The leaves are starting to turn color ever-so-slightly and I received a pumpkin beer in a trade with Lee Williams from Hoptopia last week. Before I started reviewing for PHM, pumpkin beers continually received the worst possible grades in my personal notes. Often times too metallic, too much pumpkin, or just not a well crafted beer this style/type become something I stayed away from.

The beer, tasked with overcoming ill preconceived thoughts, is Smashed Pumpkin from Shipyard Brewing Co. Located in Portland, Maine I don’t see a lot of their beers. In fact, the only beers I’ve seen, and purchased for my cellar, are their Barleywine and Imperial Porter. So, I’m thankful to Lee for a seasonal brew from a brewery I don’t see much of.

Brewer Alan Pugsley produces four beers (this being one) for his Signature Series. It is essentially an amped-up version of their Pumpkinhead Ale that only comes in at 5.1% abv. Utilizing the same ingredients he blends Pale, light Munich, and Wheat malts with Willamette and Hallertau hops to create a backdrop for the addition of a blend formulated of pumpkin and spices after the kettle (Thanks to Alan for that information).

The beer itself is a wonderful light bronze color that fades into gold at the sides. There is a minor head that fade, but bubbles are present in this clear beauty. When I took a quick sniff this beer reminded me of Thanksgiving Day when my mom would bust out the freshly baked pumpkin pie. Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, hazelnut, and obviously pumpkin came to the forefront. The malts gave depth what seemed to be a light sweet caramel aroma. The abv is hidden well, but you can tell it has some legs.

I drank 3/4th of the glass in record time as the aromas mentioned above won over my taste buds. In Illinois we are no stranger to pumpkins as town/city of Morton is the pumpkin capital of the world. I would argue that this beer is actually better than eating pumpkin pie. Loads of malty flavor are complimented by an amazing array of spices. It finishes dry due to the abv and what Mr. Pugsley notes as, “the natural tannin in the pumpkin.”

Nothing about this beer was below an exceptional. It is THE best pumpkin beer I had to date (and I’ve had a few). No off flavors and crafted well, I’d sip on this beer for the entire Fall season.