10/31/21: A Very MadTree Brewing Company's The Great PumpCAN Halloween!

2:58 PM

We're here now, having traveled through the thick of Halloween's horrors to the holiday proper. You may be in the midst of fresh frights yourself, as ghost, goblins, and ghouls of all sorts call upon your door demanding treats in exchange for withholding tricks. Maybe now's a good time for you to dim your porch light for a bit and settle down with a beer. Or two, like I am.

Two? That's correct. Three years ago, MadTree retired The Great PumpCAN, it's pumpkinless pumpkin-flavored beer. While it still appeared on tap during its hiatus, it was absent from store shelves, the "CAN" of its name seemling forgotten. Until this year, when MadTree made my wish come true and resurrected its practice of canning the ale.

That still doesn't explain my two beers of the evening. See, I had squirreled away my final can of 2018's batch. Why? Well, I'd actually planned on aging this can anyway. But, once MadTree made it clear that the ale wouldn't be returning the for the foreseeable future, I vowed to keep hold of my can until PumpCAN's triumphant return. That return's happening now.

MadTree's based out of Cincinnati, OH's Oakley neighborhood. Here's their website, where you can read all about who, what, and why they are. The folks at the brewery make great beer, are eco-friendly, and do what they can to give back to the community. Oh, and they were the first Cincy craft brewery to package their offerings in cans.

Now, I never got around to doing a proper review of PumpCAN before it was put on ice. According to its official webpage, the ale (proudly choosing to not use pumpkin in its recipe), which rings in at 7.9% ABV, is brewed with molasses, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger.

My first can (the '18 one, coming straight from MadTree's old location in Cincy's Kennedy Heights neighborhood) leans hard into the molasses bit of that recipe. That's the most prominent note I'm finding in my can's bouquet. Purrl doesn't like molasses, so she gave my can three whiffs and refused to further acknowledge it. Her loss because, behind that molasses, I'm finding generous servings of some of the other spices PumpCAN employs: the nutmeg and cinnamon, namely.

That molasses carries through to the ale's flavor profile. It's smooth, but very present. There's also a nuttiness here that I can't quite pin down. It's pleasant and unexpected. Beyond this, I'm getting some of the spices (although these are fairly subdued)--ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon--before the molasses-sweet, boozy-warm finish that ends with a quick hoppy bite. 

'18 PumpCAN's dinks smoothly. There's a fullness here, to be sure, but the ale's really a sudden wash with a hearty quaffability.

'21 PumpCAN's nose isn't as molasses-forward. Don't get me wrong, the stuff's still there, but it's immediately tempered by ginger and nutmeg. Purrl wouldn't know that, though, since she wouldn't even turn her head for a whiff. Which is a hell of a shame, because that means she's missing out on a certain chocolateyness from the ale bouquet (the result of the some of the beer's parts?). Regardless, this all I could want from the aroma of a pumpkinless Halloween beer.

The molasses is also less present in the ale's flavor. It's still kicking around in the boozy-warm finish, sure, but before that it's all spice and malty goodness. Cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, and brown sugar. Everything you'd expect from a pumpkin pie (just minus the gourdiness). The finish hits with that molasses, booze, and, again, subtle hop bite.

The new can's almost as smooth as the aged one. There's a quick jab of carbonation here, but one that doesn't leave a mark. Other than that, it's a near-perfect mirror of what I just drank.

The first Halloween in our house was 2018. We didn't know what to expect from trick-or-treaters, so we bought three bags of candy and waited. Shortly after trick-or-treat started, the sky opened up and freezing rain plummeted down. We ate the candy ourselves.

The next year we didn't get any ghouls at our door, nor did we last year. Yesterday, I talked to my neighbor and he said that, although he has candy for any callers that might visit him, our street hasn't seen any costumed children since his left home. Let's hope that changes tonight. The Great PumpCAN's back. Anything can happen (on Halloween), right (including a true horror for me--having to work on a Sunday)?

I'm thrilled that MadTree brought The Great PumpCAN back from the brink of death. It's a killer Halloween brew, although not one I'd recommend you age (or at least not for three years). The older can I cracked into? It's an 8.0/10. So, it's good, sure, but not as good as the fresh one. '21's a solid 9.0/10. I guess, if you have old cans of your own, drink 'em now. If you have fresh cans, well, drink those, too. Now, if you don't mind, I'll resume my spot on the porch with my bowl of peanut butter cups, hoping some ghosts or mummies drop by. Shouldn't you be doing the same? Happy Halloween!

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