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Great Pumpkin Ale | Cambridge Brewing Company

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very good
129 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: 129 | Ratings: 360
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

a great pumpkin (pun intended). its hazy and rusty orange, dull in luster but robust in flavor. the spice is minimal so the squash can stand out. it wasnt always this way, but i am moving in the direction of preferring this with my pumpkin beer. the nose is reserved, a touch of ginger maybe, and the protein of the base. malty sure, but never sweet. there is a lot of body on it, a nice yest profile, which we almost never see in pumpkin beer, and finally a dry finish with excellent carbonation that makes this stand out both in terms of quality and uniqueness. squashy flavors, perfectly autumnal, and one of those beers i could drink way more of than i should. i like the feel, and the flavor is more alive than the nose, with a cool spice profile that marries well with the buttery vegetable part of the pumpkin. love how dry it is too. one of the best pumpkin brews of the year for certain. cambridge always impresses me, and should probably be regarded higher than they are on the whole. always solid, often brilliant.

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Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is slightly hazy orange amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high light beige head that died down, leaving only a collar of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of pumpkins and pumpkin spices are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg spices along with notes of pumpkins and subtle bits of sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has a very good balance between the flavors of pumpkins and spices, neither of which is overdone. It's also quite flavorful for a beer with a relatively low alcohol content.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.49/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

In a market where many brewers are abandoning the beer-like qualities in favor of strong sweetness and spice in these holiday ales, Cambridge Brewing designs a Pumpkin Ale where "beer" flavor is most prominent and the flavors of pumpkin pie come secondarily.

Light gold in color, Great Pumpkin Ale casts a medium haze that gives the beer's body glows with an almost pumpkiny look. A creamy froth ensues to give the ale a handsome cap that retains the session easily and laces the glass with intermittent pocketing.

Aromas are surprisingly of baking pumpkin and decorative spice. Somewhat starchy, the fresh cut gourde-like aroma equals that of biscuity malt, light yogurt and something akin to pasta. Its lightly toasted character is like bread crust as the scent transitions to cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove and pepper.

Its inquisitive aroma translates directly to taste and the sweet and starch interplay teases the palate. The fresh gourde flavor is as much of butternut squash as it is pumpkin but gives the beer a bready taste with light dough and yeast. Its balance is lightly of pie spices but is careful not to tread too roughly on its medium-sweet flavor. As the spices turn from bright to bitter, the woodish taste of hops set in and give the beer a dry, stemmy taste to close.

Medium bodied, the overall starchy whole wheat bread character wraps around the beer's tiny bubbles for a creamy texture to amplify the starch effect. But as the sweet starchiness and carbonation retreat, the middle palate is left somewhat naked and wavering. As the taste turns bitter, so does the astringent bite of boiled spice for an unsettled prickle on the back of the tongue.

The good news is that Great Pumpkin Ale is front and center with actual pumpkin taste and texture. The problem is that its front and center with actual pumpkin taste and texture. We don't eat pumpkin pie for the flavor of the pumpkin; we enjoy it for all the sweetness, richness and spiciness as pumpkins add little culinary value to the dessert plate. And this beer favors the gourde just a little too much.

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Photo of oline73
3.76/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Pours a clear amber with a ton of off white head. Smells a bit sweet with some spice and an almond like note. Taste is a bit spicy with mild pumpkin. Hints of apple juice. The carbonation detracts from the flavor.

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Photo of jlindros
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big fizzy 1.5 finger head fades at a semi quicker pace with some soapy lacing, over somewhat hazy orange-ish carrot colored beer.

Nose has some nice pumpkin, a bit of fresh pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling, very light toasty malts, some light pie spices as well, a light nutmeg/hazelnut like aroma.

Taste starts lighter as well, some light toasty almost bready malts, a light sweetness and juicy malt like flavors. Then come the light pumpkin, a mix of fresh pumpkin and light pie filling again. Spices come through but again lighter, with hints of nutmeg, hazelnut, allspice, etc. Hint of bitterness I think from spices and maybe a hint of hops. Finish is a bit drier which helps, touch of light malt and pumpkin lingering, as well as a bit more bitterness.

Mouth is lighter bodied, decent carb.

