This pours a perfectly clear, golden-yellow color and produces a finger of white head. Moderate carbonation keeps the surface active and shows signs of decent retention.
The aroma is filled with a nice mix of pumpkin spice and alcoholic character. Pumpkin, nutmeg, butter, and bourbon are among the pool of ingredients at the nose. There are also mild notes of vanilla and oak. The barrel-aged character is evident and suggests a smooth, rich flavor to come.
This is a fantastic blend of pumpkin flavor atop an alcohol foundation. The taste follows the nose in that cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, and bourbon characters are all present. The front injects a layer of sweet malt which sets the stage for the spices. It’s a sugary front that proves necessary as the alcohol builds towards the back. The buttery flavor melts on the palate from the back to the aftertaste. The pumpkin character isn’t defined by the spices but instead enhanced by them. The back is biscuity, malt-driven, and sweet, allowing the barrel quality to shine into the aftertaste. The finish is saturated with a buttery booze and provides a final kick of pumpkin flavor. This is certainly as good, if not better than batches from previous years.
This is a medium-bodied beer with mild-to-moderate carbonation. It’s wet, silky, and provides a light, satisfying combing of the palate. There’s a slight warmth provided by the booze but nothing too sharp, too syrupy, or otherwise hindering the drinkability.
Kentucky Barrel Ale is a staple of mine so I generally look forward their pumpkin option, but I never found it to be outstanding. I won’t say it’s outstanding this year but I find it to certainly be one of the better batches I’ve had. It’s a beautiful balance of pumpkin, spice, and bourbon, defined by its barreled history and prominent malt base. The alcohol never overpowers the experience, therefore providing a great balance and complexity. Most impressive is the pumpkin itself. It seems to be abundant and rich, unlike years past. Furthermore, it’s surprisingly drinkable for such a high alcohol content, and provides more texture and retention than past batches. It’s definitely a pumpkin beer worth trying, especially if you’re looking for a barrel-aged option.