It’s fall, and for me that means it’s time to indulge in everything pumpkin. Yes, I’m one of those girls, and if you just. don’t. understand., then you are just one of those guys who probably feels that merely donning a mask is an appropriate Halloween costume. To me, pumpkin ales fit right in with a crisp New England fall as much as foliage or black cats. They go back hundreds of years, when the cool air made pumpkins more readily available than other beer-making ingredients. It just makes sense, and people who are obsessed with fall are far more tolerable, than say, people who go overboard for spring. Trust me on that.
I ended up with this beer when some coworkers and myself took a break to go redeem bottles and cans. The pumpkin beer display at Pioppi’s in Plymouth was overwhelming. They weren’t doing a tasting, and I didn’t want to take the chance of not buying a beer I may fall madly and passionately, in love with, one to keep me warm on these cold October nights, who I could fall asleep with(realistically, pass-out), cradling their 22 oz form between my slender arms.
One of the beers I ended up with was the Cambridge Brewing Co. (CBC) “Great Pumpkin Ale!”, 4.4% alc/vol, Batch 1, bottled in September 2011. This is the first time (I think), that they’ve bottled the beer, previously only available on-tap. Something interesting about the beer is that they keep it local, the organic sugar pumpkins, organic barley (which is made into a small-batch malt in MA as well), and hops, are all from Massachusetts farms. Having lived in the farming part of the state for years, anyone who makes an effort to support our local farms automatically gets a couple of points in my book.
When I poured it, it was a deep orange/amber color, with a light foam that quickly diminished to a thin layer. The pumpkin flavor of the beer is subtle, it isn’t very noticeable in the aroma, however, which has a smell of nutmeg, cloves, hops, and cinnamon. However, the taste isn’t overly sweet. It isn’t like drinking liquid pie like some seasonals, which is great. If I wanted pie, I’d go eat a pie. This tastes like what it is, a beer made with pumpkin to have the essence of a pie, not replace a pie.
I found it to have bitter hops for a pumpkin beer, but the malt also had a strong, bready flavor, so it balanced out very well, they really kick in mid-palate (sip?), which gives it a well-balanced, sweet, and still crisp taste. However, the aftertaste is distinctly pumpkin with hints of brown sugar. It’s a perfect, medium-bodied pumpkin beer.
Unlike most pumpkin beers, the brewery plans to keep this on tap and in production throughout Thanksgiving, as opposed to tapering off at the end of October. I strongly urge you, nay!, I implore you, to have this beer on your table this Thanksgiving.
Conclusion: A, the price is great for such a quality beer, no excuse not to try it. This is by far the best pumpkin beer I have tried.
Cambridge Brewing Co.: http://cambridgebrewing.com