10/14/21: Masthead Brewing Company's Haunted Hayride

3:32 PM

This evening's beer is one I've been looking forward to since I picked it up last month. I found it at my local bottleshop and, immediately smitten by the name printed on the label, knew I had to have it for this year's spooky season.

That name? Haunted Hayride. It's so great in its simplicity and the imagery it evokes that it's hard for me to believe that no other brewery's claimed it. But, luckily for me, no brewery but Masthead has, meaning that my bottleshop falls in the distribution range for this pumpkin ale. Let's see if the beer's something that I'd like to have with me on a haunted hayride.

Hailing from Cleveland, OH, Masthead (this link goes to the associated "About Us" page) makes its home in an old automotive dealership (so old, in fact, that it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places). The brewery, known for its juicy IPAs and barrel-aging program, boasts a 300-seat taproom and a 50-seat, dog-friendly patio.

You can read about Haunted Hayride (one of Masthead's two pumpkin brews) over on the brewery's "Beer Menu" page. It's a 7.3% ABV pumpkin ale brewed with nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. The page says nothing about that killer name.

I'll add here that my can (apart from specifying the ale as an amber) leans into the name. Going for pumpkin patch hayrides, along with trick-or-treating, and campfire ghost stories are what inspired this beer, which is crafted to enjoy on crisp days as the leaves change.

The strongest note on Haunted Hayride's nose is ginger. Beyond that I find the pumpkin and the nutmeg and, if I'm really looking for it, some cinnamon in the rear--I'm happy they didn't go overboard with this final spice, because it seems so easy to do. Beyond this, there's the maltiness of the amber backbone with a touch (just a touch) of nuttiness. Purrl, who hasn't been super into many of the pumpkin beers this season, gave my can twenty-three whiffs. I think that's her highest rating of any beer featured on the blog. Regardless of what I have to say about the beer (I think it's bouquet is super solid, by the way), that's outrageously high praise from a pretty discerning cat.

That ginger's snappy on in the ale's flavor profile and the first to hit my tongue. Beyond that, Haunted Hayride's flavor presentation unfolds in much the same way as the nose: pumpkin followed by nutmeg followed by a faint hint of cinnamon. The pumpkin returns at the end of the long finish (with a roasty quality that I can't decide as to whether it's a result of the grain bill or the hops). But before it comes back around, there's a citrusy, limey quality that crops up. It's unexpected but not unwelcome, really adding more depth to the beer.

When it comes to the ale's mouthfeel, I'm finding a full-bodied brew, with just the amount of carbonation that's pretty much required by a beer of this caliber.

I hate to say it, but Haunted Hayride doesn't make me think of hayrides I've been on, nor does it make me think of campfire ghost stories or trick-or-treating. In stead, it's reminding me of Memorial Day weekend 2019. 

My folks had recently gifted us their old hammock and, on that surprisingly chill afternoon, I set it up in a copse of trees in our backyard to take a nap and drink a beer. It was a wonderful, relaxing event that, for some reason, this evening's pumpkin ale is bringing to mind.

Masthead's Haunted Hayride's a refreshing pumpkin ale, especially after you drink some of the heftier ones you'll find this time of year. I can't really tell it's 7.3%, though, making it dangerous. Regardless, it's getting an 8.5/10 from me. I hope that you can find a can or two in your neck of the woods to try.

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