Beer Review 0244: New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

New Holland Brewing Company began life in 1997 as a two-man startup that quickly became regionally recognized for its creativity and artistry. Brewing out of Holland, Michigan, the company has a production facility and a pub. The pub also functions as a brewery and spirit distillery.

To get an idea how large (or small?) New Holland are, the brewery is distributed in 13 states, and shipped about 15,500 barrels (one barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons) in 2011.

Of course, like most breweries, they have a seasonal pumpkin beer, their Ichabod Pumpkin Ale. It is brewed with real pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and comes in at 5.2% ABV (alcohol by volume). The brewery suggests you pair this beer with chicken, root vegetables, and, naturally…pumpkin pie.

I noticed a strange statement on the corner of the label: “Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices with spices added.” Huh? Does that mean double spices? Who knows…

Pouring produced an average size, soapy head that quickly diminished to just a thin cover atop light amber/orange beer. The body was clear, free of particles and sediment (obviously filtered) and the lacing was pretty good, leaving behind small pods of suds all along the glass as I sampled.

The aromatics present your typical, average pumpkin beer — heavily spiced, with cinnamon and nutmeg up front, but there is some real pumpkin here, and a nice base of bread-like and caramel malt. And although New Holland don’t say they use it specifically, I detected some clove.

Tasting, there was a heavy amount of spice on the front, cinnamon and nutmeg. Middle of the taste offered some toasty malts, before finishing with a light bitterness and loads of nutmeg. There’s no pumpkin to be found on the palate, with the exception of the creamy feel when the beer was swirled around the tongue.

Ichabod is more bitter than most pumpkin ales, and the lack of pumpkin flavor is a bit worrisome — but the spice isn’t over the top, and the fact you can actually taste a little bit of malt is a welcome change to me. Not a bad pumpkin beer, but not exceptional, either.

New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, 81 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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