Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter

Redhook Ale Brewery

Appearance

This pours a nearly black color with faint hues of dark brown under bright light. This is one of the darkest pumpkin beers year after year. It produces less than a finger of foamy, tan-colored head that dissipates with no sign of lacing to come. The surface stays awake but just barely.

Aroma

The immediate and most prominent aspect of the smell is a burnt wood character. It’s smoky, somewhat rusty and produces faint notes of a dark fruit. The spice bill, though somewhat hard to find, seems to be made of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. There’s also a chance of molasses mixed in to tickle the nose.

Taste

As you’d expect from a Porter, this pumpkin option produces a dark, oddly intriguing take on the style. It’s got a strong porter flavor from front to back, accented by distant but enjoyable notes of pumpkin and fruit. It’s smoky and reminiscent of the damp, burnt smell of a camp fire the morning after. I get notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, fruit and pumpkin up front. There’s even perhaps a hidden layer of either chocolate or molasses mixed in (a bit of a maple flavor). Though these are masked by the base, it (or they) distinctly pair with a squashy pumpkin which makes for quite the unique flavor. The back is more the same but with a heavier emphasis on the smoky foundation rather than the spices. It’s mostly balanced and produces a unique dynamic not often found in pumpkin beer.

Mouthfeel

This is a medium-bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The carbonation and spices make for a light texture on the palate. It’s actually a bit light feeling for a Porter, but this only increases its drinkability.

Overall

Once again, this is one of the more unique pumpkin flavors of the season. The difference this time is the ability to clearly discern the complexity of the option rather than focus on the lack of pumpkin. Also notable this year is its balance – something I’ve struggled with in the past with this one. It’s ingredients play well with one another and the sensation it provides is vivid – something worth applauding. Its smoky, woody, naturally burnt character oddly provides a great stage for the pumpkin, its supporting staples and the added maple qualities. While I do wish there was a bit more natural pumpkin showcased, I’m impressed with its ability to completely distract me from such a complaint.

3.5