Great Pumpkin Ale | Cambridge Brewing Company

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very good
128 Reviews
Great Pumpkin AleGreat Pumpkin Ale

Brewed by:
Cambridge Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
New England’s first and CBC’s most sought after seasonal beer, The Great Pumpkin Ale, is back in bottles and on draft! We are very proud to be brewing with locally-grown sugar pumpkins from our friends at The Farm School in Athol, and Wilson Farms in Lexington. We’re also using organic barley that was grown in MA and then small-batch malted by our friends at Valley Malt in Hadley, MA.

Added by sponberg on 10-09-2002

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Reviews: 128 | Ratings: 358
Photo of CraftVA
5/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A – Pours a transparent orange color with finger-width of a white foamy head.

S – The smell reminds me of Fall and all the delicious baked goods that come with it. It has a forward, spicy scent with a sweetness to it.

T – Unlike other pumpkin ales I’ve tried, the pumpkin really comes through in this beer in a very pleasant way. It mingles with the spices and sweetness of the beer, with slightly hoppy finish.

M – Smooth with a medium level are carbonation. It’s a very enjoyable beer to drink.

O – This beer is my favorite pumpkin beer. The spicy flavor reminds me of my favorite part of Fall and I love having this fresh on tap.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.92/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tasted On-Tap 10/01/05 at the CBC in Cambridge, MA.

Orange-gold color with a nice off-white head. Nice all-spice, cinnamon, pumpkin spice aroma and flavor. Medium-light bodied and creamy. One of the best CBC beers of the day.

It was so delicious, I took a growler of this one back to the hotel.

Per CBC website:
Brewed with over 125 pounds of fresh, locally grown, organic sugar pumpkins in each batch. The subtle pumpkin flavor is enhanced by the addition of traditional autumn spices.
OG: 1.044 FG:1.012 ABV: 4.2%

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Photo of taez555
4.84/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this beer on tap at Anam Cara during game 3 of Sox/Yankees playoff series.

Poured a very clear amber/brown body with a small white head that died almost immediatly.

The nose was pure pumpkin pie spice. Cinnamon, allspice, with an upfront malt smell. One of the best pumpkin beer noses I've ever smelled.

The taste was just as amazing. Fresh, fresh pumpkin pie spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger. Malt. What really stands out about this beer is the bitterness. It's very bitter and slightly hoppy. The thing is.. it's perfectly balanced against the malt and pumpkin pie spices. An amazing interplay of tastes.

Simply put, where has this pumpkin beer been hiding? I've had a lot of pumpkin beers but this one might take the cake, or should I say pumpkin pie. It's like eating a fresh peice of your great grandmothers pumpkin pie but in beer form. So well balanced with malt, bitterness and fresh pie spices. A work of art.

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Photo of BetterDarker
4.8/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Foamy white head, almost looked like thin layer of whipped cream on my pumpkin pie dessert. Clear orange amber color with small amount of bubbles rising to the top with nice lacing.

Aroma is of expected spices and pumpkin. Surprised at how noticeable the actual pumpkin smell is. Fantastic.

Flavor is by far the best pumpkin beer I've had this year. Very smooth and well balanced. Fall spices are present but not over powering with a solid pumpkin and slight hop presence at the end

Crisp, dry finish with a medium in body. Good carbonation.

Very drinkable, I hope my homebrew comes close to this, because if it does, it's going to be a great November.

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Photo of scottum
4.77/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served an orangey amber with a light head at Anam Cara in Brookline, MA. Ding ding ding ding ding! Best pumpkin beer I've ever had and I am a fan of the style. Nice and pie spicey with that lovely pumpkin flavor chillin with the malts, but what's this? Hops in a pumpkin beer? It works! Very well balanced. I could drink it all night long and never get tired of it.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.6/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber poured into a New Belgium globe. Batch 01, bottled Sept. 2011.

A: Pours a mildly hazy copper/orange with a creamy white dollop of a head seemingly dropped right on top. Good retention, spotty lacing. Looks very inviting.

S: Chopped, cooked pumpkin and mild spice scents of cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, and ginger. Crust-like toasted malts. Smells great.

T: Spices are apparent at the outset. Nutmeg and ginger are prominent, with a backing of cinnamon and clove. Sweet, gourd-like chopped pumpkin tastes dominate the mid-palate, but spices poke through intermittently. Brown sugar and some bready, cookie-like toasted malt flavors call to mind some favorite holiday desserts. Maybe just a hint of some grassy hop tastes, but the hop bitterness has mainly a balancing role. Finishes with some sugary pumpkin tastes and mild spices.

