October 31, 2013

Remembering... Mark of the Devil Part 3

Juan López Moctezuma's 1977 film Alucarda, a perverse gothadelic psycho-sexual romp that revels in a passionate fast burning anguish, grasped stronghold to my rapidly warping brain at the impressionable young age of fifteen. At the time my mind had become immersed in dark and lurid imagery, with my focus leaning more and more towards the blasphemous. Morbid curiosity and an affinity for horrific fantasies led my thoughts and desires to wherever they may go, but in most cases ended up fully engrossed in horror films. The allure of horror movie VHS box art back in the mid nineties was such a compelling and euphoric attraction, that I could spend hours at a time down at the video rental shops just studying each one of them.

The power of a single photograph from a horror magazine, or a screenshot from the back cover-art of a tape, can simply not be underestimated. Disturbing, provocative and unsettling images captivated me to no end. I would stare at them, visualize, and draw them for my own personal pleasure. I even dabbled in creating some VHS cover sleeves for tapes I had purchased online and/or illegally recorded. [To the left is a scan of the front cover I did for an alternative release of Alucarda, where the title "Sisters of Satan" pops up for a split second before being covered by a "Mark of the Devil 3" title card. The back and spine of the art suffered even worse 'water damage' than what is visible at the top of this glossy paper printout.] 

I originally discovered Alucarda under the title Mark of the Devil Part 3 during what I like to call my binge renting days (which coincided with my binge toking days, but preceded my binge drinking daze). These were the years where VHS was still running rampant and strong throughout the world, and DVD was only slowly starting to emerge. By this time the Horror Section of every rental shop, from mom-n-pops to Cockbusters and even some Unholywood, had seen visible signs on my nugget nectar on their product... and that's without a blacklight! There wasn't a day that I'd return a tape without renting a new one that very day, even if I had to strut like a boss down the road to the next shop, which most of the time I did... by getting driven there by my parents.

The tail end of VHS dominance due to the upcoming DVD path of destruction was indeed a sad time for horror fans, as many of the trve classics disappeared with a vengeance. Shitty used tapes with rewind damage on all the sexy parts were sold for ridiculous prices, but the crime proving to be even more despicable was that most of the tapes were either stolen by employees and owners or simply thrown into the garbage. EBAY probably didn't exist by this point or had only just started up, so you can just imagine the space saving procedures which were used to display the "new and improved" format. A basement full of expensive (yet not at this point all too rare) VHS probably seemed like a good idea at the time for some owners, but I'm thinking that a lot of them probably had wives who kept their fancy wigs and stuffed poodles down there for safe keeping. Women and their fancy wigs! Am I right fellas?

I rented Mark of the Devil Part 3 with a friend of mine named Chase, who supposedly suffered from ADHD. His mother was freakishly controlling and invasive, and forced him to eat baby food regularly. One thing I could tell right away when I first met Chase was that he was incredibly hyperactive. Or to put it more properly, he was a total and complete fucking nut. A year older than me and actually well versed in some areas that I was not at the time (such as vast exploration of heavy metal and many things that were "cool"), but aside from being a metal-head who looked like Beavis and Butthead fucked and he was the baby they had, he didn't really have a lot going for him. Chase was a tormented and demented soul, and was trying his damnedest to rebel like a motherfucker from his mom since he was scared shitless of being a lonely ass punk bitch. A task I would constantly try to help him out with, but would also ultimately fail at.

We got along like balls back then. Just two balls mingling together and swaying in the crisp, cold wind. The night in particular when I stayed over at his house I brought a bottle of vodka that I had grabbed from "The Box" (a story for another time). We chilled uncomfortably while his mother hovered throughout the kitchen and constantly opened the sliding blinds which she called a door to his room. It always took her a while to fall asleep in the chair outside of his room, so he'd eat cold Chef Boyardee Ravioli straight out of the can and masturbate to scrambled porn on the PPV channel, while I'd sit in the corner on his AOL dial-up login and contemplate suicide. It was fun. Not as fun as getting straight liquored up and watching Alucarda for the first time at midnight while eating nothing but baby food, raviolis and the occasional twinkie that is! Why this dude's mom would keep him on a restricted diet of baby food and canned raviolis, only to allow him boxes upon boxes of twinkies is totally beyond me, but what the fuck do I know!? I'm not an old psycho bitch with an invisible bloody cord dripping from my vag that's wrapped around my sixteen year old son's neck.

We rented Mark of the Devil 3 on my Hollywood Video card seeing how Chase wasn't allowed his own for being "irresponsible", even though he had never actually had a card in the first place to be irresponsible with(!) We also rented Mark of the Devil Part 4 at the same time, which turned out to be The Satanic Rites of Dracula... or Horror Rises from the Tomb... or Tombs of the Blind Dead, I can't really fucking remember which one it was. We watched that one after Alucarda and only halfway, as after the vodka kicked in we decided to go out for a middle of the night stroll throughout the empty town. As young men with mental problems, it was indeed a treat to witness the town as it slept, the lights blurring and swaying with each turn of the head. Looking back, these days I wouldn't even think it over let alone go walking around for no reason whatsoever. It's boring as shit when I think about it now, but back then it wasn't. That was adventure.

