Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Avery Review #4 - Avery Rumpkin

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Oct. 24, 2011

As some of you may have seen on the blog earlier this week, Emily and I made it out to Avery for Rumpkin Release Day back on the 15th of this month.  We arrived a little before 3:00 in the afternoon and were pretty close to the front of the line.  At first we felt a little silly for getting there so early before the 5:00 PM release, but we quickly learned why we certainly had made the right choice.

For starters, it was an absolutely perfect Saturday afternoon here in Boulder.  It was about 78 degrees and the clouds were few and far between.  The tasting room and patio were jam packed with regular brewery-goers.  After grabbing a couple bales of hay to sit on and arranging our stuff I walked into the tasting room to grab a beer.  It was so busy that the whole process took me about 15 minutes.  When I came back out with beers in hand, though, the guys next to us let us in on the secret – people in line for Rumpkin didn’t have to wait in line for beer now.

Sure enough, they had the barrel room open and had a mini bar set up with ten taps plus all of Avery’s canned beer was being sold for $2 each.  I did not wait for another beer the rest of the afternoon.  On top of cheap and easy beer, the line-waiters had exclusive access to some of the tastiest turkey legs I’ve ever had.  They were braised in Avery’s White Rascal and then spiced with the Rumpkin spices.  Amazing. 

Regardless of whether or not we were there to early, it was worth it to both of us to wait a couple of hours in order to buy two full six-packs of Avery’s Rumpkin.  Last March, while visiting Boulder, Emily and I stopped at the Tasting Room.  We were lucky enough to try a random batch of Rumpkin that, until that point, had been set aside for a rainy day.  We were both impressed, but they were only offering 4 oz. tasters of it.  When GABF rolled around this year I was able to sneak over to the brewery for a few minutes and get a single 4oz. pour.  Then, the day of the release, we split two bottles with four or five other people, leaving us a precious few ounces a piece.  Finally, though, a few nights ago I was able to sit down with a full bottle and write a proper review for an actual, no-foolin’, full bottle of Rumpkin.  Here’s what I found:   

Location: Avery Tap Room
Cost: $10
ABV: 15.9%
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: Rum Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.97 – Very Good
My Beer Advocate Rating: A+/4.68 – World Class
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 34
Brewery Description: NA
Bottled On: October 5, 2011

My Avery Rumpkin waiting to be poured
APPEARANCE:  (3.5 out of 5) It doesn’t look like much; in fact, it actually resembles a run of the mill Double IPA - deep copper, with a thin, wispy head that dissipates quickly leaving a ring of foam around the edges of the glass.  A little mound of bubbles clings to life smack in the middle created by the geyser of bubbles shooting up from the bottom.  This is a very unassuming beer for what I know is about to hit my palate and my nose.

SMELL:  (4 out of 5) Brown sugar, dark rum (and yes, it is Gosling’s that I can specifically taste, but then again it is my favorite rum) and pumpkin, make up the aroma in that order.  Additionally, the Rumpkin has some lingering aromas of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. 

TASTE:  (5 out of 5) Wow.  The Dark and Stormy (one part Gosling’s Ginger Beer, one part Gosling’s Dark Rum with a lime garnish) has long been my absolute favorite cocktail and this is a Dark and Stormy, in beer form, with a bit of pumpkin added.  The big, sweet, sugary rum and pumpkin are first to hit the palate, but the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon quickly move to the forefront.  The pumpkin and sugar linger on the palate towards the finish and through to the aftertaste.  To quote Homer Simpson “sweet merciful crap” this is an exceptionally delicious beer.  It cannot be improved for a pumpkin beer. 

Going back to the Dark and Stormy, I’ve always described it as a molasses cookie in cocktail form.  Well, now I’ll be describing the Rumpkin as a pumpkin molasses cookie in beer form.  By the way, there is something that is completely lacking here and that is any heat at all from the high ABV.  It’s pretty spectacularly disguised by everything else that is going on in the Rumpkin, although that makes it quite a dangerous brew.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) Smooth and a bit oily.  Most of the sip is very sweet and sticky, but the finish is nice, dry and almost palate cleansing.  The richness and big, bold flavors are all felt, but they do not punish the palate on the way down.  This could have easily been far too sweet and cloying, but it stays refined with just the right touch of sugary goodness.

OVERALL:  (5 out of 5) As I mentioned above, as far as pumpkin ales go the Rumpkin cannot get any better.  As far as a barrel aged beers go it also cannot get much better.  This is what happens when one of the world’s better breweries happens to have access to some of the world’s greatest ingredients, in particular, Gosling’s Rum barrels.  The Rumpkin is one of those few limited, seasonal beers that is absolutely and completely worth all the hype. 

Craft beer drinkers have become very passionate about their favorite pumpkin beers over the past couple of years, and I know there are some great ones out there, but I have to say that I’ll be absolutely shocked if I ever come across one that is better than this. 

DRAWBACKS:  The only real drawback for me here is the appearance.  There is nothing wrong with it at all, but the look of this beer does not immediately give the drinker the impression that he or she is about to have one of the best beers out there.  Also, if I am going to get nitpicky, and I will, the nose could be stronger.  It is fantastic, but I love those beers that fill the room with aroma the instant they are open.  

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