So pumpkin season continues rolling in on us. Whereas such typically inspires within me an instinct to crack jokes about basic bitches with Starbucks pumpkin spiced lattes and the like, this season is actually proving to be a bit different for me. Just as with last year, it does seem as though brewers are seeking to do more than simply ram as much pumpkin flavoring as they can into whatever they’re making and instead are playing with the flavor as a note or aspect to the beers themselves.
Of this sort of trend, I approve. Thus do we now come to one of the more trustworthy breweries in respect to quality of releases, Ballast Point. Known preeminently for their Sculpin IPA and the various forms such takes, this Pumpkin Down ale is itself a bit of a divergence from such, being a Scottish style ale with pumpkin added to it. What exactly they mean by ‘Scottish ale’ has yet to be seen, but from the depth of color presented so far, I am rather optimistic.
The brew presents with a rather dark and almost stormy looking color and body. Dark to the point of being opaque, it does not attack one with any exuberant foam upon a pour and settles rather nicely and rather quickly. To the nose, the nature of the beast with its pumpkin flavoring and added seasonal spices comes through clear as day.
Moving on from this obvious nose portion, we come next to the sip. Within it, the pumpkin is front and center, offering up the pumpkin pie style flavoring one expects from such a beer, however doing so in what may be one of the better chosen ale bases throughout the plethora of pumpkin offerings available this season. Sipping on this, the darkness to the body makes a sudden kind of sense as this Scottish style ale, similar to that of Innis & Gunn holds the flavors rather nicely, offering up an altogether weighty and impressive drinking experience.
Unlike some crisper, lighter fare, this Pumpkin Down seems to take the pumpkin flavoring and cradle it in an ale that while heavier than a lager or such, is still lighter than even a double bock, lending it the texture of a brown or amber ale, while allowing it to stretch its legs in respect to the underlying flavors themselves. Within this then, the pumpkin and autumnal spices on offer here play well with the slightly malty, slightly bitter body of the brew itself, without any of the flavors necessarily competing too strongly against any others. At 5.8% ABV, it is weighty enough to notice in comparison to perhaps a session ale, but not so intense that one should worry about too much effect in too short a time. If nothing else, the flavors prevent chugging rather well in their own regards.
So to Ballast Point, to everyone’s favorite orange gourd and of course to you, I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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