing. Letting it sit a bit reveals a layer of brown sugar that provides a sweet and slightly earthy glaze that flows over the entire aroma. I can sense that there’s more to this beer, but the only way to find out is to drink. What a great idea!
The first bottle taste is a slightly smoky malt bloom, laced with fresh, floral pumpkin, pumpkin spices, a faint hoppy bite, and a slight alcoholic edge. This is another harvest pumpkin offering, focusing on the earthy aspects of the gourd, rather than the sweet, buttery highlights of a pumpkin pie. Unlike the Weyerbacher Pumpkin that I sampled earlier, the flavors remain controlled and moderated from start to finish, while still providing big, potent flavors. Also unlike Weyerbacher’s offering, the alcoholic presence lends itself to the heavy, full bodied warmth that this beer creates across the tongue. No flavor overpowers, which allows you to differentiate one flavor from another, and mark exactly when the hops enter and fade, when the sugars rise up a bit, and when the spices boost the pumpkin, and that’s just lovely. It rolls over the tongue rich and super smooth, not quite as thick as a stout, but definitely more substantial than other ales. Despite that heaviness, there aren’t any overly biting notes that pull you out of the warm pumpkin comfort. Awesome.
Poured into a pint glass, the aroma is even more mysterious than it was in the bottle. There’s a slight, faintly spiced florality, but that’s it. No other scents make an appearance. Letting it sit a bit doesn’t change the results, with only mild floral hints rising out of the glass, hiding the tasty festiveness that I know to lurk beneath. Visually, it pours a rich, burnt amber that glows a beautiful ruby-orange in the light. It has a thick, clingy tan head that takes a while to disperse.
I had my suspicions that the super mild aroma was an indicator of a big, potent flavor. I was right. Pouring it boosts the flavors not quite to 11, but they’re considerably more robust than from the bottle (Beer likes to be free. Think of a bottle as that heavy duty cage that transported the raptors to Isla Sorna in Jurassic Park). Big malt notes make up the backbone, while strong yet pleasant pumpkin and spice notes work their magic from the top. That smokiness from earlier is still present, adding an earthy darkness to the mix that goes great with the malt and pumpkin. Additionally, brown sugar swirls throughout each taste, providing a constant hint of sweetness that manages to keep each flavor in their place, without turning the beer into liquid pie. The alcoholic edge is masked under the other flavors, but it is still recognizable. Despite that, it only adds a warmth to the beer-both in mouthfeel and mood-and withholding any unpleasant, overly alcoholic tang in order to maintain that smooth, rich pumpkin ale taste. At the back end, some hoppy bitterness adds a little zest, but it’s slight and fades quickly as the hops stay well below the full bodied maltiness. Like the bottle, it flows super smooth over the tongue, lingering for a while before the aftertaste kicks in as fresh pumpkin, mild spicing, and sweet bread malts. In the midst of a horror filled Halloween countdown, this beer turns its back on the evil aspects of the season, and embraces the warm, friendly festiveness that makes you smile with each drink.
It’s a wonderful example of a strong yet controlled pumpkin ale. Big malt notes create a perfect base upon which rich, smoky pumpkin notes mingle with perfect spicing, mild hop zestiness, and brown sugar sweetness to create fresh and full bodied tastiness. Throughout, a masked edge of alcohol lurks just under the surface, warming the mouth and upholding the overall feeling of comfort that I love in a pumpkin ale. Despite its alcohol potency and its mouth filling flavors, it goes down super smooth, ensuring everything stays nicely contained and superbly drinkable. It’s a bit pricey, around $6 a bottle if you’re lucky, but each bottle is almost a pint and a half of beer. Slow drinking (which draws each flavor out to its maximum potential) will ensure you get your money’s worth each time you take a drink.
