Shipyard Pumpkinhead: Its Autumn! Let the Pumpkin Brews Flow…

Today is the first day of Fall!  A great time of year, my personal favorite.  Crisp and sunny days, bright colors and cooler temps.  What is not to love.  And of course this is the unofficial time when the beer community jettisons their pilsners and lagers in favor of more hearty offerings like stouts, porters, and barleywines.  But no other brew says Autumn more succinctly that the Pumpkin Beer.  Now I promise not to go all crazy with the pumpkin brews, but I realized yesterday that I had only had one pumpkin brew ever.  That was Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale that I had and reviewed last year.

So I was in my local beer store and looking over the big new cooler that just installed when I realized that there were several pumpkin brews staring me in the face.  So I chose one that I hadn’t had before (an easy task since I had only ever had one other) to give myself over to the flavors of the season.  I chose Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale, because I had never had anything from Shipyard before and had heard some good things.  Question is can they make a good pumpkin brew???

This brew poured a golden orange color with a thin white head that quickly dissipated.  It was clear and there were a ton of little bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass.  It was quite effervescent.  This beer left not a hint of lacing on the glass and had a very light mouthfeel.  The nose was fruity and floral, almost had a Belgian quality without all the yeastiness.

The flavor was…unexpected.  It was a pleasant beer, but not at all what I thought I was going to taste.  Instead of having pumpkin pie in a glass I would call this a mix between a cider and a lager.  There were very distinct flavors of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Also I tasted of all things apples.  That’s right not pumpkin but apples!  It was a little strange, but good.  It wasn’t mom’s homemade pumpking pie, but like an apple pie that swallowed a pumpkin pie.

Bottom line was this beer was pretty good.  I’d buy it again and there was pumpkin flavor in there at the very front end, but then all the other flavors overpowered it and shoved it out of the way.  So now, I think I will try the Pumpking from Southern Tier next.  I heard that was good, but that it smells like an old sock…Hmmm.  Perhaps it is sour?


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14 Comments on “Shipyard Pumpkinhead: Its Autumn! Let the Pumpkin Brews Flow…”

  1. September 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I think Pumpking will be more to your liking Don.

    And I love the idea of a pumpkin pie inside an apple pie, kinda like the turducken of the dessert world!

    • Don
      September 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

      I’m gonna make one this year! A pumpple pie! What a great Idea…I think.

  2. Brandon
    September 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Your description sounds like the Punkin Ale I had from Dogfish Head. Wasn’t my thing for some reason… guess I was hoping for a sweeter flavor.

  3. Mark S.
    September 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    ‘Tis the season. I just finished a six-pack of pumpkin ale from…



    It was pretty good. Not “challenging”, but competent and drinkable.


    Anyway, I find that usually after a six pack or three I am done with pumpkin ales for the season, no matter the brand. Same for Winter Warmers that will be out in a few months.

    I’ll have to see if I can find the Shipyard Pumpkin.

    • September 23, 2010 at 9:58 am #

      You may be aware of my feelings about Saranac in general, but I seem to recall their pumpkin ale isn’t awful, which is a real step up for those guys. 😉

      The fact that your tolerance for pumpkin beers is limited to 6 – 18 bottles makes me sad that you wasted six of those on Saranac. But that’s just me.

      DFH Punkin is very good and Southern Tier Pumpking is very tasty indeed. You should try to get both before your window on pumpkin beers closes for the season.

      • Mark S.
        September 23, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

        Jim – I’ll try to pick up those two, and do a proper compare and contrast!

        FYI – I tried Southern Tier’s Porter earlier this year and found it a step down from Fuller’s or even Sam Adam’s Honey Porter. Much “rougher” the those other two is the best I can describe the difference. Therefore I’ve skipped over the rest of their offerings until now.

        • September 24, 2010 at 9:53 am #

          I’ve never had anything from Southern Tier’s regular line – I go straight for the Black Water series. Most of it is totally top shelf if you like big flavors and getting dizzy.

  4. Brandon in VA
    September 24, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    I found the Saranac to be decent, maybe a bit to sweet. Post Road would be my favorite so far. Also had the DFH and Sam Adams and didn’t care for either as I wanted some spice but didn’t really get it. I’ll keep trying and see what happens.

    • September 24, 2010 at 9:51 am #

      I recall the Saranac being really heavy on the vanilla and clove, and having an almost pie-like quality to it. But it’s been a long time. I haven’t had the Post Road yet, but I recall enjoying the DFH and don’t recall the Sam Adams at all (but I’m sure I’ve had it). Try a Southern Tier Pumpking if you can get one – it’s a bold example with lots of spice but not too much sweetness. It’s also 9% ABV, so pace yourself.

  5. September 27, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Well, guess what. I picked up some of this Shipyard Pumpkinhead to try. It wasn’t planned, but I was able to get a single so we’ll see. Based on what Don wrote, it shouldn’t be too horrible.

    Also, if you’re into Oktoberfest brews, make sure you try Victory’s Festbier. Great stuff!

    • September 27, 2010 at 10:11 am #

      Had some Victory Festbier this weekend, and it’s really tasty stuff, Scott. I’m curious to see how you like the Shipyard – I know you and pumpkins have issues.

  6. October 25, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    OK, so I had the Pumpkinhead and thought it was pretty bad. Too sweet and weird. It actually insulted my sink’s pipes as it passed through!

    • Don
      October 26, 2010 at 10:28 am #

      If you think that is to sweet, you aren’t going to like the pumking at all. That was my one objection to it was that it was puckeringly sweet.


  1. What Is Your Favorite Fall Seasonal Beer. « Beer & Whiskey Brothers - October 7, 2010

    […] Avery’s Kaiser, as well as the more traditional reviews I did of Sam Adams Octoberfest, and Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead.  Plus I know there are plenty of fall seasonals that Jim and I have drank that we haven’t […]

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