10/4/21: Griffin Claw Brewing Company's Screamin' Pumpkin

2:25 PM

What a day for another pumpkin beer! The chill I perceived in the air yesterday never materialized as anything other than a persistent breeze that's still blowing. However, the sun's out, the leaves are rustling and falling, and it just feels like a genuinely wonderful autumn day.

So, I'm cracking into a beer I brought home from a recent trip up to Michigan (my folks grabbed it for me): Griffin Claw's Screamin' Pumpkin. Fingers crossed that it's a suitable ale to accentuate the wonder of today.

The Birmingham, MI brewery was founded in 2013 by Bonnie LePage and Mary Nicholson (three years after brewmaster Dan Rogers won top honors at the World Beer Cup for Norm's Raggedy Ass [my Great Aunt Sandy's favorite beer]). In addition to brewing world-class beer, the company also distills spirits and has its own brand of hard cider: Blackgrass Cider. Over the last decade-plus that Dan's been crafting beer, Griffin Claw's opened a secondary location in Rochester Hills. Here's their "Our Story" page for those with a hankering for information directly from the source.

Screamin' Pumpkin (this link is to its official write-up) is a 5% ABV (amber, according to my can) ale that's "...like a slice of pumpkin pie in a beer can." The ale's brewed with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, molasses, clove, and (again, according to my can--and common sense) roasted pumpkin.

My can's nose is giving me rich, malty amber ale notes (malty sweetness with a touch of nuttiness) before turning to the pumpkin pie-styling. Here it's all the spices listed in the previous paragraph with a good bit of pumpkin. Really, Screamin' Pumpkin packs the aromatic wallop of pumpkin pie. Imagine you have a slice sitting on a table before you, with a glass of amber ale beside it to help wash it down. That's the exact scene this bouquet is setting for me. 

Purrl isn't as infatuated with the beer's aroma as I am, which is obvious from the measly five whiffs she gave the stuff.

With a bouquet like the one on Screamin' Pumpkin, you might be tempted to think that the ale's flavor profile would feature over-the-top sweetness. I'm happy to report that this isn't the case. The two biggest flavors I'm finding here are good, gourdy pumpkin and ginger (the later lingers longest in the finish). The other spices are here, too, but they bolster what the pumpkin and the ginger are doing--adding lightly to it without stealing focus from it. That amber ale backbone helps centralize the beer and keep it focused on what it's supposed to be doing: Providing a pumpkin pie experience in the form of a beer. At the mid-ABV, I'm shocked to report that I'm finding a smidgen of warmth. On second thought, though, this is probably attributable to the spices instead of the alcohol. It's akin to the warmth you find in an actual slice of pumpkin pie. 

The mouthfeel is actually a little transcendent for what I'd expect from an amber. It's a little creamier. A touch fuller.

As a kid, I could never get into pumpkin pie. I think it was the tiny flare of heat provided the spices. I remember sitting at my grandparents' dining room table for Thanksgiving year after year and passing the pumpkin down to whoever was seated beside me without taking a slice, opting, instead, for some of the apple pie coming down the line. 

I don't know when pumpkin pie started to grow on me, but it was probably sometime during my mid-teens. Now I relish all the flavors a slice holds. This beer features them all, without venturing into "too much" territory.

I can see why Aunt Sandy's favorite beer comes from Griffin Claw: Screamin' Pumpkin is a superb addition to the array of pumpkin ales available. If you find it on your local shelves, it should be an on-sight purchase. My can gets earns a 9.5/10.

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