My suggestions for this beer are any October or November night in which you find yourself surrounded by friends and family, or an awesome combination of both. It’s a great winter warmer version of a pumpkin ale, so if you stock up-and you should- it’ll be a perfect addition to your winter beer arsenal. My horror genre recommendation is actually no genre at all. You shouldn’t be watching a movie while drinking this. You should be swapping stories and laughing with friends until the early hours of the morning, even on a Monday (you still have sick days, right?) Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin is all about good times, and earns itself an A for capturing the true spirit of the season.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.3/10 A
Hello, and welcome to night nine of the 13 Beers of Halloween, brought to you by the dark lords of The Daily Beard. Coming off a night of mango mead tastiness, tonight’s offering is pretty much as far removed from mead as one can get. It’s also one of the strongest beers I’ve ever had, and it has one of the sweetest labels I’ve ever seen on anything. Ever. It’s Thirsty Dog’s Wulver, fresh off an 11 month stint of chilling out in a bourbon barrel, and arriving with a beastly 12% ABV. It’s classified as a wee heavy ale, which is the same as the Skull Splitter Ale from earlier, except this beer has spent the past year mingling with bourbon soaked oak char. Now, before drinking this, I want everyone to melt down all the silver you can find, and turn them into bullets or swords or whatever else you can think of. I don’t think this beer will care if it’s a full moon or not, and I don’t want to take any chances.
The initial bottle aroma is an insanely potent bloom of toasted coconut, with notes of vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts. It’s a monstrous aroma, driving straight through your nose and burying into the beer lobe of your brain. It has a stout-like heaviness that changes into a half beer, half bourbon hybrid. On top of everything, there’s a highly noticeable alcoholic edge. It’s not as sharp as a high proof alcohol, but it definitely packs a bigger punch than most other beers. After a few seconds, notes of caramel and oak rise up through the middle of the coconut and vanilla, clinging to the inside of your nose well after the bottle has been pulled away. All the ingredients are up front and fully loaded into each breath you take, dominating your senses even before you’ve tasted it.
That’s the thing with werewolves. They always have to be so savage. Nothing in moderation. I admire that quality, actually. Anyway, after too short a rest following that job with the witch, I received a note from my Blood Moon supplier. He needs a favor done, he needs it taken care of quietly, and he’s paying me top dollar for it. Silence and subtlety aren’t the easiest of goals to pull off when dealing with a werewolf, but I haven’t survived for 500 years by being sloppy. Besides, I’m running low on booze.
From what he’s told me, I’ll be looking for a big bastard by the name of Vladmir Romanov, one of the most notorious werewolves in the Balkan steppes. He’s been terrorizing small villages for years, slaughtering livestock and changing the occasional villager. Until a few weeks ago, that is. He’s made his way up and down the country side, leaving a trail of bodies behind him. And, now it’s up to me to go take care of him. As they say, back to the grind. What else is new, huh?
The first taste from the bottle is a massive explosion of toasted coconut, coffee, vanilla and oak that drops through your tongue like tasty napalm. The flavor is so intense, it makes you fill out a waiver before you even taste the first drop. A crazy-potent alcoholic edge is slightly masked by an overlying earthy sweetness, potentially from vanilla or chocolate notes, but make no mistake, you will taste and feel the alcohol whether you want to or not. The bourbon aging is in full force, creating massive notes of oak and vanilla that persists from start to finish. It’s so potent and brutal, you have to go super slow or else you’ll melt your tongue right out of your mouth. However, despite that, the aftertaste is a wonderfully sweet maltiness that lasts for about three years. On the tongue, the alcohol creates a definitive burn, but it continues quite smooth, with a bit of a tingle after the first few drinks.
I don’t know what it is about Eastern Europe that lends itself so well to mythical beasts. Maybe it’s the whole Dracula thing, or the run down, post communist vibe. Or, maybe it’s just the grey desolation that leaks out of the very ground. Whatever it is, it’s present here in…Cristeşti, Moldova. Where that is, I have no idea. I slept through the cattle-truck ride here. But, from the looks of things, something has these villagers spooked. Lamb’s blood protection wards, silver stakes and crosses hammered into any available surface, and armed farm boys patrolling the streets. Well, three farm boys at least. I don’t need to speak the language to understand that these people are under siege from a shape shifting psychopath. Luckily, full moon is in two days. I wonder what there is to eat around here…
The snifter aroma is the same as the bottle, except twice as massive. Colossal, toasted coconut and sweet chocolate bursts out from a volcano of coffee, roasted malts, oak and vanilla as a pyroclastic cloud of beastly proportions. Every flavor from the bottle is present in the aroma, as is the alcoholic kick. On the front, it is primarily comprised of bourbon notes, but there’s also a sugary rum-like quality that brings both a burn and a sweetness even before drinking. Visually, it pours a deep, clear roasted brown that collects into a super dark chestnut under a thin, white head.
