Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Mere weeks ago in this space we were bemoaning the decline of the hallowed Fall seasonal, the pumpkin ale, as manifested in recent drops in quality from the offerings by Dogfish Head, Buffalo Bill's, and yes, SOUTHERN TIER. But one night - one magic, special night - changed all of that for me. I'm talking of course of the SMASHED PUMPKIN ale from Maine's SHIPYARD BREWING, served to me on draft & with a smile at the Monk's Kettle in San Francisco last week. This one, let it be said, is the early leader in the HBJ 2009 Fall pumpkin/spiced beer taste-off, and granted, while the sample size is, uh, quite low (about 3 right now), the beer is one to be reckoned with no matter what it's put up against.

I'd only had a sole SHIPYARD beer to date, a mediocre ESB if I recall, and I'll admit these fellas haven't been anywhere near top of mind. They've been distributing here on the West Coast recently, and their bottles seem to sit & collect dust wherever I've seen them. Not being a hater, just a teller of truth, my friends. Their SMASHED PUMPKIN ale is in 22-ounce bottles, and definitely earns the "imperial" label they slap on it, given its 9% alcohol content. Hey, that got you interested, didn't it? The pumpkin itself it quite muted and not the real story here - the great, mouth-enveloping spices and general tang of the thing is. It even has a mild sour flavor, perhaps in a look across the Atlantic to Belgium or something. Oh - and it's hoppy. Very, very hoppy, at least relative to my expectations. It's a really good beer and I suggest you have a bomber or two of this sitting next to you on the porch this Saturday night. 8/10.

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