Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Upslope Pumpkin Ale review

Upslope Pumpkin AleWhat's orange, is generally consumed in the Fall and comes in a can? If you said pumpkin pie filling you are almost correct. In this case, this pumpkin essence comes in a 16oz beer can and hails from Boulder, Colorado. Upslope Brewing, known for canning it's craft beers came out with a seasonal brew called Upslope Pumpkin Ale - an ale brewed with pumpkins and spice.

This beer can be classified as a Spice / Herb / Vegetable beer and is the third beer in Upslope's Limited Release edition beers. While this beer came out in mid-September, it is still a seasonal selection that would be perfect for late summer through the end of the year. It even won a Gold medal at the 2011 GABF.

Upslope used fresh cut and baked organic baby bear Pumpkins and a mix of six different spices from a local spice shop in the 120 barrels of brew they made in 2012. Upslope Pumpkin Ale weighed in at 7.7% ABV and 25 IBUs. Calorie counters should note a full serving will gain you around 231 calories. This is definitely a beer that was the direct result of a brewer / farmer collaboration. Would Upslope get just the right amount of pumpkin and spice mixed in? Let's find out...

Appearance: It should be noted that this beer was poured fairly cold, around 40 degrees (F). The beer itself poured a dark copper color that had excellent clarity. The pour didn't build up much of an off-white head at all even with a fairly aggressive pour. It may have been a bit too cold for head production. The beer seemed adequately carbonated. Swirling the glass later on as it warmed gave off a thin white lacing on the glass that quickly slid away. (Update: the second pouring later on did yield a nice off-white head - so don't serve it too cold).

Aroma: Close your eyes and you could definitely tell this was a pumpkin + spiced brew. The aroma is unmistakable. I got all the usual pumpkin spice aromas. While not listed, I sensed some cinnamon, perhaps some ginger, some allspice or cloves and of course roasted pumpkin (although subtle). Behind all that, hid some earthy hops and some lightly roasted malt aromas (perhaps some caramel).

Upslope Pumpkin Ale canTaste: From the very first sip to the last, my mouth was filled with a big bold pumpkin / spice taste. This was a full bodied beer and had a lot of different taste sensations going on at the same time. There was a nice underlying malt base that was slightly sweet. The pumpkin and the spices added a lot to the taste, but luckily held back enough not to be overpowering. This brew had a clean and fresh taste about it, even after sitting in a can for two months. The taste was consistent from start to finish. It left me with some taste buds that were seemingly woken up by the experience. The more I drank it, the more flavor seemed to come out. The alcohol in this brew was noticeable, but not too strong.

Overall: I've tried several beers over the last 5 years and I find that each one is truly quite different than the other. Some pumpkin beers can be overly spiced, some can be weak and watery, some can be mixed with a darker based beer and some can be just oddly vegetal tasting, but Upslope seemed to ensure that all the ingredients were farm fresh and they took a great deal of care to get the best mix of malt, yeast, water, pumpkin, hops and spice for this recipe. I can see why it won a Gold medal in 2011 (didn't win in 2012 however).

Pumpkin beers can be hit or miss and I think Upslope hit it right for this one. The can seemed to keep this brew tasting fresh too, so don't let the metal casing scare you off. This is a darn good pumpkin beer. I'm now sorry that I only bought a single can of this. I'll have to pick up more before it's all gone for the year.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store.

Related articles:
- Upslope Foreign Style Stout review.
- Upslope Pale Ale review.
- Upslope Brown Ale review.
- Upslope Christmas Ale review. (2012)

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