Over the past two days, I’ve only seen a handful of villagers walking the streets. It seems that not even daylight is safe, though I haven’t caught sight of any wolfish man-beasts running around. This place reminds me of a little village in Brazil, about 70 years ago. Their werewolf was a smaller variety, but he was fast as hell. He could tear the throat of a full-grown man before anyone even knew what was happening. He became cocky, started attacking in the middle of the market place during the day, and boasting about his kill right in front of the poor bastards’ families. That was his favorite method. Well, until I unloaded a .45 full of silver slugs into his face. Gotta love memories. Anyway, for this job, I’ve beefed up the arsenal a bit, bringing a pump-action shotty loaded with 120 grain silver slugs. Overkill? Possibly, but I always say if it’s worth killing, it’s worth overkilling. In addition to the shotty, I’m wearing full Kevlar, steel toes, wolfsbane wrist wraps, and my Hadrubaal head band because it’s bad ass. I’m also packing a snub nosed .45 just in case. Sun’s going down within the hour, and the full moon’s just about to start peaking over the mountains. I’ve been told he starts his night at an outlying farm, slaughtering sheep to get his rocks off. I’ll catch up with him there, and see if he wants to chat.
Before I describe the snifter taste, I’ll let you know that my tongue has just burst into flame from the strength of this beer. These flavors are so potent, the only words I can think of to describe it are insanity, enormous, gigantic, hellfire, and please spare my soul. The first tastes show huge, alcoholic notes of oak, vanilla, chocolate and coffee, while toasted coconut and roasted malts burn and smolder at the back end. The same earthy sweetness tries its best to keep that biting alcoholic wave at bay, but it ultimately just ends up focusing it across your tongue. The aftertaste is sweet coffee and bready malts once more, but with each taste, it becomes more and more difficult to discern the specific flavors as the mouth starts to tingle and go numb after just a few drinks. Despite the crazy harsh bite, it flows rich and smooth over the tongue before finishing as a sweet, lingering burn at the back of the throat. Be sure to sip this as you would bourbon or whiskey. Not only will it equalize the flavors, but it will also make each flavor last longer, and save you from losing your esophagus.
He didn’t try to hide his approach. Loud, crashing gallops through the underbrush gave him away before the silver light of the moon revealed his position. He must not know I’m here. That’s good. I was told he has a scar across his chest, from shoulder to hip. Not that I needed additional proof that this was the right werewolf, but I’m not in the business of random killings. Anyway, once he swaggered out of the field and into the moonlight, I knew it was him. He was massive, standing near eight feet tall, wrapped in layers of bulging muscle, and of course, a deep, shiny scar across his chest. I slip around behind the sheep barn, sticking to the shadows as I pull a Bane out of my pocket and bite down on it. No light tonight – he’d smell the smoke from a mile away.
I crouch down behind the cracked engine block of a rusty old tractor, loading my slugs into the shotty, and tossing a thin, razor-sharp silver trip wire out across the ground. It anchors into a silo ten feet away. I leave it slack across the ground, holding the wire handle in my hand as I peer through the decrepit skeleton of a communist born John Deere. He’s making his way towards me, sniffing around like a kid in a candy store. Or a dog in a butchers’ shop. Suddenly, he lets out a howl and takes off towards the tractor. I pull the wire taut and wait. No turning back now. Biting down on the Bane, I lean back. I can hear him panting as he comes closer, able to see the sweat glistening off of his chest. Ah what the hell, he’s close enough now. I reach into my pocket and pull out a match, striking it against the tractor and bringing the flame to the tip of the cig. I toss the match behind me and turn back to Rover. I don’t even think he noticed . Must be too deep into his blood lust. I grin, taking a drag as I watch him pass beside the tractor.
