Sip a mighty tasty Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin Ale, just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving!
I can still remember the first time I found a pumpkin ale at my local market. Pumpkin is one of my absolute favorite flavors, especially when combined with all the cinnamony-nutmegy flavors that tend to come along with it. Add ale, another of my favorites, and it sounded like heaven. I can’t even remember who made it — there are usually quite a few pumpkin ales on the shelves and taps at this time of year. I couldn’t wait to get home to try it. The reality, alas, was a disappointment. So was the next pumpkin ale I tried, and the one after that. I never learned my lesson, though. I never gave up. Someone, someday, was going to brew a pumpkin ale that lived up to my expectations.
That persistence finally paid off when I tried Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin Ale on tap at my neighborhood Marlay House pub. It’s everything I ever hoped a pumpkin ale would be. It pours a lovely brown amber (almost orange) color with a tan head that doesn’t linger. The aroma, rich cinnamon and spice with caramel sweetness and, of course, pumpkin, is pleasant and evocative — it makes you think of those bright Arthur Rackham illustrations of the Fezziwig’s party in A Christmas Carol, or holiday feasts in a Norman Rockwell painting. There is something quaint and lovely about it, something distinctly autumn, a comfort scent.
The flavor lives up to the aroma. It’s a big, festive ale. The bready, wheaty tastes of the ale balance the sweet pumpkin spice nicely, creating waves of complex flavor. The flavors promised by the scent are all there, along with a very subtle touch of vanilla. More, the ale was seasoned in bourbon oak casks, giving it a boozy wood finish that is unexpected and really quite delicious. In fact, that conditioning is what separates Great’er Pumpkin from the merely Great Pumpkin that Heavy Seas also brews. I haven’t tried that yet, but the oak cask conditioning and the hint of bourbon flavor make this really special, so I’m not sure I want to.
This is one of the very best seasonal brews I’ve tried in ages. It’s a little hard to find, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. If you give it a try, I hope you’ll let me know what you think.