Sean Lightholder’s Pumpkin Ales: Guest Post, 3 Beers


Shipyard produced two pumpkin beer this year. In an earlier post I reviewed their imperial
pumpkin ale. Pumpkin head, their “regular” pumpkin “ale with natural flavor added” is the
16th of the 2014 pumpkin beer I’ve reviewed.
Let’s just get it right out: after a few sips, this beer was poured down the drain. It smelled
of stale, bad, beer and a horrible sour, ester­y weirdness grappled with a very ill­advised
dose of (what tasted like) cinnamon water for control of my tastebuds. There was no
pumpkin. Oh how I wish there had been no beer.

While I applaud the presence of Paul Revere, er, Icabod Crane, er, the headless
horseman on their label I cannot recommend you drink this beer.


Coors’ fake craft brew company “Blue Moon” is the next in our lineup of 2014 pumpkin
beer with their Harvest Pumpkin Ale.
I have to say, the only thing classier than pretending to be a craft brewery is a twist­off
bottle cap. Glancing apologetically at my collection of bottle openers, I reluctantly
wrenched open the first “extra fancy” (i.e., Blue Moon) Coors beer cap and poured it into
glass. It smelled good. Definite pumpkin aromas with some clove and spice wafted up. As
the beer crested my tongue a maltiness began…and then suddenly went all wrong. A
funny chemical taste and mild sourness gasped into being and then faded away. As I let
the drink warm, it got worse. There was an odd viscousness to the beer I didn’t
recognize…but mostly, it just didn’t taste very good. I was surprised to find it smelled nice
and also that the flaws evident in this beer were very different from some of the actual
craft brews with flaws. What kind of issues do you have when you make beer at the scale
of the largest single­site brewery on the planet? I honestly don’t know. But, if I’m going to
drink small­batch craft beer, I’ll do that and if I’m going to drink Coors, I think I’ll stick to
Coors and not bother with their bizarre attempt to pretend to be a craft brewery.
This is a good beer to drink if you don’t actually like craft beer, but feel like maybe you’re
supposed to.


Anheiser­Busch’s fake craft brew company “Shock Top” is eighteenth in our series of pumpkin beer with their Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat: A Belgian­style wheat ale brewed with pumpkin and spices.I have to admit to a controversial distaste for Belgian yeast. I also (perhaps less controversially) dislike wheat beer. Combining Belgian yeast with a wheat beer and then have it made by Budweiser sounded abysmal. Throwing in a “low calorie” and a “with pomegranate and acai berries” could be the only way to make it worse. Nevertheless, in the name of Simon Says I persisted, twisting off the cap and reluctantly decanting the straw­colored product into a glass.

The first thing I noticed dipping my nose over the glass was an almost odorless beer; no spice, no hop aroma. Then, sipping, an absolute lack of pumpkin or spice flavors. Surprisingly, the gamey Belgian yeast flavor one would expect from a Belgian beer was also absent. Continuing to surprise me, the slick viscosity of wheat one expects from awheat beer….also missing. Swallowing, I was surprised to find a remarkably clean,vaguely malty palate with no discernible aftertaste. The beer was cold, the weather was hot, I was eating salty snacks and I finished the glass without noticing what I was doing. It tasted like…nothing. Absolutely nothing. This may be the most complicated presentation for a tasteless beer I’ve ever seen. This would be the perfect beer to buy if you like regular Budweiser, but you prefer to pay a bit more when doing so.

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0 Responses to Sean Lightholder’s Pumpkin Ales: Guest Post, 3 Beers

  1. simon682 says:

    Wonderful reviewing. Had me smilingly engaged throughout but left a bolt of out loud laughter for the end. (ps in my drinking days I shared your lack of enthusiasm for wheat beer and thought it must be just me)

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