M: Medium bodied. Very silky and creamy. Carbonation is prickly, but not forceful. It rounds out the mouthfeel nicely and makes for a delightfully smooth impression. A very impressive mouthfeel.

O: Excellent. Supremely balanced, which cannot be said for the vast majority of pumpkin beers out there. This is hands down the best pumpkin beer I've ever had. I know what I'm drinking with dessert on Thanksgiving this year.

Notes: The freshest, most authentic pumpkin taste I've ever come across in a beer. The spicing is done perfectly; not too ambitious, and it lets the beer stand on its own two feet. Great mouthfeel, excellent all around, really. Flawless. Can't praise it enough. I can't wait to see what other CBC beers will hit shelves around here next.

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Photo of sloejams
4.57/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After having quite a few of these already, my friend (and former CBC employee) suggested I give one of their other fines beers a try. I don't get to Boston much these days and it's rare when it lines up to be when the CBC has the Great Pumpkin flowing.

"Try the Half Wit, it's great"

"Ok get me one of those--- er, no another Great Pumpkin it is!"

We get 2 pumpkin beers when any regularity here in Los Angeles. Neither are any good. Great Pumpkin is outstanding. It doesn't hit you with the overwhelming pumpkin pie type flavoring like many others do. I was told the brewer Will insists on using real pumpkins and not the canned stuff most others do. And the flavor comes through.

At 4.2% it's quite sessionable. Love it.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.52/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear with an amber-tan color. Smells delicious, like a sweet, savory handmade pumpkin pie cooling off (minus the steam): pumpkin, pumpkin spices, and a touch of biscuit malt balance. Thinner body than I anticipated, but it’s not thin-bodied by any means. I’m guessing it’s in the range of a sessionable 5% or so. The touch of malt is just enough to give some balance to the cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice I pick up in tasting. A great lingering finish. Delicious. Definitely one of the more memorable pumpkin ales I’ve had this year.

Soapbox disclaimer: Had this in a plastic glass at a Cambridge-area pizzeria. Pint-prices for what seemed like a bottle-sized pour to boot. Which is just to say that for what I was charged I’d expect more attention to serving. All that aside, what a beer! Contemplated a growler-to-go upon my visit to the brewery, but travel demands made that unwieldy and impractical. Why, I would have had to drink it all that night…

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Photo of sponberg
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very deep reddish amber with a thin, vanilla colored head.

An aroma like sniffing a malt pile with a pumpkin pie baking in the background. Perfect flavor balance between the malt (toasty/caramelly), pumpkin (very round, orange, no sign of Ernest Borgnine being carved into it), and spices (hints of cinnamon, clove, maybe allspice, nutmeg, mace?) - a rare Pumpkin Ale in which the spices don't overpower the pumpkin doesn't overpower the malt, and the bitterness & sweetness remain in balance. Every brewpub that makes a pumpkin ale needs to try this one - the balance & flavor are dead-on. Leaves a very pleasant, lingering taste in the mouth. A great fall seasonal.

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Photo of wattoclone
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

So much flavor for a low ABV beer with lots of malty pumpkin and hints of aromatic spice. The finish is a bit tart but not in an offensive way. One of the better pumpkin beers that goes well with or without food.

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Photo of cbutova
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- 22oz bomber poured into a snifter and a goblet. Small white head forms atop the somewhat hazy orange-amber ale. Head retention is low and lacing is spotty.

S- Apple cider element on top of a traditional pumpkin ale character. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and bread come to mind.

T- Squash-like pumpkin flavor mixes well with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and apple cider/fruit notes. Yeast bread finishes off a well rounded, autumn flavor.

MF- Silky, creamy light body with nice smooth, moderate carbonation. Finishes slightly bitter.

The fruit and spice flavor meld beautifully with an authentic pumpkin flesh character. Truly a great pumpkin ale. This really makes me want to try more CBC.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an orangish red color with a nice amount of foamy head on top. Looks clean with good carbonation.

Aroma is earthy, sweet, some spices, hints of vanilla and pumpkin with a nice maltiness.

Flavor is everything I'm looking for in a pumpkin ale. Its good the right amount of sweetness and spiciness while remaining an actual, drinkable beer. Nothing dominating and low ABV so this is drinkable and flavorful. I really love the amount of pumpkin flavor in this beer.

Overall, I'm a fan of pumpkin ales and this is one of the best I've had. Everything is done right with this one and certainly worth giving a shot now that its in bottles.

A great bottled debut for CBC.

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Photo of PEBKAC
4.45/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pleasantly subtle. That's the easiest way to explain things.