One of the many adventures me an this crazy little bastard had. And not our greatest, mind you. I kind of doubt that till this day he actually remembers this movie though. We were both especially fond of girls in black and found Tina Romero to be incredibly fucking sexy. The crusty orange stains on the front of his tidy whiteys the next morning was proof enough of that! There's no doubt though that this film did hold some sort of fiendish hypnosis over our brains as we both ended up dating goth girls just after seeing this. Of course this was around the time The Craft came out in theaters, so all of a sudden one out of every thirteen chicks in town was now a "witch". But I didn't have a problem with that shit at all, oh no. Black lipstick on my dick. Something about Mark of the Devil Part 3 that we both could instantly relate to was the fact that Alucarda was a total outcast. She's the weird one, the freak, and more importantly, the one that's "crazy".

Mark of the Devil Part 3 was a film that clutched me forcibly by the balls and never let go. I had seen movies with similar themes while growing up, such as Carrie and The Exorcist for instance, so I had already experienced blasphemous behavior, vulgarities and blood soaked revenge on the screen. But nothing had truly prepared me for the boner inducing madness that is this outlandishly arousing gem. Devil Worship! Bloody Rituals! Nudity! Orgies! Lesbianism!! By gawd, don't even get me started on the sweet, sweet lesbianism. And a Goat Head Motherfucker with a hand on each girl's titty, leading oh-so succulent flesh all the way straight to HELL. Not only was the movie just undeniably cool, but it was weird as all shit too. The bizarre music that comes booming out of fucking nowhere while Alucarda and Justine become entranced by something mysterious yet preposterously evil does the job of luring the viewer in. Add on top of that these two hot girls getting naked with the snap of the Devil's fingers and screaming for hours like god damned lunatics, and you've got yourself an instantly captivating viewing experience.

That night before laying my head down for some much deserved sleep, I reached inside of my backpack (moving aside my favorite CHERI porno mags) and grabbed a new Blank VHS tape so I could proceed to tape the shit out of the craziest movie I had ever seen. Being the nerd that I am I always had Blank VHS tapes handy, you know, just in case. At home I of course had four VCRs set up in my system for multiple taping possibilities, along with my NES and SNES. Chase had two hooked up in his room for easy taping and making compilations of his favorite x-rated scenes. Back in the day you weren't shit unless you had two fucking VCRs, and you sure as hell weren't a friend of mine if you didn't have more than one. But I digress. I think what has attracted me to this film more than anything else over the years - more than the nudity, cutting, screaming, bloody kissing, and taking delight in praising all that is evil - is its immeasurable sadness. I really get into that shit. But I've obviously grown intellectually since then, and that sort of thing appeals to me at a real profound and sentimental level. And while I could go on and on about that, I'm not going to sit here and delude myself. I think that what it all boils down to - whether you're looking at it through the eyes of an excited young teenage perv, or from the mind of the broken and sad old man that he's become - it's all about one thing: these chicks are getting naked for Satan! Awwwwwww yeahz.

October 27, 2013

Southern Tier Warlock

Southern Tier WARLOCK - Imperial stout brewed with pumpkins (2013)
Blackwater Series (Autumn Seasonal)
22 fl. oz. / $8.79 USD / 8.6% ABV

About: "Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own and also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet. Dark and mysterious, the Blackwater Series is serious about high gravity. Reanimate your senses with Warlock’s huge roasted malt character, moderate carbonation and spicy pumpkin pie aroma. Ingredients: 2 Row Pale, Caramel, Black Malt, Munich Malt / Magnum Hops, Sterling Hops / Pureed Pumpkin / Natural Flavor."

Thoughts: Here it is! The Southern Tier Warlock. A much looked forward to beer if there ever was one. Just look at that little fucker on the label there. What a sneaky little wizard. I bet this guy and the Pumking sure throw down some righteously evil parties! Speaking of the label though, I'm not all that fond of ST's newly designed labels with the U shaped dark spot and white lettering with the old art down in the left corner like that. What the hell guys!? At least Warlock could have had a huge label so I could display it side by side with the Pumking bottle I've kept. But I digress, it's about the beer so let's do this. Using my Jason glass for this one, and wishing I had a Pumking Goblet in my possession. Soon. Warlock poured a very dark muddy brown color with a chocolate milk colored head.

The first scent is that remarkable pumpkin pie crust, graham crackers, and pumpkin muffin sweetness! It smells in-fucking-credible let me tell you. It's hard to get much past that scent because that freshly baked pie is just so strong. Black malts drift in and out after a while. 

