Beer Review 0240: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Weyerbacher Brewing Company is located in Easton, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1995 by husband/wife Dan and Sue Weirback, the original idea came to the pair as they vacationed in Vermont in 1993. While there, they toured a small brewery ran out of the basement of an old mill; Dan, who was an avid home brewer at that time, started to think maybe the beer business was calling his name.

Upon opening, the brewery took what they admittedly considered a wrong step: they tried to primarily brew mainstream beers using very common styles, like Pale Ale or Extra Strong Bitter, completely eschewing creativity. It took two years for Weyerbacher to really knock people off their feet with a Raspberry Imperial Stout, a recipe crafted by Dan and considered an extreme brew. This was a beer that stood out and finally people took notice — the company decided to change direction and only make full-flavored, high quality beers for discerning customers.

Weyerbacher’s stab at a pumpkin beer takes the high alcohol, Imperial road, coming in at 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) and is brewed using pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and clove. The company says its pumpkin ale is more “caramelly and pumpkiny” than competitors.

One note about this beer: I know people really hammer these pumpkin ales for coming to the market early. I am one of those people — personally, I will not drink pumpkin beer until September, even though it shows up on shelves in July. It should be noted that this beer was bottled on June 27, 2012 — a full two months before normal acceptability of pumpkin beer.

This pumpkin beer poured a small head, quite fizzy and fast diminishing. The liquid itself was a dark amber color that took on red highlights when held to the light. Body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and there was no lacing to report.

Do you like Big Red chewing gum? If you have a bottle of this beer and expect to enjoy it, I sure hope you do. That’s pretty much the entire aromatic picture — huge cinnamon note, that is exactly like Big Red brand gum, mixed with some nutmeg and clove. The scent is all spice, no pumpkin, and nothing you’d typically find in a beer.

On the sip, there’s a bit of creamy pumpkin up front…and…CINNAMON BLAST! That tiny bit of pumpkin you get on the initial taste of this beer? You better savor it, because the cinnamon completely kills any other taste that could be in here. Let’s just get straight to the finish… it’s cinnamon, and like fake Valentine heart candy cinnamon, along with just a tiny bit of “beery” type flavor. And the 8% ABV is completely hidden by, you guessed it…cinnamon.

I normally avoid bad cinnamon candy, so I advise you to avoid this “pumpkin” beer. It might as well be called “High Fructose Corn Syrup Cinnamon-Flavored Ale.”

I don’t typically bash beers, because I love just about every damn one of them, but this is well below average.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, 65 points. Price: $2.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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