A very spirited orange amber color, with minimal head. The free-flowing carbonation is easy to follow through its spotless body.

Whatever mix of spices they used, it brings your salivary glands right up to season, & seats them directly in front. A wavering hint of vanilla comfortably eases your nose to the glass, but amazingly, (nearly)none of that overbearing clove & ginger spice other brews go overboard with. Just a tad, more of the second then the first, if that. Maybe allspice instead of clove, as it's easier to be gentle with it. The sugar pumpkins get gently fluffed in more cinnamon & nutmeg then anything else. As a base, just the natural sweetness of the pumpkins themselves, coming out as pie crust dosed with powdered sugar.

The taste is nearly identical. Really no need to reiterate, it tastes just like everything you'd expect coming of the top, with even less hostility, if at all possible.

The mouthfeel, particularly the carbonation, lets you individualize everything. The beer is light in all aspects, but being so gentle, you really taste everything.

Maybe it depends on the person, but I felt immense satisfaction from letting my senses drive & dictate everything, without feeling the need to pull over, stop everything, & concentrate on any one aspect. Enjoying this beer(& the subsequent refills), was all too easy. :)

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Photo of u2carew
4.44/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber
A) Pours with a finger thick head that settles slightly. Clear rust colored body. Sticky lacing on the drink down.
S) Autumn spices. Steamed pumpkin.
T) Pleasant spice flavors from start to finish. A balanced pumpkin flavor throughout that is complimented perfectly by the added spices. A lingering pumpkin and nutmeg in the aftertaste.
M) Crisp. Clean. Light bodied.
O) A delicious pumpkin ale. One of the best! I will be finishing this bomber and savoring every drop.

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Photo of bpk59
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bottle into a Boulevard Tulip.

Color is a cloudy, rusty orange - exactly what you'd expect a Pumpkin Ale to look like. My pour yielded almost no head - maybe I poured it wrong? No lacing.

Aromas of pumpkin pie spices - cinnamon and nutmeg - are well-balanced against a mild floral counter-note. Definitely smell real pumpkin as well. Smell finishes with a mild sweet malty quality.

Taste is exceptional - like a juicy pumpkin pie. All elements of smell are pervasive in the taste and they translate into a well-balanced, medium bodied, pleasant mouthful.

Mouthfeel is solid, but could maybe stand a hint more carbonation. Smooth finish.

Overall, you'd be hard pressed to find a better Pumpkin ale. To me, this beer captures the essence of fall in a glass - whimsical, fun, beautiful and only lasts a short while (because I enjoyed it so much!).

Would love to see a thicker, foamy head on this but maybe I need to work on my pour technique :D

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy orange-ish brown color with a thin off white head.

S: A pretty good dose of baking spices. Heavy cinnamon and nutmeg with some allspice and clove. A bit of cooked pumpkin in the background.

T: Hits first with some tingling spices and a touch of pumpkin flesh. Pale malt and a good amount of grassy hops on the finish. Just a hint of pie crust as well. Almost like a cross between a pumpkin ale and a blonde ale. Mouthfeel is prickly an lighter bodied without feeling watered down. Infinitely drinkable.

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Photo of EPICAC
4.37/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a thin head that fades to a ring.

Smell: Very strong aromas of pumpkin with secondary nutmeg and cinnamon aromas.

Taste: Sweet pumpkins upfront, with nutmeg and cinnamon spices. The finish is lightly bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation, smooth.

Drinkability: Sweet, but not overly so, though my opinions on the style may differ from others.

Overall: A great pumpkin ale!

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Photo of YonderWanderer
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice clear orange with a thin layer of foam. Not much lacing, but carbonation is quite active.

S: The smell is light, hints of sugar, pumpkin, and cinnamon. Inviting and not overpowering.

T: This is where this beer really shines, and is one of the reason it's one of my favorite pumpkin beers to drink. The pumpkin flavor itself is very nicely balanced, and the spices really support it. Hints of cinnamon, clove, and vanilla come around it, giving it a wonderfully balanced flavor.

M: Smooth and very easy going down.

D: This is a very drinkable pumpkin beer. Aside from the low ABV making it a great session beer (I recommend the table taps at CBC), the flavor is just so damn good you could drink it all night long and not get tired of it.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a Playboy pint glass.

The color is a hazy golden amber with a finger and a half of foamy white head and some nice lacing on the glass. Some nice bubbles is cascading throughout this beer and giving it some amazing retention.

The smell is a little pumpkin but also a little bit like a wet kitchen sponge. There is some spicy aroma that is slightly like lemon but also like sweet like orange.