Warlock starts off sweet, full of cinnamon and nutmeg before an absolutely ruthless blast of black malts and strong, earthy and peppery hops hit. It's got a dense bitterness to it that deeply woven in the brew, so when the initial blissful sweetness and spices drown away it's a bit harsh. I've always found black malt to be particularly harsh anyhow. This kind of tastes like a Black IPA mixed with Pumking, which is pretty fucking weird. When I first heard about this beer being made the first thought I got was Choklat and Pumking mixed, but that's not the case here. Warlock is a beast unto itself. It's not too indulgent, but it still tastes great, smells awesome and is loaded with spicy tickling goodness. The main flavor is very peppery cinnamon, that graham cracker pie crust and a hint of black licorice. As the beer warms up and after a few gulps the bitterness calms down, though leaves a bit of the funky on the back of the tongue. It's a bit more herbal tasting than I would have liked but aside from that tastes great.

The mouth feel is lacking a bit for me in the stout area. It's not creamy or all that rich feeling. It's actually pretty watery feeling, leaves no trace of coating on the teeth or the inside of the mouth. The spices don't linger all that much or dry out either. There's just a soft bitterness left behind. Sorry Warlock, but Pumking cannot be dethroned!

October 25, 2013

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin (2013)
Autumn Seasonal (New)
22 fl. oz. / $7.69 USD / 10.5% ABV

About: "Last fall our brewers were improvising a new beer in our 10-barrel kettle. We had some fresh pumpkin puree leftover from a recent brew of our UFO Pumpkin, so the brewers threw that in the kettle with a bit of molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some roasted malts. It turned out to be delicious, so we thought we’d share it with everyone. - Half imperial stout, half pumpkin ale, with aromas of dried fruit, chocolate, and freshly baked pumpkin pie, this black full-bodied stout is ready to be enjoyed now or saved for a chilly fall evening."

Thoughts: Not really sure why they'd cover the picture of the pumpkin with a big ass leaf like that. Ah, this is a Stout. I guess you gotta read the fine print. This generically named brew poured a straight up dense black with quite a thin dark chocolaty tan head on top.

One of the things I was afraid of when I finally took the time to look at this bottle and noticed that it's a stout, is that the beer isn't really going to smell anything like I hope. Which I hope it smells like Pumking, a standard to hold all other pumpkin beers to. As I lean in and put my nose to the glass I am pleasantly surprised. This smells great. Cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, allspice and clove - or the usual suspects as I like to call them - are all apparent when you crack the bottle. After pouring the beer into the glass and leaning in, the sensation not only changes, but becomes more interesting. A pouncing of rich, dark fruits jump out and smack ya, followed by a rush of brown sugar and them blackstrap molasses. After a while a little bit of black licorice starts to blend in, followed by the dreaded bubblegum flavored bubblegum. Kinda fruity and weird, but interesting nonetheless. I'm going to gulp it now in hopes the original scent comes back and that bubblegum fades out.

This is some cool stuff. First gulp went through about five stages, ranging from dark and malty, to really spiced, to fruity and sweet, to slightly bitter like coffee, to dry and hazy like fallen leaves. This fucking thing is all over the damn place. I'm going to sip it for a while and then jot down some more notes...

While all the pumkiny spices flow throughout this brew, they become rather subdued in the taste department. They're definitely "felt", but the scent disappeared soon after pouring the beer, and after drinking for a while it becomes a brown sugary, malty, dark fruit flavored stout. Pumpkin ale and its essence come up heavy in belches, but on the tongue it's a lot of booze and sticky sweetness. It's really roasty, got a bit of toasted oats in there, and a nice spice blend which would be stronger if that sweet and sticky overload with a gentle tart backup wasn't so powerful. The cloves are ever present though laid back at first. Once the brew starts to warm the cloves start popping and that blackstrap molasses and black licorice builds in strength as well. I've got no problem with both of those things. I just wish the 50/50 Stout slash Pumpkin ale was a bit more of a pumpkin ale than a stout.

I think it's pretty funny that Harpoon put this beer out just before Southern Tier released Warlock, which is a similar idea of an ale. I've yet to try Warlock, but I'll be sure to compare it to this. This one is fun, but man is it some intense stuff, and not really in a good way either. It's mouth numbing due to the spice, but since you don't get a lot of the spice in the taste you don't notice it happening all that fast, and that's because the super sweet tartness and alcohol blitz just fucking assaults and distracts the senses.

October 23, 2013

Blue Hills Pumpkin Lager

Blue Hills Pumpkin Lager (2013)
Autumn Seasonal (New)
22 fl. oz. / $4.99 USD / 5.8% ABV

About: "Pumpkin Lager is the perfect treat for the Halloween season. It's loaded with pumpkin spice goodness, and super smooth for a lager."

Thoughts: I had originally thought that this was the same pumpkin lager as their previous release Stingy Jack, only with new artwork due to the "legal woes" the company experienced, and was ready to file it under that review. Only once I got into it though, I realized that this one is very different.

First off, way fucking cooler label on the bottle this time. I don't know what was up with that leprechaun last time, and on top of that they had the whole lawsuit threat over the name, when in fact they should have just gone generic and done this Evil looking pumpkin motherfucker. 

