Brew Review

Beer Review – Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale


Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

Recently, G-LO had posted about the Yunkin’ Punkin’ Ale from Manayunk Brewing Co. In the comments, the Alemonger had suggested that the only two pumpkin beers worth a try were Southern Tier’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. Since we had already tried the Pumking, I went out and picked up a bottle of the Smashed Pumpkin. Shipyard Brewing Company, located in Portland, owns Shipyard, Sea Dog and Casco Bay and bottles for Gritty McDuff’s. They are the largest brewer in Maine, the fourth largest microbrewer in New England and the 15th largest microbrewer in the U.S. They brew nine beers in a regular line-up, five seasonal beers and the Pugsley’s Signature Series of seasonal beers (of which the Smashed Pumpkin is one). Shipyard also produces a line of soda marketed under the name Capt’n Eli’s Soda.

Here is what Shipyard has to say about their Smashed Pumpkin:

Smashed Pumpkin is a big-bodied beer with a light coppery orange color and pleasing aroma of pumpkin and nutmeg. Pale Ale, Wheat and Light Munich Malts combine with the natural tannin in pumpkin and the delicate spiciness of hops to balance the sweetness of the fruit.

We found the Smashed Pumpkin to be…

  • Appearance: Clear orange with zero head retention or lacing.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Malty, with a heavy concentration of juice and hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
    • G-LO: Brown sugar, orange zest, nutmeg and allspice. Quite sweet overall
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Cold, it was a little flat and a little thin. As it warmed, there was much more of a fizzy pumpkin pie. The taste was not as sweet as the aroma would have suggested.
    • G-LO:  The first sip was positively dreadful and clearly boozy. But then I let it warm up a bit and I went from “Ugh!” to “Ohh!” Lightly carbonated with a touch of fizz. A wee bit of hops at the start with a light bitterness. The sweet pumpkiness kicks in with those baking spices right up front. Not over the top at all. Quite OK actually; for a pumpkin beer that is. Sweet, spicy with a pumpkin pie finish.
  • ABV: 9%

The Verdict

I would say this is the Pumking’s little brother. Not over the top and wearing the crown; just enjoying life as a royal. G-LO felt that this was not a great beer, but definitely OK as far a pumpkin beers go.

Ultimately, I think neither one of us is a big fan of the style. As a consequence, it is probably hard to review a pumpkin beer without a little inherent bias. That said, the Smashed Pumpkin while not a full-fledged, over-the-top effort like the Pumking, was a respectable effort and would certainly be worth a try if one was to endeavor to try a pumpkin beer. For our money, as the temperature drops and Autumn is upon us, I would rather move right to stouts and G-LO would probably rather skip right to whiskey.

15 replies »

  1. Hey now! While I admit that I do love my whisky, I too have a love of the Porters and Stouts. Especially when it’s as delicious as that Founder’s Porter that I had at Rattle N Hum last Thursday.

    Re: Smashed Pumpkin, I am in complete agreement. Still not a fan of Pumpkin Ales as a whole, but this one was pretty darn good. I’ll keep an eye out for it on tap. Bravo on the review!

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  2. This seems to strike people in the same way you say – it’s in the realm of Pumking (some even dare say better … HERESAY!).

    I haven’t had this year’s brew, but I’ve always enjoyed it as one of my favorite fall regulars. I am curious as to what “natural flavor” they add to give it a little kick.

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    • I had a few friends comment that they thought the Pumking is almost too over the top and that they preferred the more subtle flavors of the Smashed Pumpkin. Of course, as heretics, they made their comments under dim lighting and while wearing disguises.

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    • I’m with you. Why make the style in the first place? However, if you are a fan of the style, I think the Smashed Pumpkin is a really good representation.

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  3. Where’s the Delorean when I need it? If I mistakenly left it in your driveway, do us both a favor and dial it back to circa 3 weeks ago – right before I said that Smashed Pumpkin was one of the Great Pumpkins. That was true based upon last year’s version which was rich, creamy, and far more flavorful than the one I poured last week. I thought something was off when it sounded more like a Coke Zero than a craft beer. Way too much carbonation. I can’t knock it for a lack of head retention because that would assume the existence of a head in the first place. Nada. Nunca. Niet. Then there was the annoyingly boozy nose and finish. If last week’s Smashed Pumpkin was my first, I’d have sooner declared it a drain pour than listed it alongside Pumking, Schlafly Pumpkin & DH Punk’n.

    Giving Shipyard the benefit of the doubt, I’m leaning towards the suspision that there was a little something lurking in the bottling line….

    Cheers!

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