20 Pounds of Pumpkin

Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Appearance

This pours a dark amber color and produces about a finger of light tan head. It’s body is nearly clear with just a slight haze to show off the carbonation. There’s no sign of lacing as the head dissipates to nothing more than a thin membrane.

Aroma

This is an interesting aroma. There’s nearly no notes of pumpkin and very mild notes of a cinnamon and nutmeg. Instead the smell is defined mostly by notes distributed by the malt base. It’s a bit sweet and toasty smelling. It oddly reminds me of a brown ale.

Taste

I’m greeted by what I predicted with the nose: almost all malt. The flavor is first defined by toasty, bready malts. They provide a moderate amount of sugar and act as the foundation for the eventual spices and pumpkin. As I transition, these aspects increase, and continue to do so until the finish. Some wet, vegetal pumpkin begins to surface and floats atop a mild spice bill that follows the nose. The malt base’s sugars match well with the pumpkin and spices. The finish and aftertaste provide an even more intense flavor still built on malt but also further defined by pumpkin and spice. It’s certainly one of the more linear tastes I’ve come across in terms of an experience from front to back to finish.

Mouthfeel

This is a medium-bodied beer with moderate carbonation. It’s somewhat sticky thanks to the near absence of hops. However it’s a fairly drinkable beer and there’s just enough texture from the spices to keep the palate interested.

Overall

While so many pumpkin beers rely on sweetness, this one focuses on allowing a sweetness to gradually build. The spices don’t hit you over the head, and the malt foundation gradually intensifies. The pumpkin that is present is enjoyable because of the cooperation of the spices and foundation. It’s decently balanced, decently complex and for what it’s worth, it’s impressive to have such a calm and enjoyable experience from an option that seemingly does not include a hops character. The vegetal pumpkin and the ability to keep a malt-driven profile in check makes this one a good choice all around. Then again, does Sam Adams make a bad beer?

3.5