This pours a darker amber color that showcases phenomenal clarity and ruby red hues at its base when under good light. It produces two fingers of frothy, off-white head and indicates great retention with signs of intricate lacing to come.
Tingling the nose first are notes of cocoa and pepper. Beneath these are signs of mild spicing including a phenolic nutmeg and hint of cinnamon. It smells somewhat sweet, definitely spicy and as if I’m about to endure quite a complex experience. Lastly, I get very faint notes of pumpkin mixing in and out of the aroma.
As the nose predicted, I’m greeted by an strong taste of cocoa up front. It leads the charge as the richest ingredient on top of an equally rich foundation. The spice profile seems to consist of nutmeg and allspice, yes, but also of pepper. To my surprise and delight, this pepper aspect is not a hot bomb like one might expect. As I transition, it remains chocolatey and allows for faint notes of vegetal pumpkin and sugar to quickly surface. However these are just as quick to exit. Entering the finish, the cocoa and pepper coat the palate and lead me to a finish that is defined by mild pepper, alcohol and the faintest notes of gourd. This is a deep and malty flavor all around, but one with many enjoyable aspects.
This is a medium-bodied beer with mild carbonation. Considering its ABV I would have expected either a bit more warmth or bite to it, but the palate is distracted most by the cocoa and pepper which add a nice texture. It’s a smooth and surprisingly soft sensation all together.
If this had just a little more pumpkin to it, it’d easily be among the top options out there. It’s a dynamic, decently complex and overly engaging flavor that can be enjoyed by such a variety of palates. The distinct pepper addition is extremely well-balanced while the cocoa and base character mend well to produce a solid structure. I’m most impressed by the leveling of these characteristics. However, it really could use more of an autumnal character, either by spice or natural pumpkin. Nevertheless, it’s a unique and enjoyable take on the pumpkin ale. This is as good an alternative to your average pumpkin ale as any.