Beer of the Week: Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

Categories: Beer Beer Beer
Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

It's been a few weeks since we've done a Beer of the Week, so I thought I'd come back with something that's in heavy rotation this time of year: pumpkin beer.

People order pumpkin beer by the caseload whenever it's in season, which is usually from August to
December. I don't know why pumpkin, of all things, tends to sell so much better than other "flavored" beers, but there are a ton of varieties on the market now. Dogfish Head, Blue Moon, Brooklyn, Saranac, and more all brew seasonal pumpkin beers. Many can be found in grocery stores and even convenience stores.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is one such widely available pumpkin brew. You can find it in Publix -- at the store by my house, a big endcap was devoted just to it. A six-pack will run you around $8.50. Is it worth it?

Well, for the most part, yes. What you taste most in Pumpkinhead is spice, specifically nutmeg and cinnamon and other "pumpkin pie"-type spices. If you're craving a strong pumpkin aroma, you won't find it. The beer just isn't that malty, and the actual flavor of pumpkin is not that far forward. That is probably a good thing for most casual beer drinkers, though, who probably wouldn't enjoy a supermalty, superpumpkiny brew. As it is, Pumpkinhead is very drinkable, leaving a slightly spicy tingle and gingerbread-like aftertaste. You can knock a few back easily and not worry about being too tipsy either.

Shipyard makes an "Imperial" pumpkin ale too. It's called Smashed Pumpkin and clocks in at 9 percent alcohol. You won't find that in the grocery store -- just specialty beer stores like Total Wine. If you're looking for stronger pumpkin flavor, you may want to check that out instead. But for an easy-drinking seasonal brew, Pumpkinhead will work just fine.

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