10/14/16 Harpoon Brewery's UFO Pumpkin

4:29 PM

This is a beer with which I have passing familiarity. That is to say that I've seen it on store shelves every autumn for years, but I have never before thought to try it. Yes, part of that is the price--Harpoon's UFO Pumpkin has always been known to me as being among the lower priced pumpkin ales in a sea of other pumpkin ales. When I first started seeing it around I had zero appreciation for the style. No, more than that. I vehemently hated pumpkin beers. But, since then I've been trying more and more of them and some brews in the style rank amongst my all-time favorite beers.

But still, I've never had the impulse to reach out and purchase the stuff. Because of the price. You will note that I also haven't ever had the impulse to reach out and some of the pricier pumpkin beers either. Also because of the price. I've been a middle ground pumpkin brew price guy. But hey, I recently thought, why not try it now? If it's bad I won't buy it again. If it's good, then we're all pretty lucky.

Before getting into drinking the open bottle to my right, let's talk about Harpoon Brewery a bit. I haven't done a post on their beer before. In fact, I've never had one of their beers before. The employee-owned brewery (which it became two years ago) was initially a concept thought up by Dan Kenary, Rich Doyle, and George Ligeti: Three friends who traveled Europe together in the mid-80s. During their travels they fell in love with the beers they were consuming and the history surrounding them. They decided to bring such brewing home and, in 1987, officially opened Harpoon Brewing in Boston, MA. That original brewery still exists, but the company's also opened a sister location in Windsor, VT. All this info, and much more, can be found on Harpoon's "About Us" page.

According to Harpoon's online description of UFO Pumpkin, the 5.9% ale boasts two kinds of malts and carries flavors of pumpkin and spice. All of this should be evident in both aroma and taste.

And, you know what? The ale smells malty, pumpkin-y, and spicy. In that order. It's like a mildly-sweet Octoberfest with a hearty dosage of pumpkin and a small amount of those traditional pumpkin pie spices. I like it. So does Purrl (she gave it six whiffs).

That order of ingredients flows right on through into the flavor. Malts first, then pumpkins, with a little spice in the end. The taste is sweeter than the aroma but it's finished with a good, earthy, vegetable-y pumpkin aftertaste. There isn't a lot of spice to be had here, which should be appealing to those (of whom I know a few) who aren't big on pumpkin spice.

This is an ale with bite. Sharp is how I'd describe the mouthfeel. There's an initial wash of fizz that lets you know this is a carbonated brew that fades away relatively quickly to allow you enjoy the beer's flavors.

Once I went with Michelle and one of our best friends to a "haunted" Halloween attraction (you know the kind--they pop up every year in around this time) near our then-home of Athens, OH called the Wicked Forest. The place was nestled within the Hocking Hills region. It was good, wholesome, inexpensive, spooky fun. There was the usual assortment of characters you'd expect for such a place: clowns, zombies, chainsawed madmen, doctors, and other ghouls of all shapes and sizes. It was a mishmash of Halloween horror insanity and all came together in an effective way to deliver the late-evening, early-fall good times we were seeking. That's what UFO Pumpkin reminds me of.

So here we are. I am pleased to say that, hearkening back to the start of post, we're lucky. With UFO Pumpkin, Harpoon's delivered a good, inexpensive pumpkin ale. It's not too sweet, not too pumpkin-y, and not too spicy. I'm giving it an solid 8/10. Give it a go if you're so inclined.

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