Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Ale with pumpkin & spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves), 8% ABV

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Weyerbacher Brewing Co., Easton, PA

By Bill Lau

Posted October 11, 2015

We’re well into October like nobody’s business, so it’s time to delve into the ubiquitous pumpkin beer category. For the younger readers out there, there was a time not so long ago when there was no such thing. Pumpkin ales were a historical oddity from Colonial times, when brewers were forced to use whatever indigenous ingredients were available for fermentation due to scarcity of malted barley. Obviously we have barley in abundance in the present. Nowadays we add pumpkin and spices to our seasonal brews because we want to, not as a last resort.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewing Company in Hayward, CA generally gets the credit for reviving the style commercially back in 1985, though many of us did not see this or any other pumpkin beer until a number of years later. The style has certainly caught on, though, and is now brewed in some form or fashion by hundreds of American craft brewers. For whatever reason, many are done as imperial ales, clocking in above 7% ABV. And most employ some measure of spices, typically those found in pumpkin pie recipes, but with myriad variations on the exact spices and ratios used.

So let’s get on with the review, shall we?

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Appearance (4/5): Deep reddish-orange-amber in appearance, with a steady stream of bubbles rising into the pale beige head of foam which starts out about a finger’s width high then slowly subsides to a collar and large island. The beer glows with a slight haze when held up to a light.

Aroma (6.5/10): Presents a nose of spices – cinnamon reminiscent of Red Hots candy predominates (a bit strong for my preference), with some nutmeg, touch of cardamom, a hint of cloves, and pumpkin in the background.

Palate (5/5): Moderately full-bodied with a smooth, mellow & slightly creamy texture. Nice.

Taste (7/10): Expected to be slapped in the face by cinnamon based on the aroma, but pleasantly surprised with a slightly tangy and malty start, followed by a not-too-heavy blend of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg & cloves. Dries a bit with a gentle bitterness, then rounds back into a tangy, ever-so-slightly puckering finish. There’s at least the suggestion of a pumpkin/squash component mixed in, and some fleeting caramel malt notes. Leaves behind a lingering aftertaste of the spices.

Overall (15/20): I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive at first, with that heavy cinnamon aroma, but wound up being pleasantly surprised by the overall character of the beer. A very nicely made spiced pumpkin beer.

Disclosure: The author has received no reimbursement or compensation for this article. All opinions and remarks are those of the author alone.

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