Pumpkin Lager poured a very clear, rich dark orange with a quick disappearing head.

Smells a little buttery. I'm getting a ton of buttered popcorn here... that starts to transform into cheap caramel popped corn with nuts after a while. Smells kinda like cracker jacks. But I wonder where the prize is?!

I don't remember it tasting like this before. Not at all. This shit is pretty nasty. It's way fucking worse than before, and if that's possible then yes anything is possible. This tastes like I'm drinking half a cup of I can't believe it's not butter with some Sheetrock chaser. This is probably one of the worst fucking beers I've ever drank. And yet, it's still better than Shipyard's Pumpkinhead. WTF is up with that? That's a bit harsh, well, let's just say that it's more "flavorful" of a beer. ;) Don't ask me. Everyone always talks about Shipyard's beers having a buttery taste but I never really got it. THIS SHIT on the other hand tastes like straight up fucking melted butter over some nasty ass cheesecake. It's fucking disgusting. E-Gah!

It smells like vegetable oil after drinking it for a while too. Totally gross. It's slightly sour and acidic and just bullshit. I ended up chugging this to get it out of the way so no mouth feel or any other descriptions other than my final words of don't buy this.

October 21, 2013

Rock Art Extreme Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout

Rock Art EXTREME Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, Vermont. USA.
Autumn Seasonal. 
22 fl. oz. / $5.99 USD / 8% ABV

About: "Rock Art Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout is a big stout brewed in the colonial fashion with large amounts of pumpkins and spruce tips added to the kettle for flavor and bittering qualities. The pumpkins complement the malt flavors and are used to add sugars to the mash. Whatever you do, do not think this is going to taste like pumpkin pie. For a SLOW experience, pair with BBQ venison loin, extra sharp cheddar cheese, vegetarian chili, fresh warm soft pretzel dipped in a honey mustard or grass fed beef stew."

Thoughts: Extreme! Radical!! Scrumpadoochous!!! Is that guy with the frohawk smoking a bong? Rock Art EXTREME Pumpkin poured a very dark brown, near black, almost cola looking brew with a light brown, one inch head full of tiny bubbles on top.

Hot damn this stuff smells sweet. Like Hershey's syrup. Straight up, like you held some upside down and just squeezed it out into this beer. It smells like really strong chocolate milk. This reminds me a little bit of something Southern Tier would do, like their Choklat. Not really getting any pumpkin or spice though. Meh.

Well, like they said, it doesn't taste like pumpkin pie that's for damn sure. It's got a little pinch of tartness right when it hits your lips, then a mild dark chocolate flavor rushes in and once that retreats a bit of burnt coffee lingers around before the piney, resinous cola like spruce tips bounce around on the tongue. Spruce tips taste pretty weird. It's got a harsh little haze of booze and grass just after the swallow, but it's not all that bad.

Body is a little light. With the smell and taste of this thing you'd really expect it to be the consistency of syrup, but it's pretty clean. It's a soft medium, slightly creamy and it puffs up a little. But it fades pretty quick. All in all this one isn't exactly all that "extreeeeeeeeeeeeme!". It's a decent spruce tip stout, with pumpkins for added texture, but if you go into this one expecting a pumpkin-y pumpkin beer then you'll be disappointed.

October 19, 2013

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Lexington, Kentucky. USA. 
Autumn Seasonal.
12 fl. oz. (x4) / $13.99 USD / 10% ABV

About: "Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale is a barrel-aged ale brewed with Kentucky-sourced pumpkin, richly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. As the ale is aged in fresh bourbon barrels, the sweetness of caramel and vanilla are imparted upon the brew and complement its spicier base. At 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), this robust, limited release seasonal makes for a flavorful sipping beer to slowly warm up with as the weather cools. Some retailers will be offering collectible jack-o-lantern snifters along with the ale."

Thoughts: Pretty pissed off that I didn't get one of those jack-o-lantern snifters they made. They look pretty cool. This beer is a lot lighter than I expected for some reason. It's got a decent sized head on it that lasted nearly a minute but fizzled away in its due time. Seeing some carb bubbles rising and the beer is pretty clear

It smells rather nice. It's sweet and you get a nice array of spices, pumpkin and barrel aging in there. Its not overly assertive, but the spices have not been subdued and the vanilla notes really bring out a pumpkin bread cake like quality to the brew. But the scent is far from weak, and it seems as if this brew has been "plucked" at just the right time. Still smells like a pumpkin beer, spices come through nicely and the barrel aging doesn't overpower.

Let's see how it tastes. Strength is the first sensation. Then booze. This shit is strong. Second sip and you know that mild, slightly sour, plain taste of pumpkin that most of the usual suspect pumpkin beers have? This one has that... only it is completely surrounded by the perfect accompaniment of friends here with these barrel notes and a strong sensation of spices that flow throughout. And that's about it. Not bad at all, yet not multifaceted, it is what it is. 

