10/21/22: Shipyard Brewing Company's Smashed Pumpkin

4:02 PM

Do you remember, a day over a year ago, when I drank Shipyard's Pumpkinhead? That was a beer that was a long time coming; one I'd seen on pumpkin beer-adorned shelves forever but just never got around to trying. It was pretty good! It was lightly spiced and wheaty, what I think would be a great introduction to pumpkin ales for those new to the style. By this, I mean it's not the best the style has to offer, but a great way to ease into everything the style does right.

Now, I promise there's a reason I'm reminding you of this. See, this year I managed to find a single can of Shipyard's Smashed Pumpkin. How's it compare to it's less-ABV brother? Only one way to find out!

Shipyard's a Portland (ME, not OR) brewery that was founded in 1994 but can trace its lineage back two years further, to the ripe year of 1992. Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley opened a brewpub named Federal Jack's in '92 and, within two years, they found the demand for their beer was greater than they could keep up with. Thus was born Shipyard. Since, they've expanded their operations and widened their distribution range. Now I can easily sit in my Ohio living room and enjoy one of their four (!) pumpkin offerings.  

Smashed Pumpkin, a hearty 9% ABV pumpkin ale, is billed as having a big body. It's a wheat ale featuring pumpkin and nutmeg. I'm expecting a more lightly-spiced ale than I'm used to during this season. Let's see if that expectation is, in fact, reality.

Before going further, I'd like to say that my can delves a little more into what the beer has on offer: An addition of burnt sugar to the bouquet and a sweet flavor with a warm, bitter finish.

The nose is groudy pumpkin, subtle nutmeg, and warm buttered pie crust, a delicious aroma. Beyond this I find some wheatiness from, obviously, the wheat and a small tap of the booziness that I'm sure I'll find in the ale's flavor profile. There's something shameful here, though: Háma doesn't agree with the nose, giving it no whiffs before turning his head. This is a case of "That's his loss, I guess."

Okay, I let my first swig settle in a bit before turning to my keyboard to talk about it. Sure, the booziness is there and huge (lingering well into the ages-long finish with that buttered pie crust I picked out of the bouquet), and there's pumpkin and nutmeg. But there's also something light at play here, an almost lemoniness that flitters about the whole flavor profile like some effervescent apparition, tarrying in one spot almost long enough for me to really grasp at it before vanishing in such a way that I'd nearly think it never existed. So, I guess you could say this is a good tasting beer, and one that's just as lightly-spiced as I'd predicted (which is great because the ale's heavy.)

Guess what. Smashed Pumpkin has a big body. It's full and absolutely fitting for a beer of this aroma/flavor/ABV. It's a little creamy from the wheat, yet robust and bold in a way that's a great fortification against the chilly autumnal evenings.

This is a beer that's pretty damn tailor-suited for decorating your living space for Halloween. This isn't wholly applicable in my case this year--we put up our Halloween decor during the first week of the month. But, imagine putting on some spooky tunes, putting out your bats/ghosts/witches/skeletons, and drinking a beer like this. That's some ghastly seasonal bliss.

Shipyard's Pumpkinhead's a good pumpkin beer. Shipyard's Smashed Pumpkin's a great pumpkin beer. Like, 9.0/10 great. I've found a new seasonal staple tonight. I'll be breaking into a can next year during decorating day.

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