Overall decent, nice light and clean, light bitterness from some light hops and spices balance the light malts and nice pumpkin well. Spices come out more on the nose than taste which is how I think it should be. Good pumpkin addition overall and doesn't try to overpower anything. very drinkable and tasty beer.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear copper, with a couple fingers of foamy slightly off-white head. This retains with a thin fizzy layer that stays a touch richer on the edges and leaves back some very faint lace. The aroma smells of fresh and juicy pumpkin flesh, which seems to just jump out of the glass. Notes of herbal hops and some slight veggie character hangs on the edges, while sweet and sugary malt flavors sits along the back. The pumpkin spics are a bit more on the subdued side but I’m enjoying that aspect of this, as it keeps the overall focus of the nose on that pumpkin character.

The taste follows the aroma with a bright pumpkin flavor that has a real sweet juiciness to it. Almost like a piece of ripe cantaloupe and there is maybe a touch of a roasted edge to the flavor as well. Hops add an earthy and citric bitterness to this but it’s not overly assertive, instead adding some needed crispness to this. Doughy sugars sit along the back the profile and while offering up some balance here, mostly works with the sweetness of the pumpkin to help pop that flavor a little more. The spice is tad more forceful than it was in the nose but seems like the perfect amount is scattered throughout the taste here and finishes this with a festive feeling smack. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and crisp on the tongue before moving out onto the palate with more of a softer foamy creaminess. The combination of crisp and smoothness to the carbonation just fits the flavors here perfectly.

I really have to offer up kudos here to the CBC and Mercury Brewing Company for getting this right in bottle form. This is very close to what you would find on tap at the brewpub (I just had some at the Great Pumpkin Fest this past weekend) and this had got to be one of thee mostly authentic tasting and easy drinking pumpkin beers out there. I love that this is in bottles and look forward to grabbing some each fall when we are up in New England.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.96/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On-tap 11/12/2014 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a bright coppery red color, with a thin white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains strong spices like ginger & nutmeg along with pumpkin, caramelized malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of ginger, nutmeg and pumpkin. Then a hearty malt character comes in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this is a definitely one of the better Pumpkin Beers that I’ve had.

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Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Cambridge Brewing

A: The beer pours the expected copper color with a finger of off-white head.

S: A rather subtle pie spice aroma, which is kind of surprising. Just a touch of vanilla along with pumpkin, toasted malt, and toffee. There are a couple spices that do come through a bit more, namely nutmeg and cinnamon.

T: Fairly sweet with a strong toasted malt and toffee flavor. Like the aroma, a good dosing of nutmeg and cinnamon with a hint of vanilla and pumpkin. Again, it is certainly spiced, but not overly so.

M: The body and carbonation are both medium.

O: Seems the folks at Cambridge are pretty adept at brewing pumpkin beers.

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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 smcolw
3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Lasting thin head after the initial fluffiness. Leaves only a couple of spots. The color is gold with a mild chill haze.

Some spiciness to the smell, not much pumpkin.

Notable cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice. I can detect light pumpkin. The aftertaste is lightly sour. Thin with an above average level of carbonation.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip.

a - Pours a hazy dark orange-copper color with one finger of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Light lacing left on the glass and an inch of head throughout drinking it.

s - Smells of spices, pumpkin, bready malts, light cinnamon, and light ginerbread. Pretty nice, and a little heavy on the spices.

t - Tastes of spices, pumpkins, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, and bready malts. Again, heavy on spices, thought the gingerbread comes through a bit more than the nose. A small step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate to high carbonation. Pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall a good pumpkin ale. Seemed a bit heavy on the spices, especially in the nose, but a good pumpkin ale. Very easy to drink and would like to have it again.

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Photo of stakem
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Kegatron for hooking me up with this fine brew. Poured from a bomber (batch 01, bottled Sept 2011) into a shaped pint glass. The brew appears a hazed copper color that is hazed. Some golden coloration appears around the edges. 2.5 fingers worth of yellowish stained head sits atop the brew with a bold, uneven topping of froth. Patches and finger-like patterns of lace reach upward from the top of the liquid.

The smell of this brew is pretty darn nice. Pumpkin flesh is noted immediately with some green veggie character. A little bit of sulfur and some herbal hops keep this in check reminding you that this is in fact a beer. The herbal character of the hops plays a very nice contrast to the seemingly sweetness of the pumpkin flesh. More smells reveal a caramel hint of sweetness mixed with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and maybe something a little brighter like ginger. This isn't the most pumpkin forward flavored brew I have had, but the mixture of character to the nose presents itself in a very pleasing and not too spiced aspect. Very well done.

