The season seems to have finally arrived for the pumpkin beers that were unexplainably released sometime near the end of
August. I’ve personally managed to compile Dogfish Head – Punkin, New Holland Brewing Co – Ichabod Ale, Weyerbacher – Imperial Pumpkin, Schlafly – Pumpkin ale, Southern Tier – Pumking, and Hopping Frog – Double Pumpkin. While I find some to be great and others to be rather boring, I knew I only wanted to do one pumpkin review for the season. I debated doing the Weyerbacher. While I discovered a love of pumpkin last year with the Dogfish Head version, the Weyerbacher has managed to extend that love this year. However, last week I found this bottle from Unita. This being a big bottle, I didn’t have a chance to try it to figure out if it’s on the stellar or pedestrian side of things, but it seemed to be an interesting enough combination to earn the honor of this review. Hopefully it is deserving.
As I said, I’ve really only started developing an appreciation for pumpkin beers over the past year. Of course, there was a big break in between the pumpkin seasons, so I suppose that really only totals a few months. What I’ve come to find about pumpkin beers is that it isn’t really about the pumpkin actually taking the reins. Most of the time, it’s actually more about featuring the spices and other flavors that accompany the flavor of pumpkin. Many beers throw in the clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon to get you more of a spiced pumpkin flavor. I’m still not really all that sure how Pumking gets their beer to taste like it is literally pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Anyway you look at it, it’s more what you can do to the pumpkin that will win over your consumers. That’s what really drew me to trying this particular beer. The fact that it is imperial and aged in oak barrels was enough to get my attention.
Unita is a brewery I’m beginning to become more familiar with. I love that they are a great brewery coming out of the Mormon state of Utah, and I’ve tried 3-4 beers that I’ve found quite enjoyable. Here’s an interesting fact, they created the first barleywine beer I ever had. Either way, knowing what I’ve had out of this brewery before, I was thinking I couldn’t go wrong with this big bold bottle of oaked pumpkin beer.
This one pours out a very dark brown color with some slight hints of reddish auburn in it. Although I’ve had a pumpkin porter before, this one was certainly one of the darker pumpkin beers I’ve had. It develops a nice moderate tan head. Swirling the glass displays a lot of nice lacing and tons of sticky residue. The beer has some slight haze to it, and it would seem there is no real visible carbonation. Agitating the beer displays a little activity in the glass, but it’s pretty much too dark to see a lot of carbonation action.
The smell is certainly dominated by some very big pumpkin and spice combination. The scent seems to be dominated by clove, cinnamon, and a whole lot of nutmeg. The nutmeg is probably the show stealer here. Being a big beer at 10.31% ABV, I didn’t expect it to have a crisp and clean aroma, but it somehow did. You certainly can smell the slight oak aroma and you get a little bit of light booze on the nose as well. I’m thinking there may be some slight hops here that are keeping it fresh smelling.
The first sip certainly revealed the biggest pumpkin beer I’ve ever had. The flavors start with some pretty big sweet malts. These mix in nicely with the big pumpkin and bold spices they used in their mix. The big pumpkin flavors start-up almost immediately. The pumpkin flavors seem to build over the course of the beer. The spices have some light cinnamon, nice clove, and really big nutmeg flavors. Right in the middle you hit a big booze flavor. The booze has that huge oak flavoring to it that really shows this as the well aged pumpkin beer it is. You get some slight hops and more booze on the finish. The spices seem to be somewhat concentrated on the ending as well.
The mouthfeel has some carbonation all throughout the beer; however, it’s really slight to allow the beer to feel even more boozy and syrupy throughout. I drank this one all by my lonesome, so I could certainly feel the effects of the big imperial nature by the end. It has some really good big bold flavors all throughout it. I really like the way the spices and pumpkin developed overtime, and the oak and booze add a nice twist.
There are good beers for everyday drinking and there are good beers for special occasions. This is a big beer that should be shared by a few friends. If you can find this one, pick it up and hold on to it for a nice beer with desert after Thanksgiving dinner. This one certainly won’t disappoint. I’m quite tempted to go grab another bottle for just this purpose.
Teacher Grade: A+