The taste is at first pumpkin but also has some light yeasty flavor light a Belgian white beer. There is some sweet malt flavor that is all around you and pulling things along as the flavor turns a little bitter. There is just small slap of hops but then get a little smoother as it goes down.

The feel of this beer is smooth and has a light mouth feel that nice to have in a great tasting beer like this. It will not hit you too hard as it delights your taste buds.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz brown bottle. Bottled on date and Batch # stamped.
Poured in a nonic tumbler.
It has a shiny, orange-hued copper color with a thin to medium-sized white head along with some lace dotting the glass.
It smells similar to a mild pale ale with caramel malt, dry grass, tea-like hops and whiffs of pumpkin and spice that linger in the background throughout.
The flavors are very balanced. You get the pleasure of seeking the tastes rather than them finding you.
Mellow tastes of fresh doughy pumpkin bread, blend with mild tea and lemon with honey flavors. The spiciness is in check. A little peppery nutmeg, a dose of tart citrus, then a clean finish.
Wonderful, wonderful creation here!

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Photo of Jason
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brightly glowing copper brown with a solid head retention. Seamless aroma of spices, pumpkin and malt. The flavour pulls the palate into a tug of war between the spices (nutmeg and cinnamon most notably) and the malt … the pumpkin is neutral yet noticeable. The hops referee the war and dub the war as a tie between the malt and spices.

Very drinkable and my top pumpkin ale as of yet.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Hazy, deep orange color with a big, fluffy white head. Allspice and fresh pumpkin pie with a buttery toasted crust. Flavor is caramel sweet malts and pie spice. Almost perfect balanced of creamy, caramel bread malts and spices. Medium body makes me think about warm pumpkin pie. Tasty and enjoyable beer but like most pumpkins beers I was satisfied after a bomber.

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Photo of portia99
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (batch 1 bottled September 2011) poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a stunningly clear deep orange amber color with a finger of not quite white rocky foam that dies fairly quickly to a skim coat leaving behind only faint traces of lace on the glass.

S - Immediately after opening the bottle I got a big whiff of pumpkin spices - lots of cinnamon, brown sugar, fresh pumpkin, a bit of apples, light cloves, nutmeg. A liquid pumpkin pie.

T - The aroma set me up to think this was going to be an overly sweet beer...but happily, not the case. Spices come thru nicely, especially the nutmeg and cinnamon but these are melded nicely into a somewhat dry overall impression. Malt is biscuity, hops are noticeable with a mid-level bitterness that really serves to balance things out almost perfectly. Left behind after the swallow is a mild but distinct fresh pumpkin flavor that lingers a bit.

M - A lighter body, just shy of medium with a corresponding carbonation level. Carbonation is lively but not overpowering...seems to effervesce the flavors out onto the taste buds...almost gives a sense of inhaling the flavors.

O - One of the better pumpkin beer examples I've had. Really well balanced - has the required pumpkin pie spices, but doesn't overpower as the syrupy dessert that many of this style seem to do. A welcome change of pace that fits well with the season.

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Photo of Gatch
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch No. 03, Bottled September 2012. Saw online about three weeks ago that they were chopping the pumpkins with the help of volunteers so this is darn fresh. Hopefully I'm available to volunteer next year.

A: Brilliant golden-orange with a slightly yellow head that builds and fades quickly, comprised of fizzy bubbles and not much lace or retention.

S: Very nice blend of fresh pumpkin, fall spices, roasted malt, caramelized sugar, sweet and poached fruit, and a slight hop presence. Earthy and woodsy, if I may.

T: Most of what's in the nose but much fruitier, pumpkin-ier, spicier, and hoppier. Hops are faint as is the fruit but they're there. The balance of fresh pumpkin and spice is enjoyable. More flavors come out as the beer warms but I'd say it's more refreshing and drinkable when it's at a cooler temperature.

M: Flavors can become a bit cloying but overall this is a well-crafted, fresh, and delicious Pumpkin Ale that is very easy to drink.

O: Highly recommended. As if CBC would make a bad beer, this is one of the shining stars of the style. With so many other pumpkin beers crowding the shelves, go straight for this one if you see it.

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Photo of ken2cart1
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

batch 1 bottled

light orange a darker of the lightest pumpkin ales ive seen

smells very pumpkiny....almost like pumpkin extract and sweet and spicyu of cinamon and nutmeng

taste is very good but not overwhelmingly pumpkiny. nice sweet pumpkin profile and some definite linerging holloween spices (nutmeg and cinamon)

very smooth and creamy...great pumpkin ale up there with smutty as one of my favs

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Great Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 358 ratings.
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