Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saranac Pumpkin Ale (2008)


4.2
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - APR 15, 2010
I’m not an expert on pumpkin beers. the first one I ever had drank like a brown ale with pumpkin flavoring, in my mind. However, in the instance of Saranac Pumpkin Ale, I can detect a wholly authentic flavor and a more refined craft beer – which makes me appreciate it all the more.

POUR, COLOR AND AROMA

I’ve tried many beers over the years, but it’s rare I can honestly describe a beer as being brown in color, but Saranac Pumpkin Ale finally takes the cake. It is a medium shade of brown with the slightest addition of dark red and orange hues. It has a crystal-clear complexion with quite a lot of carbonation evident.

The beer pours extremely smooth and forms a perfectly-proportioned, off-white, foamy head. The head puts up a good fight as it never completely dissipates and leaves significant lacing on the glass.

The aroma is a potpourri of classic dark ale spices: clove, vanilla and of course pumpkin. Saranac should market this fragrance as a scented candle.

TASTE

My initial reaction to Saranac Pumpkin Ale was similar to my reaction of eating a pie made with real mashed pumpkin instead of that canned stuff: “Oh, so this is what it’s supposed to taste like!”

Since this beer is marketed as a pumpkin ale, it’s fair to wonder if it’s gimmicky. I suppose one could make the case for it, but pumpkin-themed ales are much more common than cherry or raspberry-flavored summer beers. This beer has an all-natural taste to it. The pumpkin is evident, but it’s actually overshadowed by the taste of clove and vanilla. It’s also very sweet, but doesn’t taste sugary, per se. If I had the option, I might choose a bottle of Saranac Pumpkin Ale over a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert.

FINISH
Dark ales tend to be full-flavored and yet the majority of them finish as smooth as juice. Saranac Pumpkin Ale isn’t quite that easy to finish, but it’s in no way difficult except to the lightest of lightweights. Since this is one of the spiciest beers I’ve ever drank, it’s no surprise it has a bit of a bite to its finish.

BODY

I wasn’t able to find out how many calories are contained within a 12oz bottle of Saranac Pumpkin Ale, but I’d take an educated guess and say it’s between 120 and 140. This is a medium-bodied beer that doesn’t fill you up like many of the “Oktoberfest” brews it’s competing with. Its weight is made even lighter when you consider it is 5.4% ABV, but it doesn’t drink nearly as strong.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With the autumn seasonal beer market in full swing, I’d definitely have to recommend Saranac Pumpkin Ale as a true contender. Its taste is great (not to mention authentic), and it won’t weigh you down. Lightweights might not be prone to enjoy it easily, but considering its drinker-friendly chemistry, I’m sure they’ll come around.

Grade: 9/10