This beer is insane. Sure, it may not be the strongest out there, but the mix of alcohol, huge flavors, and aged bourbon potency collide to create a teeth melting firestorm of biting tastiness. Huge notes of toasted coconuts, oak and vanilla make up the primary flavors, while chocolate, coffee and roasted malts support from a massive base. The entire drink is topped with a thick, earthy sweetness, as well as a colossal alcoholic bite that will put hair on your chest, before burning that hair off, and then punching you in the throat. A sweet, bread malt aftertaste prolongs a mild flavor alongside a long lasting alcoholic burn and tingle across the entire mouth. Despite the biting strength, it feels quite smooth over the tongue. Be sure to go slow in order to bring out all the flavors and enjoy them without drowning in the alcohol, and keep in mind that the price may be a bit steep for the super unique and strong qualities it offers, but if you’re into incredible potency, this will be right up your alley.
As he passes by the tractor, he finally catches wind of the cig smoke. Too late, though. His feet catch the tripwire, slicing into the muscle and sending him to the ground. I stand up and level the shotty at his chest. He’s vicious, flailing and snarling on the ground, not yet realizing his feet are just about useless. I stand clear, but remain close enough to guarantee a shot. I’m about to ask if he’d like to explain himself, when I notice something around his neck. A necklace of human ears and finger bones. Sorry pal, no talking your way out of this one. I bring the shotty up to my shoulder and aim, taking a drag on the Bane and staring into his eyes. Exhaling slowly, I pull the trigger, sending a slug between his eyes with enough force to knock diamonds loose a mile deep. It’s not pretty, but damn if it’s not effective. I take one last drag from the cig and lean down next to him, snuffing the Bane out against his chest. Who know’s what drove this guy to such animalistic actions. Hell, who knows why I’m still going. That’s not important. What is important is getting out of here before the “we’re saved” party begins. I hate parties…
My suggestions for drinking this are strictly during the evening. A long, slow night-cap, either in the summer to relax, or in the winter to stay warm. My horror genre is, of course, werewolf horror, such as An American Werewolf in London. Thirsty Dog’s Wulver earns a full moon sized B+.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 8.8/10 B+
It’s Saturday! That means no work (hopefully), no class (hopefully), and a full day’s worth of tasty beer drinking (or at least one awesome beer, at some point). Luckily, it’s night eight of my 13 Beers of Halloween. But, a word of warning. Tonight isn’t actually a beer. It’s something entirely different, but hopefully just as delicious. It’s B. Nektar Meadery’s Necromangocon, brewed with black pepper and mangoes. And if you know anything about the Evil Dead series, you should be growling your best “Groovy”. Now, I’ve never had a mead before. I know they involve honey, but that’s about as far as my mead knowledge extends. So, whether you’re like me and don’t know a thing about meads, or if you’re drinking one right now, go grab your chainsaws, load your boomsticks, and let’s go get our mead on.
The initial bottle smell is a potent floral bloom, with a spiced kick at the back edge. The mangoes aren’t all that noticeable, but there is an overall sweetness that’s been drizzled over everything. It provides a rich glaze that’s similar to an apple-less cider, with a thick honey sweetness that contains hints of big flower and pepper notes. It’s very intriguing, and pulls me in deeper, begging me to drink. Just as if Professor Knowby was reading some kind of mead-drinking incantation.
The first bottle taste is a crisp sweetness that glides over the tongue. The floral notes reveal themselves as the mango, with a tropical sweetness and brief tang that compliments the honey quite well. The mangoes are followed by a spicy pepper kick that settles at the back of the throat. It’s a lingering heat that keep’s the tongue warm, without overpowering or masking any of the other flavors. There are also hints of ginger amidst the pepper, which adds a sweet, herbal spice that makes the heat linger even longer. The overall flavor is quite crisp, without a strong aftertaste, delivering its flavor up front, and then jumping out of the way so that the next taste can have its time. Normally, a combination of mangoes, honey, and black pepper would seem more like something eaten on a dare, rather than anything I’d want to taste. But as a mead, those same ingredients work very nicely with each other. Nothing is overpowering, and the flavors last just the right amount of time. It’s a tasty, fresh delivery that is awesomely refreshing.
