10/15/20: Whole Hog's Pumpkin Ale

12:39 PM

It's raining. They sky's a slate gray. Crows are cawing. Flaming orange and rusty yellow leaves are falling. There's a definite chill in the air. Yeah, this is officially the Halloween season.


This is the kind of fall day I absolutely adore. What better way to revel in the autumnal vibe of it than to crack into the next pumpkin brew I was planning to discuss here? Without further fanfare, here we go: Whole Hog's Pumpkin Ale.

Whole Hog's based in Stevens Point, WI. They specialize in next level brews, which are, according to their website, brews that are kicked up two notches. The brewery goes whole hog on their beers. (I should also say that they're owned by James Page [or JP] Brewing. Think about it like this: Whole Hog is to JP as Sam Adams is to Boston Beer.)

Pumpkin Ale is a 7% ABV beer that's raked in numerous awards for the brewery (see its official page for a list). It's brewed with pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg and cinnamon) and real pumpkin. Whole Hog touts it as "...sweet, fully enveloping...," meaning that's what I'm expecting from the beer.

The nose is all pumpkin pie. Look, I know that such claims get tossed around a lot with pumpkin beers. But, really. This is all pumpkin pie. Sweet pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and buttery graham cracker crust. I'm floored with by the ale's bouquet. Purrl is too. She gave my bottle twenty-seven whiffs and tried to get a taste of the beer (don't worry--I pulled it away before she got any).

All that pumpkin pie aromatic goodness the ale's giving me is present in its flavor profile, but tempered by the whole ale thing. The flavors aren't as bold or haughty as their aromas, but it still tastes like a pumpkin pie, just one that's washed down with a boozy brown ale. That's right. I said boozy. The ale wears its alcohol content on its sleeve, warming me up a little more with each swig. Graham cracker, brown sugar, and pumpkin (with a mild hop bitterness) kick around in the finish.

This is one hell of a bitey ale. It's big and full, with a sharpness that explodes on your tongue. It's befitting of the rest of what the ale has to offer.

One of my favorite things to do on Halloween is marathon episodes of a spooky show. When I was younger, it was Scariest Places on Earth (ABC/FOX Family would air a day full of them on the 31st) and Ghost Hunters. In recent years, however (like, the last decade recent), it's been Ghost Adventures.

See, during Halloween weekend of my freshman year of college, I had to keep the light off in my dorm room all day (my roommate had enjoyed himself a little too much the night before and slept until 6 or 7 pm). I got some carryout from the dining hall for lunch, and came back to my darkened dorm. I sat in front of the TV and flipped through the channels until I happened upon a Ghost Adventures marathon on the Travel Channel. I settled in for the long haul (until I left to meet up with friends later on that evening). That dark, cold, spooky day gave me the same feeling that this bottle of Pumpkin Ale's giving me now.

Like I said, I know that the whole "pumpkin pie" thing gets thrown out pretty regularly when it comes to pumpkin ales, but Whole Hog's addition to the style is the closest I've encountered this season to actually being a beerified pumpkin pie. The ale's definitely deserving of its awards. I'm giving my bottle a 9.5/10. I think you can still find sixers of this in the Greater Cincinnati area. I recommend you get some while it's around for the season.

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