Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Beer Installment #3: Cambridge Brewing’s Great Pumpkin Ale

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer meets Bette Midler? The girly, high-pitched shriek Kramer lets loose upon meeting Bette is similar to the sound Boston beer fans made some months ago once learning that Cambridge Brewing Company (CBC) would bottle and sell their beer in stores.

CBC is a well-loved brewpub in the Kendall Square neighborhood of Cambridge. Until recently, the only place to get their beer was at the brewery (or occasionally on tap at a few select bars).

Not all CBC beers will be bottled and sold in stores. It seems just a few will. But CBC picked a great one to start with – the Great Pumpkin Ale. It’s widely considered to be the original pumpkin ale as CBC first brewed it twenty two years ago, before any other New England brewery tried brewing pumpkin beers. Easily one of the most exciting local beer releases this season, 22-oz bottles of the Great Pumpkin Ale can now be enjoyed in the comfort of our homes.

CBC makes this beer with local, organic sugar pumpkins and organic malt from Massachusetts.

Pouring from a bottle noted as “batch 1”, I saw a hazy orange brew. I could barely see my finger’s shadow through the glass. It’s fizzy off-white head isn’t substantial and quickly fades to a cap.

The aroma was mild but not boring; notes of pumpkin pie and raw pumpkin were present. Its flavor offered more pumpkin pie, but not as sweet as other pumpkin ales do. The separate layers of earthy pumpkin, fall spices, bready malt, and elegant hops are all in harmony.  A creamy mouthfeel brought to mind the dollop of whip cream one would place on top of their slice of pie.

I loved this beer. I loved that its alcohol level, despite its full flavor, is amazingly just 4.2%. The more I drank it, the more I realized how I preferred the earthy pumpkin flavor in this beer over the candied-pumpkin character in some other pumpkin beers.  

You can still find this in stores. But probably not for much longer. If you don’t see it on shelves, get it on tap at CBC until Thanksgiving. There’s actually no better time to do that than on Saturday, October 29, when CBC puts on the Great Pumpkin Festival. On tap, from 1:00 PM – 12:30 AM, will be over thirty different pumpkin ales from across the country. Dust off that dracula costume and get down there.

Grade: A

1 Kendall Square, Bldg 100
Cambridge, MA 02139

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