Once poured, the aroma is a super crisp, spicy bloom of flowers that bubbles up into your face. The mango is once again hidden under the floral notes, but the honey, ginger and pepper are a bit more noticeable this time. Actually, the aroma reminds me a bit of Crispin’s Pear cider- a mellow taste and aroma with sweet, fruity dominating flavors. The difference between that cider and this mead is an earthier profile from the pepper and ginger, and the warming, tingly heat provided by both. It pours a thick, pale gold with constant bubbling and no head at all.
The poured taste is much the same as the bottle, but everything is a bit more potent. The pepper and ginger heat clings and warms even deeper. The mangoes impart more of their tropical tang and profile to the sweetness of the mead, and the floral notes are a bit richer and pop a bit more on the tongue. In addition, the sweetness clings to your mouth longer than from the bottle, pushing the aftertaste to a lengthier limit. It’s wonderfully drinkable and exchanges some of its crispness for a rich, smooth feel once poured. Despite that, it still retains a bubbly edge that makes you do that lip smacking noise with every drink. You know the one.
In the end, I can say my first mead experience was fairly awesome. The off the wall combination of mangoes, ginger and black pepper makes for a delightfully refreshing and drinkable brew. The overall sweetness is lovely on the tongue, and its major bubbliness keeps each drink crisp and fresh over and over again. It doesn’t last too long flavor-wise, but the pepper and ginger heat clings to the back of your throat as a gentle warmth long after you’ve finished drinking. The honey gives it a sweet, syrupy flavor and feel, but it also bumps up the price to around $8 a bottle. Despite that, it’s definitely tasty enough to justify one, or two, or five a month…Or week.
My suggestions for this mead are during the summer months, when you need a refreshing thirst quencher, but want something more exciting than just water. On the other hand, it can be a tasty winter drink, with the pepper and ginger heat keeping you warm on even the coldest of winter nights. My horror genre recommendation isn’t actually a genre, it’s the Evil Dead series – Evil Dead 1 and 2, Army of Darkness, and the 2013 reboot. Watch them all in a row while enjoying a bottle of this mead. B. Nektar’s Necromangocon earns a soul-swallowing A-. Watch out for the trees, everyone.
Lasting Strength: 9/10
Overall: 9/10 A-
Happy Friday everyone! We’re a week into the 13 Beers of Halloween and so far it’s been a fairly delicious ride, yesterday’s speed bump notwithstanding. Fortunately, we have no time to look back and contemplate on what might have been. Instead, we push forward into dark and shadowy territory. Tonight, that territory is filled with cackling, huge warty noses, and newt eyes, as we revisit Wychwood breweries and take their Wychcraft Blonde Ale for a spin. This is another new one for me, but if it’s anything like other Wychwood brews, we should be in for a treat. So let’s go get our Hansel and Gretel on, and find ourselves a witch.
The initial aroma resembles a pilsner, but slowly fades into a light, citrusy cloud of mild hops and drizzled honey. Then, like a fog parting over a forest clearing, a full-bodied bread maltiness appears, supporting faint hints of plums and sweet cherries. It’s a wonderful aroma – mouth watering and rich in both savory malts and honey-dipped fruits. Quite cozy for something bearing the name “Wychcraft”.
Actually, deception is a favorite tactic of black witches. It’s that deception that has led me here today. What do I mean? One year ago, a small town in northern Montana was the site of a darkness so pervasive, the town has since disappeared. On a small farm, just outside the township limits, lived a sweet, little old lady. She was the nicest of women – baking cookies, knitting sweaters, pinching cheeks – you know the type. She also loved Halloween. Every year, she would throw a costume party for the neighborhood children. It was a small town, she was a nice old lady, no questions were asked or hesitations offered. Anyway, at the stroke of midnight, a blood curdling shriek was heard, and a green glow was seen bursting through the windows of the house. When police finally arrived to investigate, they found the old woman, seated in a circle of 30 pairs of children’s shoes, chewing on a leg. Only one cop made it out, but he managed to describe what he saw before he went insane and jumped off a bridge. He recalled that her skin was green and leathery, and her mouth had elongated into a short muzzle, with three rows of fang-like teeth. Her fingers had been long and spindly, each one ending in a black claw. He went on to say how she tore through the other cops, and would have killed him as well if he hadn’t gotten off a lucky shot that happened to hit her through the left eye. She didn’t die of course (it takes a bit more than that to kill a witch), and vanished before anyone could subdue her. She may have thought she got away with it, but I’ve spent the past year tracking her, to this very town. And finally, tonight, she will pay, and hopefully those kids can be at peace.
