This pours a bright yellow color and produces a very small, white head. This head dissipates quickly and leaves behind very little lacing. However the mild carbonation does persist by providing a continuous, thin membrane of interest on the surface. Most noticeable is the body’s extreme clarity.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and a bit of sugary vanilla tend to encompass most of the aroma at the nose. It’s quite herby and blatantly dependent on spices for interest at the nose. It’s slight earthy smell provides a minor sense of natural pumpkin.
As expected, this beer is heavy on the spices from beginning to end. Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and sugar all immediately swarm the palate up front. This gives way to a sugary back end that showcases minor emphasis on natural pumpkin. The pumpkin flavor is clearly concocted by the spice profile instead of reliance on natural pumpkin. The finish is lightly toasted and really sweet.
This has a lighter body and a sharp sensation on the tongue due to the prominent spice profile. Mild carbonation further emphasizes the play on the tongue. In the end the mouth is left feeling wet and lightly injected with sugar.
Pumpkinhead is always one of the first pumpkin options to hit the shelves, especially in the northeast. While it’s never one of the better pumpkin beers, it’s one of the better transitional beers for the change of seasons. It’s easy to drink and not complex. It’s sweet and smooth. However it’s artificial tasting. Yet Shipyard doesn’t shy away from it’s artificial character. Instead, it embraces it, marketing it as a spiced option and one best enjoyed with a cinnamon rim. For this reason, and because this year’s balance between sugar and spice is commendable, I’ll certainly drink a Pumpkinhead if it’s handed to me. Beyond that, I appreciate their positioning and purpose in the field. I just don’t know if it’ll ever be comparable to the more elite pumpkin options out there.