Thursday, October 31, 2013
Almanac Beer Company - Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine
It's Halloween today, which can only mean one thing on this blog- Pumpkin Beer Time! I'm gonna try something a little different this year though: Instead of a pumpkin beer bonanza like I've done the past few years, I'm only going to be reviewing one pumpkin beer this Halloween. But it's a really, really good one.
Almanac Beer Company is pretty new to the scene down here in San Diego. As you may remember, I really enjoyed their single hop series of IPAs. But they've also been known to do things a little differently, including a series of sour beers with seldom used (in the world of beer, at least) fruits like persimmons, nectarines and Buddha's hand citrons. Recently, they released a pumpkin beer that's unlike anything I have ever come across. It's a barleywine made with heirloom pumpkins and partially aged in brandy barrels. Sound interesting? I thought so.
Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine pours a deep chestnut color with reddish tinges around the edges. Being used to the blast of artificial pumpkin pie that you smell in a lot of pumpkin ales, I was surprised to find nothing artificial in the aroma. Instead, there was a slightly bitter and vegetal wave of roasted pumpkin. That might sound unappetizing, but it was actually pretty refreshing to find something different. Behind the pumpkin aroma were some sweeter notes in the form of toasted brown sugar, brandy, cinnamon and clove. A little brandy can go a long way, but this melded into the other sweet aromas here beautifully. This beer is worth the price of admission for the smell alone.
The flavor definitely brings the pumpkin, but it's not in the traditional pumpkin pie form. It's richer and denser, almost like a pumpkin nut loaf. Hints of nutmeg and cinnamon linger around it, along with some brandy which is really well restrained. Nothing about this beer really said "barleywine" to me (besides the higher ABV), but that was fine by me because everything about this beer did say "awesome." Almanac has done something entirely different with the pumpkin ale and they've knocked it out of the park. Easily in the Top 3 pumpkin beers I've ever had.
Final Grade: A
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 129