Another one of the “Pugsley Signature Series,” the Smashed Pumpkin from Shipyard was something that I heard about through the grapevine. I’d been searching, in vain, to find a bottle of it at my favorite local beer haunts, but with no avail. The other two signature series bottles stood proudly mocking my attempt to find their pumpkin-lovin’ cousin. Then, while in Brunswick for work, I got a tip. “The Smashed Pumpkin is on tap at the Great Lost Bear in Portland. You should stop there on your way home,” I couldn’t have been happier to hear that.
The Great Lost Bear is one of those places that you cold see yourself frequenting every day just to see what’s on tap, with a bunch of friends having nothing better to do than trade stories about wild parties and embarrassing gossip.
We walked in, sat down, quickly ordered two Smashed Pumpkin and were told, “Oh, I think we just ran out of that.” Visibly dejected, my server offered to check to see if they had, in fact, run out. She came back with a smile on her face. “The beer guy just came and brought some a few minutes ago. I’ll get those right out for you.” Victory!
The Smashed Pumpkin came in a tulip glass, and I noticed on the beer list at the GLB that the Smashed pumpkin was marked with a star. According to the menu, the star meant that it was an “extreme beer with high alcohol” and I realized that I didn’t remember what the ABV was supposed to be. (It turns out it’s about 9% which isn’t too extreme for me).
The color on this was a dark mahogany/oak – a bit redder than Shipyard’s session pumpkin brew, Pumpkinhead. The head actually sprang up and stuck around for a little while, and the smell was definitely reminiscent of the Pumpkinhead. There is a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg in the aroma, giving me a clue as to what the taste would be like to come.
The taste is very nutmeg and cinnamon up front, with a definite alcohol taste at the end. I was surprised by the thin mouthfeel and overall light flavor. I was expecting something a bit more like Pumpking (Southern Tier) which was syrup-like and rich. The Smashed Pumpkin lacks the thickness and deepness I expected from the higher ABV, but the flavor grows on me after every sip. Not drying, but close, the pumpkin flavor itself is there but not center stage. Though a little less sweet than Pumpkinhead, I’d almost say that was a detriment.
On the other hand, when I had a sip of it paired with the chocolate toffee torte that was on special at the GLB – my taste buds lit up. It was the richness and the sugars from the cake that really brought out the full flavor spectrum, and I got a lot more of the pumpkin taste when layered on the taste of toffee.
This one isn’t bad, and if you’re a fan of Pumpkinhead, you may enjoy this because they are very similar in flavor profiles. However, this doesn’t make my list of my top pumpkin brews this year, despite my expectations. Also, this one will be quick to get you “smashed” as the alcohol content isn’t readily tasteable, it may be easy to drink this quickly and feel it even quicker.