Lakefront Brandy Barrel-Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Lakefront Brewery

Appearance

This pours a deep amber color with just shy of a finger off-white head. This dissipates quickly leaving an ivory membrane on the surface. It’s body has a cider-like haze to it.

Aroma

The most immediate note is the brandy, without doubt. It escapes the glass promptly and nearly overwhelms the nose. Underneath this I get notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. I also recognize notes of a malt-driven base.

Taste

There’s a lot going on here! I’m greeted by an immediate spike of brandy and oak. It’s strong but it does well to quickly set the stage for a plethora of pumpkin spicing. The spice bill follows the nose with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, all of which harmoniously cooperate with a malt-driven base. It’s a sweet, and rich foundation. As I move to the back, I get a resurrected boost of brandy and oak. The spices also increase, making for a surprisingly balanced finish of pumpkin, spice and booze. The aftertaste is buttery, saturated with brandy and oak with an undertone of pumpkin spice.

Mouthfeel

This is a thick-bodied beer with mild carbonation at best. It’s silky, semi-dry and leaves the palate tingling, thanks to the mixture of booze and spices.

Overall

This is a well-balanced, complex option that does well to deliver a bold but engaging flavor. While all the ingredients (from vanilla to the brandy) are quite strong, they never overwhelm one another. The brandy barrel character provides a perfect supplement to pumpkin and spice, and the pumpkin and vanilla in particular are present the entire time. However what I find most impressive is it’s ability to still, somehow, feel like a lager-rooted experience. Neither the pumpkin and spice nor the emphasized aging character would be possible without a brilliant base. This is a must try for those looking for the higher ABV in their pumpkin beer.

4.0