Now, I bet you’re wondering who is this guy who shows up out of nowhere and starts going on about witches and murders? Well, I’m the grey between life’s black and white. I’m the movement at the corner of your eye, punishing what it was you thought you saw. I’m the reason why monsters hide under the bed. The name’s Grimm, Marcus Grimm, freelance Shadow Walker.
Whoa…Alright, that took off into something crazy. I’ll get back to the review, before this thing spirals out of control. Taking a drink, the taste is just as pleasant as the aroma. The pilsner-ish tang starts out on the front of the tongue before morphing into a rich base of honeyed malts, mild fruits, and a citrusy hop edge at the back end. It has a sweet profile, but it’s an earthy sweetness that accentuates the bread. The flavors start and stay mild, without any loud spice noise, or odd flavors, or anything that tries to “push the limit”. It’s just a tasty beer flavor, with an aftertaste of bread and honey that stays mild and delicious for a long time.
A long time…That describes my life. I don’t really remember the early years. I’ve been hunting evil for so long, all the good times – the normal years – just faded away. Bah, empty thinking. I have a job to do.
I load up my gear – crossbow, gold shafts with blessed tips, stag hide vest, black steel wrist blades, jet-black Hadrubaal Monk head band, and a pack of unfiltered Banes.
What, after 500 years of killing evil, of course I have some vices. Sue me.
There I go again. It’s the beer. Apparently it’s acting like my muse tonight. Better just roll with it, eh? Anyway, once poured into a pint glass, the aroma of this beer is super mellow and wonderfully pleasant. Subtle hints of butterscotch mingle with bread malts and mild hops. Some honeyed plums and cherries make it to the top as well, creating a sweet yet rich bouquet of aromas. Like the taste, it isn’t too complex, remaining true to a handful of ingredients, and doing so in a spectacular fashion. It pours a beautiful clear gold under a thick, clingy white head.
A beer sounds nice right about now. It’s been a while since my last brew. Usually it’s either red wine or Blood Moon Whiskey. Don’t ask me where that stuff is from. I’d have to betray the trust of a werewolf if I told you, and that’s a problem I don’t feel like having. Maybe I’ll treat myself later. Find a quiet little deli. Order a thick, rare steak, and reminisce over my life with one of those beers. Hah! Me, treating myself, like a normal guy.
I kick down the door, my booming laugh filling the dank hallway, sending clouds of dust swirling through the air. It smells of mothballs and old meat in here. Definitely the right place. I head down the hall, pulling a cig from my pocket and holding it between my lips. I don’t light it. Not yet at least. I stop and unsling the crossbow, nocking a shaft in place and locking it back in full draw. A witch will typically sleep during the day, somewhere dark and quiet, but I always leave room for surprises. I hate surprises.
Moving forward again, I find the stairs that lead down to the basement and take a step into the darkened doorway. I pull a match from the front of my vest and strike it against the wall, bringing the flame to the tip of my cig before pinching the match out between my fingers. I take a slow drag as I creep down the stairs, smiling as the blue-black smoke slithers down into my chest. Don’t ask where I get these either. No werewolf this time, but the guy I buy them from is highly paranoid, and I don’t want to lose my supply.
