Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin - Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
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Ratings: 142 | Reviews: 32 | Display Reviews Only:
2.5/5 rDev -31.7%
Acquired at Whole Foods HQ. 22 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing simple label art and branded pry-off pressure cap served into a pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are high. 10.5% ABV.
Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.
A: No bubble show forms as I pour.
Pours a half finger wide head of nice rich khaki colour; not as tan or rich as it could be, but it has a soft shiny complexion. Thickness and creaminess are a bit underplayed, but generally pretty good. Retention is poor - maybe 40 seconds at best. No lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.
Body colour is a predictable opaque dark black; not quite a solid or jet black - the edges have a cola colour in the glass. Nontransparent/nontranslucent. No yeast particles are visible. I've seen more vibrant imperial stouts, but this one is generally appealing for the style.
Not unique or special, but there are no obvious flaws.
Sm: Pumpkin - mostly a puree, but there's a bit of gourd there. Doesn't come off as artificial as most pumpkin puree beers do. Still, real pumpkin would be preferable. Chocolate malt. Dark malts. Brown sugar. Molasses - I could do without that note. Plenty of evocative yet balanced spices: nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon. I don't find any ginger. I do get some vague almond extract. Not as roasty as I'd like; it has very little roasted barley character at all. Unfortunately, I get a buried nebulous hint of anise/licorice (which I can't stand in a beer, especially when combined with molasses notes).
No hop/yeast character or alcohol is detectable.
Overall, it's an interesting aroma of moderate strength, and suggests that the flavour profile will live up to the pumpkin/imperial stout hybrid premise. I'm looking forward to trying it.
T: Hmph. Right off the first sip I can tell the spices and pumpkin clash somewhat with the dark malt/chocolate malt body. The finish (and most of the third act) is/are entirely too bitter, with troublesome anise/licorice mixing with the bitterness of the dying spices. Molasses lends an unnatural sweetness to the second act. Caramel. All the spices are packed in on the climax and in the third act, making it structurally imbalanced. I get allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Too much nutmeg. The cinnamon also seems a bit strange, and distracts from the malts. Out-of-place green apple makes an appearance; that was a poor choice. There's an unwelcome baked brown sugar character throughout the beer which I'm none too keen on. The pumpkin itself has less presence than the spices, and isn't evocative; there's no true pumpkin or pumpkin gourd, just a vague puree/extract note that rings artificial (contrary to what the aroma suggested).
It does come off on the sweeter side, definitely. No hop character or yeast character comes through. I do notice an evident alcohol presence, which reduces the drinkability.
Depth of flavour is on the low side of average for the style, as is duration of flavour. Intensity of flavour is average for the style.
The harsh spice presence needs some real toning down. It definitely needs more pumpkin - and real pumpkin. Too sweet as well. It's an interesting stab at a pumpkin beer, but ultimately it's quite a mess. Imbalanced, with little cohesion; certainly not gestalt. Lacks any subtlety whatsoever, but it does attempt to bring the complexity - it just falls short on the execution. I wouldn't call it uninspired, it's just a failed experiment. I wouldn't say I like it per se.
Mf: Smooth and wet - too much so on both counts. Sticky. Overcarbonated. Lightly syrupy. Too thick/viscous. Has an unjustifiably overbearing presence on the palate for its lack of flavour and balance. It crosses the barrier from 'pleasant alcohol warmth' to 'unpleasant heat.' Doesn't suit the flavour profile well. It ought to be more dry and coarse, as well as a bit less thick and more approachable. Unrefreshing. Flawed execution.
Dr: While I'll finish the bottle alone, it's not the most drinkable beer - both due to its relative lack of quality and its troublesome mouthfeel. It's a deeply flawed beer, but I applaud the attempt to merge the concept of a pumpkin beer with the imperial stout style. Unfortunately, Harpoon fell well short of its aims, and we're left with a spice-dominant pumpkin-minimal beer that has none of the best attributes of its two constituent styles and many of the worst. I wouldn't get it again, nor would I recommend it to friends.
If you're going to brew a pumpkin beer, commit. Brew with real pumpkin, put in the time and effort, clean your messy tanks, and deliver. At the end of the day this beer seems like more an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the pumpkin seasonal than a sincere attempt to satisfy drinkers.
09-27-2013 03:08:42 | More by kojevergas
2.9/5 rDev -20.8%
I have really liked the big pumpkin stouts I have had so far this season.Pours nearly jet black except for a tinge of brown when held to the light,a half finger beige head atop.Nutmeg and clove stand out most in the nose along light alcohol and molasses-like sweetness,downhill from here.Somewhat fizzy and much lighter than expected in the mouth with harsh over spiced flavors and some stinging alcohol in the finish.Wow I have to say I was expecting something much better here...might be a drain pour.
10-09-2013 20:49:09 | More by oberon
3.08/5 rDev -15.8%
Pours black with a brown head. Some roasted grain, spices dominated by ginger, some cinammon and nutmeg in there as well. Flavor is a bit heavy on the ginger as well.
Ok I have to be honest, I just don't like pumpkin stouts. I've tried several of them and find the roasted grain clashes with the pie spicing. I think a maltier brown base goes better with that type of flavor and the acrid taste of roasted grain doesn't compliment it as well. This also is too heavy on the ginger which I don't appreciate either. Each to their own though.
In the end I think the ginger sinks this one. It's too tangy of a flavor against the bitter roasted grain. It's a good attempt, I detect no off flavors and I can't say anything is out of balance. It's a well made beer. Pumpkin stout is a style I really want to like, pairing a dark roasty beer with the autumn flavors of pie spicing seems like a fusion begging to happen, but so far I have not found the one that works for me.
11-01-2013 01:02:25 | More by neophilus
3.16/5 rDev -13.7%
Pours out black. Brown on the edges when placed in the light. Smells like the full (sweet) spice rack. Roasted malts and fruity, estery yeast. Spices aren't as up front as I would have hoped. A good deal of burnt grain bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel could be fuller and thicker for my tastes. This isn't bad, but I've had better pumpkin stout. Underwhelming.
10-20-2013 03:59:09 | More by goochpunch
3.19/5 rDev -12.8%
Dark chestnut colored with a thick beige head that rises up frothy and bubbly, then slowly settles out. Low aroma of vegetal notes and spice. Rich flavor upfront, malty with caramel notes, some toffee, then a sharp intrusion of nutmeg and clove. No cinnamon, no pumpkin. Good mouthfeel, rich and full, but it can't salvage this one for me. Way too spicy and a bit one-dimensional.
09-09-2013 01:35:51 | More by far333
3.21/5 rDev -12.3%
Holding this up to the light, you CAN see through it. It isn't a usual stout black, but a beautiful dark red-brown. Would be a great appearance, but there was no head whatsoever.
The aroma is excellent, boasting big spice notes and dark fruit. It definitely smells like pumpkin pie baking in the oven. No real hop profile here.
The flavor is where I lose this one. It doesn't back up the aromas very well and is way too sweet. A lot of alcohol in the flavor. Take this brew in small amounts from a glass for strong ales. Don't make my mistake and pour yourself a pint.
The mouthfeel is nice: very rich and smooth, rather full body, and nice heat from the alcohol, but not over powering.
This isn't bad and I'd have it again. But I'll have it in small amounts for sipping. Otherwise it's just way too sweet.
11-25-2013 00:02:42 | More by thehooksman
Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
83 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.