The taste of this brew is earthy with pumpkin flavor that is a mixture of toasted quality and raw almost veggie aspects. The hops provide a nice amount of herbal bitterness which is enjoyable and really works that earthen feel throughout this flavor. Nutmeg is noted lightly mid palate and a bit of cinnamon comes into the finish that clashes a bit with the herbal bitterness. At times there is a bit of a fruity sweet alcohol touch. The grain inclusion is toasty with a bit of bready to biscuit attribute. The flavor that stays on the tongue right before the swallow is perfect, it is a perfect balance of pumpkin to spice ratio.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. This is quite a dry, herbal and bitter representation of the style which is quite enjoyable. As far as spicing goes, I think CBC has nailed this one perfectly. Any more spices and it would have been a bit distracting, any less and it just wouldnt have been enough to withstand the inclusion of the hops and grain. I am loving the level of alcohol in this one, its something I am happy to pour a second glass of. Thanks again Heath!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.67/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured on-tap and served in a shaker pint at the brewpub, the beer is a light, slightly hazed, orange-gold coloring with a filmy, clingy, white surface coat of head. Nose is subtle, with nutmeg spice and pumpkin richness. Flavors of pumpkin and spice blend, with a very rich undertone. Roast into the aftertaste, with subtle spices building as you go. Smooth bodied, with a well blended, clean finish. Easy drinker.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.01/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

First ever bottling of this beer, sent to me in the Secret Halloween BIF from Carl, thanks! 22 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A: Semi-hazy orange golden copper body, with a slightly off-white head made up of tight little bubbles. Fairly quick dissipation leaving behind a thin cap and absolutely no lace at all. Typical for the style, as I rarely see any pumpkin ales leave anything behind.

S: Pumpkin flesh, allspice and nutmeg with an overall extremely watery character to it. All the flavors smell diluted. Touches of cinnamon towards the end, but aside from the actual pumpkin flesh, there isn't much from the spice side here.

T: Again, pumpkin flesh along with slight cinnamon notes, clove and hints of bready pie crust. It's not big in flavor but tries to showcase actual pumpkin flavor, almost to a fault. Pumpkin itself doesn't impart much flavor into the beer, but if that's what they were going for than so be it. The flavors are still very diluted on the palate as they were in the aroma, watery and dull.

M: Quite thin and watery on the palate with lots of tiny bubbles all over. After looking at the low ABV on the bottle, 4.4%, I can understand the thinner body but to me this takes away too much from the overall experience.

I was extremely excited to try this beer, but this left a whole lot to be desired for a pumpkin ale. I'm not looking for something overly sweet, spicy and sugary but I am looking for some flavor. This was way too light on everything, albeit was extremely easy drinking. A lot of fine tuning needs to be done to make this stand-out among all the other beers in the style.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.18/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Received this in a spur of the moment trade with Ericwo... Thanks Eric!! Pours a pale orange with an off white head... good retention with little lacing.

Nose shows a lighter spicing than many pumpkin beers... I am thankful. Light cinnamon and possibly some nutmeg or mace... a bit of real "pumpkin" in the aroma... fairly light across the board.

Flavor mirrors the aroma with a little toasty maltiness thrown in to the mix.. Flavors are light... even a little watery.. mouthfeel is a bit thin accentuated by a hefty carbonation level.

Not my thing..


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Photo of puboflyons
3.39/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From the 60 ml bottle. 2015 batch. Sampled on Nov 1, 2015.

Dark amber-orange with an amber short-lived head.

The aroma has some pumpkin spices and a light nutmeg character.

Medium body.

The taste brings out the nutmeg and cinnamon spices I was hoping for and they work well with this beer but not extraordinary.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Great Pumpkin ale starts with a minimum head and leaves liitle lace. Very noticeable spices - nutmeg, cinnamon. The brewer puts 125 pounds of pumpkin in each 300 gallon batch and this is clearly noticeable. Excellent seasonal - good malt/hop mix.
The ABV is 4.2%.

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Photo of rudzud
4.14/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this at Julio's.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a nice light amber well, pumpkin colour with a good creamy oen figner head that fades to leave light haloing.

S - Nice sweet malts and big roastd veg aromas. Some nice spice notes too (allspice, nutmeg, etc.).

T - Really nice flavors, but not quite as good as the nose. Nice sweet malts and rich, roasty squash (pumpkin). Solid pumpkin flavour and spice notes.

