This pours an amber color and produces a finger of light tan head that takes its time dissipating. The head gradually lessens to a light coating but continues to be active even after a few minutes. It has a clear body broken up by moderate carbonation.
I can smell this one from two feet away. The spices are beautifully blended to create a nearly perfect mirror of pumpkin pie. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove…they’re likely all involved and all coating the nose cooperatively. I also get sweet malt notes and a fresh pumpkin underbelly. It smells entirely like pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust.
I’m immediately greeted by one of the finer, well-tuned pumpkin flavors I’ve experienced. The pumpkin is instantly present and defined by a well-balanced mixture of puree, spices and a rather nice combination of malt and hops. The spices follow the nose with cinnamon and nutmeg at the forefront. They’re so well-balanced that it’s actually difficult to decipher one ingredient from the next. As I move to the back I pick up on a surprisingly balanced foundation. Though it’s malt heavy, it’s not overly sweet. There’s a faint sense of hops, but it’s just enough to disallow an overpowering collaboration of malt and spice that many options tend to have. The back also has a tiny but enjoyable kick of booze. The aftertaste is saturated with a fresh pumpkin flavor and just enough sweetness and spice to keep the palate totally engaged. This is the epitome of liquid pumpkin pie.
This is a medium-bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The texture is light but satisfying. It’s actually a bit more wet than I remember, but this doesn’t detract from the experience. Considering it’s ABV it’s quite easy going down.
There is no question that Whole Hog has become the standard for top tier pumpkin beer. This is one of the best examples of pumpkin pie in a glass yet again. It provides the sweetness we crave and an absurdly well-balanced marriage of pumpkin, spice and base character. The flavor is great, the feel is great and the complexity and craftsmanship nearly masks any and all points at which I usually can deduce an advantage or disadvantage. This is a beautiful dynamic. The only reach I can make in terms of a desire would be to wish that the mouthfeel had a bit more texture to it…but that’s a far reach. This is what pumpkin beer is supposed to be, and is the perfect example of nearly perfecting a pumpkin ale without relying on any uncommon ID such as caramel, coffee, vanilla, etc. Bravo!