I exhale through my nose, pulling a clear glass bottle from another pocket of the vest. There’s a red and gold fleur de lis on the front, and some flaking black paint that reads feu noir. I just call it Demon piss. Strong enough to burn through the front of your chest before you even feel a buzz. I bite down on the stopper and spit it to the side, taking a quick pull from the bottle. It’s like drinking liquid razor blades, and the pumice smoke from the Bane isn’t helping any. I grimace, spit, and stuff a wad of cotton into the bottle, taking another long drag on the cigarette before holding the cotton against the glowing tip. In an instant, a blood-red flame erupts from the top of the bottle. With a last puff of the Bane, I flip it to the side, take a step forward, and toss the bottle into the back corner of the basement.
The poured flavors are tastier on a new level. The sweet notes are pushed back a bit, allowing a savory bread and biscuit profile to dominate. Light fruits and honey are still present, as is the faintest of citrus hops, but the malts are king here. On the tongue, it feels full and creamy, covering every inch with full bodied heartiness. Again, there aren’t any special features, just wonderfully tasty beer that clings to the tongue and lasts forever. It’s super refreshing, and brings about a feeling of warmth that puts you into a great mood, regardless of how stressful or busy or difficult your day has been.
I knew she’d be in that corner. They always sleep facing the south west. And, now she’s burning for her predictability. I can hear her trying to get a spell off in between her screams. I bring the crossbow to my shoulder and pull the release, sending a golden shaft glinting through the air until it buries itself into her neck, turning her screams into rasping coughs. Like I said earlier, killing a witch isn’t an easy task. Well, unless you’re me. A long enough Black Steel blade will end her, but she’s a child killer, so I’ll let her suffer. I pull another Bane from the pack and walk up to her, holding the cig out and lighting it from one of the red flares of flame that leap off of her. Chuckling, I take a drag, standing back and watching with a bitter-sweet satisfaction. No matter how many I kill, there will always be more. I shouldn’t be complaining. It puts food on the table. Or at least booze and cigs. I take another long drag as she finally slumps to the ground, a wheezing silhouette against the glowing coals around her. I’m not one for theatrics, so I finish the cig, toss it over my shoulder and pull the blade from the strap on my wrist. In one motion, eight inches of steel have disappeared into her chest, driving in as easy as, well, a black steel blade through a witch’s chest. I take a step back as she begins to dissolve into an acid puddle of dirty brown, hissing as it hits the smoldering patches of carpet and wooden beams behind her. Another spot of evil gone. Another job done, another paycheck to collect. At least this one was clean. My last job was a Wendingo who liked to paint with body fluids. Took weeks to air out my jacket…
To put it bluntly, this beer was awesome. I mean, I’m not saying it has any magical properties, but I did write a short story just from drinking it. The perfect blend of malts, hops, honey and fruits, create a mouth watering, full bodied, tongue hugging ale of deliciousness. Supremely smooth and drinkable, the few ingredients work perfectly with one another, showing that quality doesn’t depend on quantity. You can drink it fast or slow – either way will be just as tasty. And, don’t worry about the price. With beer this nice, just buy it. You’ll thank me.
My suggestions are really any day, any time, and any place. Specifically, a lazy afternoon, watching movies with your friends. My horror genre is a comedic, dark hero horror, basically anything like the newest Hansel and Gretel.
Rebounding huge from yesterday’s low point, Wychwood’s Wychraft earns a Marcus Grimm approved A.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.4/10 A
Hello again, ladies and gentleman. Thanks for stopping by for night six of my 13 Beers of Halloween. Today also marks a week before Halloween, and the halfway point of the tastiest two weeks I’ve had in a while. But don’t worry, we still have plenty of beer coming up. Tonight will hopefully be another relaxed evening as we take a pit stop and enjoy Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin ale. I’ve never tried it, but I know people who swear by it, to the point of outright rejecting any other pumpkin beer out of hardcore gourdish pride. How will it fare against the other pumpkin beers we’ve sampled? Let’s find out!
The initial smell from the bottle is much like the taste of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale. Big, spiced pumpkin patch pumpkins blooms out above a bed of sweet malts. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and a sizable helping of cloves add a festive spice profile, while the pumpkin stays fresh and earthy, refusing to go near the sweet and nutty pie variation. At the back of the aroma, fresh apple peels provide a sweet and slightly tangy finish, conjuring feelings of fall freshness.