M - Nice mouthfeel for something such a low ABV. Nice carbonation here, keeps things very drinkable.

O - Really enjoyed this pumpkin beer. That being said, I remember it being a little steap in price. If thats the case, I wouldn't buy again, but if this was cheap I'd buy more of it.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.17/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Body is hazy. The color of The Great Pumpkin is the toasted orange. Head is thin. Consistency of the head is a mix of froth and bubbles. Head leaves thick lacing rings.

S-What a nose. Perhaps the most enticing and inviting Pumpkin Ale aroma I have come across. The nose has a real gourdy pumpkin aroma. Spice is perfectly integrated. Cinnamon and nutmeg only complement the pumpkin, rather than overpowering the gourd. Fresh pumpkin pie (the malt accentuates the pie crust aroma). Great.

T-The flavor is just a shade less pleasurable than the nose. Pumpkin vine and pumpkin flesh. Ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Subtle bready malt. A hint of yeast. Once the palate adjusts to the flavor, the flavor begins to match the excellence of the nose. The pumpkin flavor is incredibly natural. Surprising hoppiness too.

M-Feels much fuller than a beer clocking in at 4.4%. Liquid pumpkin pie. Spritzy carbonation. Spice lingers on the tongue. I really wish this was a six pack beer.

O/D-Could this be my favorite Pumpkin Ale? Southern Tier Pumpking and Smutty's Pumpkin may have something to say about that. However, this is blatantly in the same tier. Pretty delicious. Cambridge brews great libations!

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Photo of barczar
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a slightly hazy copper orange with a frothy light beige head.

Pumpkin, ginger, and grain form the initial aroma. Spices are fairly subtle, but cinnamon and clove emerge. There's a hint of floral hop character.

Flavor reveals an underlying squash character throughout. The malt backbone is toasted and fairly bready. Spices are again subtle, gently adding pumpkin pie character with notes of clove and nutmeg. Nutty notes surface as it warms.

Body is moderate, with moderate carbonation that's prickly.

In comparison to most pumpkin ales, relatively subtle and understated. Pumpkin forward, but still very much a beer. Not terribly impressed.

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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 tigg924
3.62/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: one inch head, orange-gold in color, clear, high carbonation

Smell: nutmeg, pumpkin, and pumpkin spice

Taste: sweet caramel and bready start followed by pumpkin spice in the middle that continues to the end. There are slight hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: sweet and spicy with slight bitterness at the end, moderate-high carbonation, medium bodied

Drinkability: This one falls in the middle of the pumpkin beers I have had this season. Above average, but I have had better. I would be really curious to have this on tap. Subtle, I would reach for others first, but would not pass this over if offered to me.

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Photo of DrJay
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear orange/amber with a dense, white head. Thick, solid rings of lace and great retention. The spices jump right out in the aroma - clove and nutmeg mostly, but with some cinnamon as well. In fact, there's so much spice that it's a little sharp. The flavour is completely different. The spices are still there, but are very subdued. The pumpkin flavour from the fruit really shines throughout, with clove and nutmeg lingering in the finish. It reminded me of really good pumpkin pie. Medium body and carbonation. Strange soft dryness and a solid texture. This is easily one of the best pumpkin ales I've had. The flavour of pumpkin is very pronounced and it's not just all spices.

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Photo of Brad007
3.56/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice amber hue with a touch of orange into my glass. I tried to avoid seasonal ales but I couldn't resist.

Pumpkin pie in the aroma, thanks in part to a decent amount of nutmeg. Nothing bad to say since it is a pumpkin ale.

Nutmeg compliments the base malt. Very mellow. Spicy. Clean finish.

A decent pumpkin ale here. No pretensions. Just flavor.

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Photo of Viggo
3.48/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewpub.

Pours a lightly hazed amber/orange, medium sized white head forms, slowly settles down to a thin ring around the glass, leaves some chunks of lace behind.

Smell is interesting, pumpkin, caramel, wheat, quite spicy in the nose, yeast, mace, cloves, a bit sugary, pretty neat but light and a little funky.

Taste is better, lots of pumpkiny sweetness, spices, lightly sour, grassy, wheat, a bit yeasty, good pumpkin flavour and really dry in the finish.

Mouthfeel is light bodied with medium carbonation. Pretty cool, but maybe a little too dry for my liking.

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Great Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 360 ratings.
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