This red lager from the Hop City Brewing Company in Brampton, Ontario pours an amber-copper colour with lots of visible carbonation and a medium-sized, foamy tan coloured head that leaves some spotty lacing and settles as a collared film. Barking Squirrel Lager smells of toasted caramel malts with a floral hop quality. Fresh grains, alcohol, raisin and tree nuts also come through.
The taste of Barking Squirrel Lager is crisp and mostly dry, with a subtle nutty quality, a bread-like tone and a hint of chocolate. The finish is solidly bitter with a slight wood or scotch note. The mouthfeel is creamy with a yeast-like quality on the tongue. There is a nice pop of carbonation even at the bottom of the glass and the aftertaste is dry with a raisin-like fruity tone to it.
Hop Nouveau 2011 from Trafalgar Ales and Meads on Oakville, Ontario pours a hazy pencil yellow colour with a moderate soapy head that’s only around a few seconds, leaving no lace and only a hair thin collar. This unfiltered wet hopped American pale ale smells of old, wet grains, earth, strawberries and honey along with a slightly buttery note. This combination will be familiar to those who have tried other products from this brewery such as Elora Special Bitter.
Hop Nouveau 2011 has a very earthy and grassy taste with subtle grapefruit and caramel tones and a nice bitter finish with a grape-like note. The mouthfeel is thin with a dry, grainy and earthy character and little to no perceivable carbonation. The aftertaste is quite dry with a bit of a honey character and an oddly salty tone.
Pumking from the Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York pours a clear golden-amber colour with a scant white head that sticks around as a thin collar, but leaves no lacing behind. This strong pumpkin ale has more of a pumpkin pie aroma than any other pumpkin ale I’ve tried to date; it has a real buttery pastry tone that compliments the pumpkin and spices nicely. Freshly cut grains and honey poke through after warming.
The taste of Pumking is nicely balanced between the pumpkin and the dry, peppery spice notes. Again, a pastry-like butter flavour defines the taste and makes it distinctive amongst pumpkin ales. The finish is peppery and bitter. The mouthfeel is on the thin side with a low, but noticeable carbonation. A grainy note comes through on the tongue and the aftertaste is dry tasting, but also has a syrupy quality. Pumking is extraordinarily smooth and drinkable given its ABV.
King Goblin from the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, UK pa deep ruby colour with amber highlights and a fluffy, tan coloured, root beer-esque head that gets retained as a thin collar and leaves spotty lacing. This English strong ale smells of sweet, toasted caramel malts and a light, grape-like fruit note reminiscent of white wine. Light chocolate, fresh grains and pungent floral hops can also be detected.
The taste of King Goblin starts off bitter then reveals notes of ripened fruits, roasted bread-like malts and a peppery spiciness and then finishes with a bitter brewed tea-like taste. The mouthfeel is pretty heavy and malty overall, but the ale still pops on the tongue thanks to a medium carbonation and long-lasting collar. The aftertaste is clean and dry with a bitter chocolate tone.
This strong pumpkin ale from the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine pours a hazy golden-copper colour with a moderate white head that burns off quickly, leaving a small collar and almost no lace behind. Smashed Pumpkin has a syrupy and noticeably boozy aroma with notes of wet grain, pumpkin, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. The beer takes on a sharp white wine-like smell as it warms.
The taste of Smashed Pumpkin is on the malty side with a very sweet honey tone and a hint of yeast. The pumpkin and spice flavours both rich and surprisingly balanced. The finish is quite bitter with floral, soapy and alcohol notes. This beer is full-bodied with an above average carbonation level and gives off a creamy, bready effect on the tongue. The aftertaste is dry, but syrupy and alcohol lingers on the back of the tongue and throat.