Now this is what I’m taking about. A little beer ingenuity goes a long way, apparently.
For all the pumpkin beers I’ve had – and there have been many – I believe Fermentation without Representation is the first that has not followed the typical spiced amber/brown ale route as its base beer. Epic Brewing, in collaboration with DC Brau, used an imperial porter as the base of this beer, which instills a great roasted malt backbone to pair with sweet pumpkin. It’s got a 85 on Beer Advocate.
When it comes to this beer, don’t let the “imperial” tag frighten you. At 8 percent ABV, the kick isn’t a lot and not really detectable until you get through all the other great flavors. It’s worth it.
Hit the jump for my lovingly remembered notes of this great beer.
The midnight black pour immediately allows for a sweet and roasted pumpkin aroma to bounce off the porter. I imagine the roasted character shares some of the smell with the porter itself, which comes off as thick bodied full of caramel – once again something probably due to the wonderful combination of porter and pumpkin.
As those flavors continue to mix, the booze tries to fight through a bit, but can’t get past smells of bitter honey (oxymoron?), chocolate and just a tinge of hops. This beer was brewed with Nugget, Perle and Tettnang hops, all which work to impart a kind of bitter herb and spice characteristic that was barely noticeable on the beer’s smell or aftertaste but easier to detect after I started eating a slice of pumpkin pie. All these aromas did a great job of bouncing back any alcohol smell, but by the end of the 22 ounce bottle, the booze is easier to detect, but not offensive.
… And we haven’t even got to the taste, which is at first sip dominated by that roasted, sweet pumpkin flavor. Epic and DC Brau used canned pumpkin puree for this beer, which means that’s probably what instilled the sweetness of the flavor rather than the kind of pumpkin seed notes I got from Pumple Drumkin. Most of all, the chocolate richness of the porter just mixes wonderfully with pumpkin flavor – this is a match made in beer heaven and something to try if your baking skills deem appropriate.
Unlike other pumpkin beers, the only spice I recognized was ginger – no cinnamon or nutmeg. The brewers also used vanilla bean, which thinking back to the beer makes sense to add a little extra sweetness to the brew, perhaps helping to cut some of that hop bitterness. While the mouthfeel felt a little chalky by the end of the bottle, the beer tingled my to tongue slightly with malty notes offering a nice finish.
I present my Rate That Beer sheet: