Soaking Up the Suds with James Crane

I know I’ve been on a bit of a spree here with the pumpkin, and I promise this is the last one this year. It’s just, well, Thanksgiving is almost here and, while this likely will garner a not-so-positive response, I might just love the pumpkin pie more than the turkey. Most of the time, I don’t even bother with any sort of whipped topping. I don’t want anything to mask that pumpkiny goodness. My only regret is that it comes at the end of the meal, after I’ve already stuffed myself with so many other things.
Sadly, however, Thanksgiving also seems to mark the end of pumpkin season. It just doesn’t feature so prominently in the following holidays. Once that leftover pie disappears, you’re pretty much done for the year. Sure, I could bake a pumpkin pie any time. Nothing is stopping me from having some for Christmas, or even on the Fourth of July, for that matter. But I most likely will just pine for one instead.
This means I’m going to get as much pumpkin in me as possible until pumpkin season ends this week. Thankfully, I haven’t even scratched the tip of the iceberg that is pumpkin beers. I regret I can only try so many. This week, I picked up a six-pack of Lancaster Brewing’s Baked Pumpkin Ale. It’s going to be my pie appetizer this week.
The color was a shade of amber not uncommon for pumpkin beers. A half-finger’s worth of white foam topped it. The head wasn’t big, but it lingered on top of the glass for the duration of the drink. A decent amount of bubbles ran through the liquid, promising decent carbonation. It certainly was a looker.
Caramel malt was very up-front in the nose. All the spices came right after that. Then all the usual suspects showed up. Cinnamon and nutmeg are very present with some clove backing them up. The malt transitioned into a graham cracker scent that really was quite pleasing. There also was a bit of vanilla.
To be honest, the one thing I didn’t really catch a lot of was pumpkin. It was more like a supermarket pumpkin pie, with the scent of spice and filler taking over. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, but it does put it in a certain category.
The taste certainly wasn’t any big surprise. It followed the scent pretty well. The crust was right up front with tons of malt and graham. Next up are all those aforementioned spices and vanilla. Some pumpkin held it together, but it was by far not the more prevalent flavor. There also was caramel and a finish not unlike honey. That’s not to say that the beer is overly sweet. It was well-balanced in that aspect.
There isn’t anything that really stands out about this one. It was a good beer and pretty much what I wanted. It did have an ABV of 7.5 percent, which was nice, but there still are stronger ones out there. It’s solid, but it’s not rewriting any history. Then again, I don’t want my pumpkin pie to taste like anything other than pumpkin pie. So I’d call that a win.

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