3.5AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
It’s rare that craft breweries play up their beers’ drinkability since craft beer drinkers don’t usually worry about it in the first place (I know I don’t). In the case of Southampton Pumpkin Ale, the brewery describes it as a “best of both worlds” kind of beer – claiming to have a complex palate that’s “deliciously quaffable.” While it was indeed an easy beer to drink, I found much to be desired in the palate.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I was pleasantly surprised when I poured this beer into my pint glass since it has one of the brightest orange bodies I’ve ever seen. Like a pumpkin soda it was bristling with carbonation bubbles and produced a thick, white, foamy head (which, unfortunately, dissolved quickly and left virtually no lacing on the glass). The aroma was also inviting with a familiar bouquet of fall spices, although a generic “beer smell” was detectable (adjuncts?).
What separates Southampton Pumpkin Ale from every other pumpkin beer I’ve tried is the order in which the flavors are delivered. Immediately I am greeted with the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla which are all distinguishable but surprisingly mild. On the finish I get a surprisingly thin, watery palate and a bit of grainy aftertaste.
This beer is a bit confusing since the spices are so clearly present and yet they seem rather mild. However, according to the description on the back of the bottle this seems to be the intention as it actually indicates that the beer “is not over-the-top with spices.” A mild palate can be a good thing, but when it’s washed away as quickly as it is here it’s a little disappointing since you can’t savor it.
What the beer lacks in flavor intensity it makes up for in drinkability. Spicy beers tend to dance on the palate, but Southampton Pumpkin Ale slides across the palate like a bobsled. A watery composition is noticeable, although it makes drinking it a breeze. This is actually a little impressive considering the beer has a potency of 5.5% ABV, but has the weight of a beer with the word “light” in its name. Quite frankly, I think this would make a fantastic alternative to one those brews.
Occasionally beers throw me for a loop and Southampton Pumpkin Ale certainly leaves me scratching my head. On one hand it is fairly tasty and complex, but on the other it’s so mild and watery it’s difficult to appreciate. I think I might actually have to criticize this beer for being too smooth!