The first taste from the bottle erupts with big malts, nestled within a cloud of spicy pumpkin. Cloves show up huge, pushing the festive holiday feeling to new heights. Any sweetness is majorly subdued, existing only as a subtle malty sweetness that you have to search for just to catch a glimpse, as well as a mild apple peel taste at the end of the flavors. There’s also a slight alcohol kick at the back-end, along with some cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled atop the pumpkiny malts. To me, it’s a bit harsh for a pumpkin beer. All the tasty qualities are there, but they never seem to settle in and play nice with each other. And, that unmasked alcohol taste lessens the warmth and comfort that I look for in a pumpkin ale. Sure, it may keep you warm, but it doesn’t remind me of a crackling fire, or sweaters, or laughing at a friend when he falls into the apple bobbing tub. That’s just me, though. And, maybe all of these ingredients will find their place once it’s poured.
Emptying the bottle into a pint glass, the aroma is a bit more promising. Big notes of clove and floral pumpkin still dominate, but there’s also a slight hint of nutty sweetness that peers up through the spicy haze. It’s fleeting, but perhaps the warming mellowness I’ve been looking for is in there after all. In addition, the other spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice) are strongly enhanced from the bottle smell. Actually, it’s a bit too much, almost like a scented candle. After a few inhalations, the spices just grow stronger, clinging to the inside of the nose in a manner that’s not too pleasant. In fact, I can’t even smell the comforting pumpkin notes that I had just found moments earlier. These spices are like bullies, stealing lunch money from all the other ingredients, and then giving them beer wedgies. With that image in your minds, I’ll let you know that it does at least look very nice, pouring a coppery pumpkin hue underneath a thick, frothy, cream-colored head.
Alright, taking a drink from the pint glass as my last attempt to find the elusive happy flavors I’ve been searching for, I’m greeted with an even stronger bite of alcohol. That would be bad by itself, but then the beer tries to mask that alcohol by bombarding my tongue with a spice riot. The cloves are acting like the love child of Ivan Drago and Clubber Lang, dominating every inch of my tongue while taunting me and my family, and probably promoting communism. Each drink is like eating a mouthful of clove stems, while someone throws handfuls of cinnamon and nutmeg at your face. Toned down, it wouldn’t be a terrible flavor, and probably would be quite enjoyable. But the strength of the spices are so dominating, they don’t allow any breathing room for the other flavors. I can barely make out a fleeting pumpkin freshness at the very bottom of each taste, but it’s more like an essence of pumpkin – a ghost of something that was once tasty, but is now just a memory. The malts from earlier only show up in the aftertaste, which I’ll admit is the best part of this beer. It’s a collection of mildly spiced bread malts and apple sauce that lasts for a while. However, the total package falls well short of tasty, and knocks it’s taste-to-cost value well below anything I would recommend spending money on. As I said before, I know people who go crazy over this beer, and who know’s, maybe I had a bad batch. But it’s just not doing it for me.
Earning the less than enviable honor of “first bad beer of Halloween”, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale fails to deliver the comfortable warmth that I love and expect from pumpkin beers. Not every one has to taste like bottled pie, and the spiced, fresh pumpkin variety can be wonderfully delicious. Just look at Dogfish Head. Tonight’s offering is definitely not wonderfully delicious, instead tasting more like a scented fall candle locked inside a spice cabinet. There are some moments early on where fresh pumpkin and bready malts try to break through, but they’re immediately smothered by an army of spices (led by General Clovious). Not to mention the alcoholic edge that pops up more often than I would like in a pumpkin beer. If there was any form of warmth or pumpkiny goodness, the alcohol interrupted it, like a mom walking in on you kissing your first date.
I don’t really have any suggestion for this beer. If you’re into super spiced beers, I guess drink it whenever and wherever makes you happy. My horror genre is Campy Horror. Not campy as in “Night of the Living Tents” or that one time a guy in Yogi Bear costume went on a rampage. Instead, any movie like Troll, Leprechaun, or anything riffed on by MST3K. Weyerbacker’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale earns a D, which also looks like a sad pumpkin face D:
Lasting Strength: 9/10
Overall: 6.4/10 D