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