Beer Review 0505: New Belgium Pumpkick Pumpkin Ale

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Everyone Else Is Doing it, So Why Can’t We? Yeah, it’s the title of a Cranberries album, of which this beer contains…

Snapping out of that musical kismet — new from New Belgium for the fall season is their take on a Pumpkin Ale. Pumpkick is a 6% ABV (alcohol by volume) pumpkin beer brewed with pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, lemongrass, and cranberry juice.

New Belgium began production in 1991 after Jeff Lebesch biked through Europe and was inspired by all of the good beer over there. Upon returning, he started New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado; they became the first brewery to be powered by wind, showing they have an environmental conscience — and they offer ownership stake to anyone that has been employed by the brewery for one year.

Jeff’s wife, Kim Jordan, is New Belgium’s CEO. She was the company’s first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer, and financial planner. Whew! Today, New Belgium are about to expand to a second facility on the east coast, in Asheville, North Carolina. They were notably absent from the pumpkin beer territory until this year.

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The pour made a small, creamy head that fast disappeared. The beer was a nice golden-orange in color, perfect for Halloween — the body was clear, free of particles and sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind thin but solid sheets of foam. It’s a very nice looking brew.

On the nose, it has everything contained within the ingredient list on the side of the bottle. The spices are dominantly nutmeg and allspice, with small notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, and just a smidgen of tartness provided by the cranberry juice. There’s a light bready malt, but otherwise typical beer ingredients are masked by the heavy spices. And when I say there’s just a hint of cranberry, that’s a very minor, small hint — which does add some intrigue to the beer.

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And the taste very much follows what’s written above — it’s heavy on the nutmeg and allspice, then hits a small but noticeably dry, tart edge. To my palate, the lemongrass is a little more prominent than the cranberry juice, but don’t go in expecting anything more than a very mild dose of tart. On the finish, we’ve got the rest of the experience, some pumpkin, cinnamon, and another hit of nutmeg. While spiced heavily, the finish is clean, if a little dry. Pumpkick is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

While this offering from New Belgium is unique in the fact that it has cranberry juice in it, it doesn’t push any boundaries when it comes to Pumpkin Ale. Contained within the bottle is a solid, decent, pumpkin beer that has a high drinkability despite being heavily spiced.

New Belgium Pumpkick Pumpkin Ale, 87 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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