10/6/19: Joesphsbrau Brewing Company's Howling Grouds Pumpkin Ale

4:35 PM

Today's been a dark and rainy October day. I've spent the majority of it marathoning Ghost Adventures (or, mimicking how a music theory instructor in my undergrad introduced it to me, Ghost Bros). This show is the absolute best at being the absolute worst ghost-hunting show on TV. Guys who could be ex-frat dudes wearing Tapout shirts screaming "Come at me, bro!" to whatever spirits they think are around? I mean, come on.


But, it's been a hell of a great way to while away a nasty day while getting me into a spooky mood. I'm looking to double dip into that mood right now with this review: Josephsbrau's Howling Gourds Pumpkin Ale.

Joesphsbrau is the Trader Joe's brewery. What is Trader Joe's? You probably know, but it's a chain of private label stores (488 across the US and counting) that offers high-quality products at affordable prices. Here's the Our Story page on TJ's website if you need more information.

If you're just here for the beer, though, we get can right to that. Its page on TJ's website is crafted in a careful rhyme, which is just what I want from the description of a Halloween beer. The ale's 7% ABV with spice and vanilla. Oh, at a sixer'll run you $7. I'll not lie to you; the price is what drew me to it.

My first whiff nets me the vanilla and the spice (nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves. You know, the standard pumpkin ale stuff). My second waft, though, provides pumpkin. This is, undoubtedly, the most true-to-gourd pumpkin bouquet I've had from a pumpkin ale. It's like carving into a fresh gourd on the night before Halloween to make a Jack-o'-lantern for your porch. You're familiar with that wet, earthy, vegetable aroma? That's a big part of what this beer's giving me. I think this is a great sign, but Purrl's not big on it, seeing as how she only gave me bottle a single whiff.


Taking a swig, I get that genuine pumpkin flavor that provided so much of the nose. Following that, I get a brief wash of vanilla that's quickly drowned out by pumpkin spices before the long, gourdy finish. I find it hard to believe that a flavor profile like this can be had for just over a buck a bottle, but I'm happy that's the legitimate case. EDIT: I'm getting some ginger from the ale, as well. It's a strange additional flavor, but not an unpleasant one.

The mouthfeel on the ale isn't anything to write home about, either in praise or criticism. It's exactly what an ale should be.

The very first time Michelle and I carved Jack-o'-lantern's together was our first October as a couple. After carving our scary masterpieces (mine was the Zelda series' Triforce) we washed off all the seeds we could salvage from the pumpkins, sprinkled salt on them, and stuck them in my apartment's oven to bake.

While they baked (well, actually, they burned--we didn't do the bake correctly) we put on Paranormal Activity. I hadn't seen it before and neither had Michelle, but as a run-of-the-mill horror flick (yeah, I said it) I could pick out on the coming jump scares a mile away. During one, I shook my arm resting against Michelle and scared the bejeezus out of her. It was great, even if she's still not forgiven me for it. All the while, my place was filled with a pleasant, pumpkiny aroma, exactly like what I'm getting from Howling Gourds.

What can I say about Josephsbrau's Howling Gourds? Well, put simply, you won't do any better for the price. It features that genuine pumpkin flavor in a way I've not otherwise encountered. I'm giving it a 9.0/10. If you're into pumpkin ales and live in proximity to a Trader Joe's, you need to grab some of this.

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