If this were an average pumpkin beer I probably wouldn't ever give it a second chance, but I'm not displeased that I decided to grab the four pack instead of grabbing a single.

October 17, 2013

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale - Malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spices (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Blue Point Brewing Co., in Long Island, NY. USA.
Autumn Seasonal.
12 fl. oz. / $1.89 USD / 6% ABV?

About: "According to Linus there are 3 things never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin. Our Pumpkin Ale, on the other hand, has made quite a buzz from New Hampshire down to Florida. Every season has its pleasures. Harvest your own with our Pumpkin Ale and reap all that Autumn has to offer. Brewed with pumpkins from only the most sincere patches, this seasonal brew is golden orange, crisp and delicious, with an innocent hint of cinnamon and nutmeg that articulates our favorite season. Gather with friends and family and enjoy the change of seasons while savoring a pint of Pumpkin Ale. Just like the leaves, it’s gone after Thanksgiving."

Thoughts: Blue Point's offering poured a bright copper orange hue with a fizzy popping white head. The beer is very clear and there's a ton of carbonation rising up very fast.

Smells like soft pumpkin mash, nutmeg, runts candy, and sweet malts. Everything is pretty low level.

Woah! That's a dirty one. I just got blasted with that "malt beverage" part. This shit should probably be sold in 40oz bottles, because I do believe that this is the first Pumpkin Malt Liquor that I've ever had. I wonder why the ABV isn't on this bottle... did they just mix cinnamon and nutmeg into some Olde English? This stuff is pretty harsh. I'm in the mood for harsh right now but I just belched and this beer is conjuring the old days, the down and dirty days, drinking nasty shit like Mickey's grenades and Colt 45. The spices, whatever they are, do nothing but intensify this grungy, harsh and bitter beverage.

Mouth feel is a big fat striking UGH! to the senses. I don't even know how it feels. My mouth just gives way to a shiver down my spine and a numbness in my face.

This one's not good. And not in the way that Pumpkinhead's not good either. That stuff's at least drinkable. Blue Point wasn't on point when they made this stuff man. This might in fact, be one of the worst beers I ever drank. Better go wash my mouth out with some Natural Ice.

October 15, 2013

Red Hook Our of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter

Red Hook Our of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter - A dark ale brewed with Pumpkin, Spices and Maple Syrup (2013)
Autumn Seasonal.
12 fl. oz. (x6) / $8.99 USD / 5.8% ABV

About: "Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter is dark chestnut brown in color and is made with pureed pumpkin. Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are added to the whirlpool and maple syrup is added during fermentation. This full-bodied, rich roasty porter makes you want to eat turkey and watch football, or build a bonfire."

Thoughts: Out of Your Gourd poured a very dark brown with a cream colored head full of small bubbles.

It doesn't smell like Tazz's head towel as I had expected, but instead has a rather smooth roasted quality to it with a touch of sweetness. Not getting any hop characteristics... lots of malts though. Smells of the gourd all right. A bit like a boiled pumpkin stew and a little nutty.

Starts off with a very mild tartness, a little bit of spice splashes in then retreats, a little numbing on the tongue, whaft of dry grass, and low droning roasted malts that slowly ride out. It tastes really earthy, and a little dirty. It's got a gentle bitterness to it. There's really not too much going on here. It's got a heavy mineral water type vibe to it on top of the slightly sour mash of that puree, and I don't really know where the maple syrup is but I'm not really getting it. There's perhaps a trace of maple syrup type sweetness, but it's very faint, as are the spices. If this were more spice heavy, particularly with cinnamon and nutmeg, and had a strong dousing of maple syrup it would be a spectacular brew. As it stands right now, it's just a bit plain. Not really terribly lackluster, but just a bit uninspired.

Mouth feel is really thin on this one. Chock this one up as just another pumpkin beer out there on the shelves. You'd think with the ingredients here there would be more to it, especially with the maple syrup. But then again, nobody seems to ever get that part right. Oh well.

October 13, 2013

Wasatch Pumpkin Seasonal Ale

Wasatch Pumpkin Seasonal Ale - Ale brewed with natural pumpkin and spices (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Wasatch Brewpub and Brewery in Park City, Utah. USA.
Autumn Seasonal.
12 fl. oz. / $1.69 USD / 4% ABV

About: "Brewed with the finest barley and pure pumpkin, and then spiced like your favorite holiday pie. If you enjoy the taste of pumpkin pie, this amber-hued ale is sure to please. Our Pumpkin Ale is available Seasonally in the Fall from August to November." Okay.

Thoughts: Wasatch Pumpkin poured a solid dense hazed apricot color with a soft, small off white head on top. Holding the beer to the light there seem to be shades of orange and green from different angles, but one things for sure, this stuff looks thick. I accidentally spilled some on my finger during the pour and man this shit is sticky! Beer's got a nice label too by the way. I like the simplistic approach. It doesn't always have to be an evil Jack-O-Lantern on the artwork, but it's got to at least have a fucking pumpkin on it right?

The beer smells lightly fruity, but very sweet, like homemade fruit roll ups or apricot puree. It's got a ton of cooked sugary pumpkin in there and really mellow spices. The spices are a bit faint, and I'd like them to present themselves a little better, but we'll see how things go with the first sip.

This beer has a solid malt foundation to it which saves it from falling into that bland earthy natural pumpkin trap that many other beers do. There's hardly any bitterness to this at all, but at the same time it's not overly sweet either. It's a sweet tea like sweetness. It's a little toasty at points, but very raw bready like semi-cooked dough and those spices just slowly crawl up from below at the end of each swallow. This one could use a heavy dose of some pumpkin spice in it, but as it stands, it's not bad.

There's some f'n weight to this one. Mouth feel is thick like syrup, with only very small traces of carbonation on the end of everything and even then it's a small fizzle. Overall this one is really mild, to the point where you can almost taste the water they used. Though it is a light beer, it's definitely not as bad as it could have been.

October 11, 2013

Cape Ann Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout

Cape Ann Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout (2013)
Autumn Seasonal.
12 fl. oz. / $1.49 USD / 7% ABV?

About: "Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout is a dark stout accentuated by flavors of the Autumn season. Using real pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, the Cape Ann Brewing Company took a fresh take at the common fall seasonal. This rich dark stout offers an inviting pumpkin spice aroma that gives way to the delicate essence of real pumpkin."

Thoughts: Poured a dense black hue with a small, light yellowish tan head on top. 

First whiff, and yup, that's sea water alright! Not too heavy on the coffee in this one, but rather some mild chocolate just offshore. It's got a hint of a dark plum like fruit way in the background. Spices are hard to identify, as is that pumpkin as they're so incredibly mild, but I'm pretty sure it's there. 

Well, the taste on this one just isn't my cup of booze. It's really watery tasting. Whatever yeast and water they used to make this, that's the first strong flavor I got.... and it's not all that splendid, let me tell you. The malt base is just unfathomably weak on this one. You see what I did there? It's not roasty or interesting at all; it's just kind of there. Really bland, no real flavors going on, and the spices are so dull that even though they're here they may as well be swabbing the deck. Also, it's a bit tart and funky tasting. I'm not digging this one at all. 

The main problem with this beer is that it doesn't feel like a stout, both in taste and in mouthfeel. The color of this beer doesn't fool me, man. This one is far too thin. Sure it may put Shipyard's Pumkinhead to shame, but what beer doesn't? While that one's been lost at sea, this beer just isn't in the same... league, as the others. *dr. evil pinky* I had already reviewed their Imperial Pumpkin Stout in 2011 and had it again just this last month, and that beer too fell flat. An amped up boozier version of this brew, it carries all the same weaknesses over to a higher ABV.

October 9, 2013

Beer Works Black O Lantern

Beer Works Overtime Series Black O Lantern - Imperial Pumpkin Stout (2013)
Autumn Seasonal (New).
12 fl. oz. / $2.99 USD / 8.5% ABV

About: "The next release in our small batch, high gravity OT Series is a completely new formulation Black O Lantern – Imperial Pumpkin Stout. This deep, dark, and intensely rich imperial pumpkin stout has flavors of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg that complement the chocolate and roast character. At 8.5% ABV, this beer finishes surprisingly and dangerously smooth! ... As the name suggests, we work overtime on this series. These limited release, super premium beers highlight our brewers’ creativity and skill. Legends in their own right on tap at Beer Works locations, these brews are finally in bottles! Beers too big and strong for 6-packs, we had to put these higher alcohol styles into 4-packs, now available at your local liquor store and Beer Works locations. These beers are NOT for the faint of heart!"

Thoughts: Poured a solid dense black with a dark chocolatey tan head. There's no color in this one at all, just pure blackness.

This smells like one of those pumpkin coffees only without the awesomeness of shitloads of cinnamon and sugar. Too bad. It does smell like a cold black coffee with raw earthy pumpkin puree though, and it's still kinda nice. There's also a little bit of nutmeg sprinkled in there as well. Not really getting much alcohol in the scent either.

This actually tastes pretty good, though I wish it were more extreme! It's got a good enough foundation, a real heavy natural pumpkin flavor and a decent amount of spice - mostly nutmeg - that tingles. It's not too heavy on the cinnamon, but it's there, though it joins forces with the 40 IBUs for a damper of a combination. Upon belching pumpkin spice comes forward and then some tasty freshly cut grass. Mmmm... There's something weird happening on the back end of this one all of a sudden, like smokey burnt rubber. It's not overly strong or atrocious or anything, but I caught a quick rush of it. I don't think anybody would ever call this beer "sweet" but there's a certain level of sweetness to it. Finishing up the glass now, breathing in heavily and I caught some cigarette ash in there.

Mouthfeel is a lot lighter than expected. The first gulp was pretty watery and surprisingly so considering the stuff looks like thick black sludge. It's also got a foamy quality to it.

Despite the aftertaste of a mouthful of burnt He-Man heads, this one isn't all that bad. It's more interesting than their standard pumpkin ale at least. Even if they're made from most of the same stuff.

October 7, 2013

Beer Works Pumpkin Works Ale

Beer Works Pumpkin Works Ale - Autumn Works (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Beer Works Brewery in Lowell, MA. USA. 
Autumn Seasonal (New)
12 fl. oz. / $1.79 USD / 5% ABV

About: "Nothing says fall like pumpkin, spice and everything nice - it’s with that in mind that we release our latest bottled brew: Pumpkin Works Ale, now available! Brewed at Beer Works since 1992, this ale leads with a tantalizing aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg. Made with real pumpkin, this beer is medium bodied with a balance of malt and spice that creates a finish reminiscent of the perfect bite of pumpkin pie. A tasty New England Autumn tradition!"

Thoughts: Totally "stoked" to find two pumpkin beers that I haven't tried before from Beer Works Brewery and Eatery in Lowell, Mass of all fuckin' places. Hey good luck with that guys. This one has the better of the two labels, with a really cool fiery jack-o-lantern face along the bottom. They must really be into the word WORKS too, since it's on this bottle a total of six times(!) including the cap. WTF dudes?

I got something that works too. It's in my pants. But I don't constantly bring it up! Wait a minute... not on purpose at least. Okay okay, so I bring it up on purpose all the time, what the hell do you expect? I'm always over at Day of the Woman and I just can't help it! Pumpkin Works Ale poured a light but bright orange hue with a loud fizzing head that popped away quickly. There was a loud sharp hiss upon opening the bottle and now it seems as if all the forced carbonation has been depleted. 

Scent wise we've got your standard pumpkin ale... there's that mild fleshy pumpkin droning over everything, and a whole lotta nutmeg. Sweet malts and cinnamon are in backup mode. It's a mild spiced ale, and it doesn't really scream out pumpkin pie to me.

The taste has that gentle bitterness that pumpkin ales usually bring. It's a bit raw tasting. There's a peppery quality to it as well, kinda smokey like cloves but not really. It's got a strange tartness about it. Not sour, but kinda like a weird squashy fruitiness. Aside from that funky pumpkin, it's a little bit bready and spicy like rye. It tastes a little bit like dirt. Not that there's anything wrong with that, right? I'm not really getting any cinnamon, and it's not drying at all either so there must not be that much spice in here. It's a bit empty feeling with each gulp. It doesn't go down too easily, like the liquid has some weight to it, but overall it's got no real character - aside from that label.

This beer is very middle ground. It's acceptable, but rather forgettable. Did I expect as much? Probably so. Did that really cool artwork draw me in only to ultimately let me down? Story of my fuckin' life g-sta!

October 5, 2013

Harpoon Pumpkin Cider

Harpoon Pumpkin Cider (2013)
Autumn Seasonal (New)
12 fl. oz. / $2.05 USD / 4.8% ABV

About: "Apples and pumpkins are two of the best things about fall in New England. It was only a matter of time before we decided to bring them together. We combined fresh apples and pumpkins, along with some subtle spices, to make this cider. We left out preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners and anything else that could get in the way of the flavors we wanted. Locally harvested pumpkins and apples are combined with seasonal spices to craft this pure and natural craft cider. Harpoon Pumpkin Cider is also naturally gluten-free. Its gluten content has been independently measured at less than 20 parts per million, meeting the FDA's proposed threshold for gluten-free."

Thoughts: Love the art on this label. An apple Jack-O-Lantern, man that's cool stuff. Heard a loud fizzy hiss when I popped the cap. Boringly named Pumpkin Cider poured an extremely light yellow color that so light it may as well be clear. Kinda looks like pee.

This shit smells like watery melted down gummy bears. I'm getting no pumpkin spices at all. It doesn't really smell "bad", but it's not strong and really not what I expected. It kinda just smells like a really, really light, sweet cider.

Onto the taste... first gulp, aaaaaaaannnnnnnnnddd, nothin'. Wow, this really doesn't taste like anything. It's super-duper watery tasting, kid. You know how ciders have that pungent kind of sting to them? Not this one. This is like slightly sweetened water. What the fuck, did they use one apple a barrel for this? If I really try to taste something while reading the ingredients on the bottle, I maybe get some nutmeg, way far off in the distance. Hardly any apple, barely any pumpkin, and the cinnamon and cloves are nowhere to be found.

This is some weak ass shit let me tell you. It actually tastes like three whole gummy bears were melted and mixed in with the glass with water. It's kinda sweet tasting overall, but man, it's just a total failure of a product.

I have only had one other "pumpkin cider" before this and that's the Woodchuck Pumpkin release. While that one let me down as well (it needed moar), their cider was fucking gloriously amazing compared to this shit! Sure it's not all too pumpkin pie-like but at least you can tell it's an adult beverage. This stuff was water.

October 3, 2013

Traveler Jack-O Shandy

Traveler Jack-O Shandy - Ale brewed with Lemon Peel with Natural Flavors and Pumpkin added (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by The Traveler Beer Company in Burlington, Vermont. USA.
Autumn Seasonal (New).
12 fl. oz. / $2.25 USD / 4.4% ABV

About: "Driven by an obsessive love of high jinks, the Jack-O-Traveler spent his days cooking up mischief for everyone who crossed his path. One of his favorite pranks involved tricking unsuspecting bar patrons into buying him beers and then skipping out just when it was his turn to buy a round. Representing the darker side of Shandy, Jack-O-Traveler is an alluring beer illuminated by the tastes of fall. He strikes the perfect balance between bright refreshment and seasonal spice. Jack is brewed with fresh pumpkin, for a delicious, dark hued, Shandy-inspired beer."

Thoughts: I was actually really surprised to see this suddenly on the shelves. It came rather unexpected. This company had just released three different versions of their Shandy beers and it happened real quick, so I didn't think they'd take on Pumpkin so soon. Jack-O poured a real cloudy amber orange with a slightly grayish head on top. There's not really any carbonation to be seen and it's not the prettiest of beers, despite being a la-de-da Shandy.

This beer smells pretty awesome though. Heavy, massive amounts of cinnamon with a sweet malty undertone to it. Smells a bit like pumpkin pie, and I like that. Can't really get any of the lemon peel in the scent though.

It's really good. There's no bitterness to this at all, but I'm not letting that bother me. This stuff is sweet all the way through, but it's not intensely sweet, nor is it mild. It's damn near perfect. By far the best shandy I've ever had. It's malty for the most part, and the mixing of 2-row barley and wheat is such a great combination to mix with this cinnamon and pumpkin. I'm glad they didn't use pale malt with the wheat because I think it would have really suffered from being too light if that were the case. Here it's pretty indulgent and hits in heavy waves at first before pulling back and riding out with that wheat. It's cool stuff. The hops are pretty mild and are definitely overshadowed by the spices here, but this tastes more like a real beer than a shandy actually. You can still tell it's a shandy obviously, especially a few seconds after swallowing each gulp when that sweetness really hits and the lemon peel comes into play. But that just adds another dimension to this drink. It tastes like a really good store brand pumpkin pie, and that's more than I can say about some of the other pumpkin brews that totally suck.

The mouth feel is pretty thick and a little bit sticky. It's not too drying so perhaps they didn't just dump a bunch of cinnamon powder into this, but instead used "natural flavoring". Whatever they did, it feels right, smells right and tastes right. Honestly, I'm really surprised. Don't ask me why but I thought for sure this beer was going to suck. But man this is one terrific tasting brew! Cool label too.

October 1, 2013

Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale

Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale - Ale brewed with Pumpkin and Spices (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Anderson Valley Brewing Co., in Boonville, CA. USA.
Autumn Seasonal (New).
12 fl. oz. / $1.49 USD / 6% ABV

About: "With a brilliant, deep copper hue and creamy beige-colored head, our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. The pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and silky body embrace the sweet caramel flavors and tang of spices (with just hint of hops) that ends in a smooth, round finish. MALTS: Pale Two-Row, Maris Otter, Munich, Crystal 120L, Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Puree / HOPS: Bravo."

Thoughts: Fall Hornin' comes presented with artwork very standard to all the Anderson Valley releases, but this time it's got an orange sky with some bats flying above their mascot.

My first thought on the color was wow that's a dark one. I was expecting a light orange hue but this brew poured a really dark brown color, almost soda like, with a deep burgundy showing through when held to the light. The head is a light tan / kahki color and fizzled away real quick like. Carbonation is low and while dark, the beer is really clear.

The scent up front is thick malts. Standard pureed pumpkin with some denser than normal spices. Doesn't smell all too much like pumpkin pie, but for a spiced pumpkin ale, it's got a lot more "oomph" than the usual fare.

Spices come out hard and heavy in the first gulp. Loads of cinnamon and nutmeg. Spices are tickling and the beer is sweet and malty. After swallowing, the spices linger for a long while and the beer base falls back and calms to a really mellow state. Cinnamon pretty much steals the show here. It's got a nice pumpkin brew flavor to it and it's not bland at all which is nice. It's also not overly bitter or heavy on the cloves. Though the clove is there, sweetness is the main event with this one. You've got little hints of smokiness, a lot of drying cinnamon, pumpkin puree and sweet, sugary malts here. Not bad.

This one is enjoyable, but not all that awesome since it falls basically in the "more of the same" category. I recently tried their Summer Solstice cream ale (no review) and it was fantastic! It would have been cool if they did a pumpkin cream ale similar to that one to make this beer stand out a little more. In fact, they definitely should have done that.

My words are my own and as of posted from their creation forward I hereby claim originality to them. Pictures may prove to be promotional items and are the sole possessions of their respectful owners and/or companies. I do not sell, nor do I buy. I only rent, so therefore, nothing I own is truly mine.