Ayinger Celebrator from Brauerei Aying (Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG) in Germany pours a deep chestnut-ruby colour with amber highlights around the edges when held up to light and a small tan coloured head that gets retained as a thin, but frothy collar without leaving much lacing. This doppelbock has a rich and complex malty aroma with a strong oak tone. Dark fruits, chocolate, coffee and molasses can all be found and a hint of alcohol comes out as you make your way through the glass.
The taste of Ayinger Celebrator follows the aroma and is equally rich and complex. Dark fruits, chocolate, sweet malts, roasted grains, oak and a hint of vanilla are all present before a bitter and herbal finish takes over. The mouthfeel is creamy and hearty with a low-medium carbonation and a yeasty sensation on the tongue. The aftertaste is dry with oak and fruit tones. This heavy beer is surprisingly drinkable, with little trace of alcohol aside from a pleasant warming effect.
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.
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.
This strong seasonal ale from the Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario pours a copper colour with amber highlights around the edges of the glass and has the appearance of wavy lines on a hot road. A moderate tan coloured head burns off quickly, leaving a bit of lace and a thin collar behind. The aroma of Muskoka Harvest Ale is dry in nature. The beer smells of fresh grains and grasses, caramel malts, baker’s chocolate and it has a peppery spiciness to it. A sweet, honeydew-like fruity note and a hint of alcohol appear as it warms.
Muskoka Harvest Ale tastes like dark or toasted malts, a dark fruit like raisin or date and it’s highlighted with a note that reminds me of a buttered bran muffin. The ale has a very crisp and bitter finish with a hint of grapefruit and there is little trace of alcohol in the taste, but there is a definite warming effect. The beer has a medium body with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. There is a yeasty pop on the tongue and the aftertaste is dry, but with an oily quality and a peppery bite.
Dunkel Buck from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario pours a hazy nut brown colour with a rusty orange tone around the edges. A very frothy, tan-coloured head takes a while to burn off, leaving minimal lacing behind and a nice, thick collar and film.
This dark, strong and unfiltered German ale has strong fruit tones in its smell. Banana and bubble gum notes are joined by a plum or cherry-like smell and a hint of cloves. A honey-like sweetness and alcohol come though after warming.
The taste of Dunkel Buck follow suit with a slightly sweet, fatty banana flavour taking the lead. The beer is backed by a toasted wheat taste and a cocoa or roasted baker’s chocolate tone that fills out the body and lends a nice bitterness to the finish. The mouthfeel is quite creamy thanks to the long-lasting collar and sediment, while managing to not come off as too thick.
There is a low carbonation but a mild prickly sensation occurs on the tongue. The aftertaste is dry and tart, with a peppery note and the warming effects of the alcohol coming through on the back of the tongue and throat.