Great Pumpkin Ale | Cambridge Brewing Company

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 dheacck11
3.61/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour is a remarkably pumpkiny looking beer. Nice dark orange/amber, just a hint of red. Off white light, crispy head which lingers.

Nose is nice and sweet and toasty. Good notes of pumpkin spice, some sweet maltiness, not too potent.

Taste is also pretty mild overall. Some initial sweet, soft malts, followed by a little burst of nutmeg and cinammon. Finish is really mellowed, and almost straw like, lagery.

Feel is pretty thin overall. Even a bit watery on the finish.

Decent pumpkin ale. Tastes more like an english brown with some spices added. Would like some more body and flavor punch personally.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.24/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass the beer was rust colored with a small light tan head. Nice color.

The aroma was a nice balance between the pumpkin and the spice.

Cinnamon and nutmeg up front, followed by the pumpkin and malt.

This was a very smooth beer. Unlike a lot of pumpkin beers, the spice wasn't overwhelming, and the pumpkin came through nicely.

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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 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 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 DrinkSlurm
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle into crooked stave tulip. Purchased at Julio's for $2.99 on sale!
Pours an orange with slight amber/burnt hue. Some off white bubbly foam. Nice mild crisp spice and slight veg/pumpkin aromas. Very mild...
Taste is a crisp mild ale, with good spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and then the pumpkin. It actually tastes like pumpkin flesh, very nice. Its a super easy drinker, well balanced, and the spice character is not so overwhelming...worth a try; just wish the abv was bumped a bit higher.

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Photo of KalH
4.07/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Yellow and orange hued / Pretty clear for being labeled as "unfiltered".

A - Sugar / Sweet raw, pumpkin flesh with cinnamon and nutmeg underneath.

T - Said sweet pumpkin flesh with a dry cinnamon and raw sugar finish.

M - The clean finish and light body on this is what I noticed first with the even carbonation following suit.

O - The overall lightness of this brew was a bit detracting - though it makes it easy to drink. Think I was expecting this to be a bit thicker. The sweetness mentioned sticks around for a while, almost too long IMO, but I very much enjoyed the pumpkin flavor. This was more of a raw pumpkin flesh-infused ale than one with the typical pumpkin pie vibe. Big fan of what CBC does and this is recommended as a good fall offering.

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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 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 colts9016
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you very much Donkeyrunner for this bottle.

Poured into a pint glass at 45 degrees.

Appearance: A very nice one finger head that is foamy and creamy with really good retention. The color of the beer is an amber orange hue with light copper color. The clarity of the beer is slightly opaque with some cloudiness. Carbonation bubbles are going a mile a minute.

Nose: A rich complex malt that is toasted with some caramelization. The pumpkin aroma is not that strong in the beer but present with a cooked note. The spices I can detect is nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Other aroma is citrus, herbal and floral esters.

Taste: A nice pumpkin flavor with a complex malt tones of caramel, sugars, and toasty note. The spice is there but not over powering, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are the general make up. The hops profile is slightly muted but noticeable with some citrus, herbal, and floral ester.

Mouth feel is carbonated, tad astringent, and crisp.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium light and the finish is medium. I really dig this beer. The beer presents well on the palate and is well made. I am so glad that I got to try this; also this beer sure does not disappoint.

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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 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 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 ACD
2.69/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle

Served in pint glasses with a cinnamon sugar rim

appearance - poured great and looked great! A nice creamy head on it

smell- nothing strong or distinctive about it, but also nothing bad

taste- I was disapointed. After reading all the great reviews about it, I thought there would be more of a taste to it. Seemed very average to actually blah!

mouth-feel- overall it was very easy drinking beer and on the smoother side, which is what I like, but nothing outstanding about it.

overall- not a bad beer , but nothing to really write home about as well. There are so many great pumpkin beers out there now that I don't think I would go back to this one.

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Photo of BostonHops
3.7/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on-tap at the franklin cafe, boston MA 12/18/10. review from notes. (last beer to be transitioned from backlog to review form. woot.)

served in a chilled shaker pint glass. ah, well. pours a mostly clear copper tone with a finger of off-white head. middling retention, lacing. somewhat subdued nose is broken down into pumpkin, spice, a hint of clove, and caramel malt.

flavor follows the aroma. again, on the subtle side. you don't walloped with that bold, in-your-face pumpkin/spice combo (which i'm partial to in my pumpkins) that's so common nowadays, but moderately enjoyable nonethess. would be more appreciated by those who like their pumpkins more nuanced. medium-bodied, medium carbonation mouthfeel, definitely very drinkable, something i'd be inclined to session.

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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 angrybabboon
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this

Review adapted from notes taken 9/18/11

Note: Batch 01, Bottled Sept 2011

Appearance: A beautiful dark orange - pretty clear, fizzy, white head that leaves a nice ring

Smell: Great, quite literally smells like a pumpkin - the usual suspects for spices (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, clove) - vanilla, too - nicely balanced spice profile - but the impressive thing here is the pumpkin flesh aroma

Taste: A lot of pumpkin - note that this is not a pumpkin pie beer, but a straight-up pumpkin beer - pumpkin flesh, pumpkin seeds - squashy, vegetal, in the best way possible - nicely spiced - spicy, but not aggressive - perhaps a little tart - caramel and lightly toasted malts in the background

Mouthfeel: Great carbonation, smooth, but could be smoother, medium body

Overall: Yeah, it's great

This is a great pumpkin beer. It's decidedly not imperial and decidedly balanced. I would love to see this in six-packs. It's easy drinking, and full of fleshy pumpkin goodness.

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Photo of gkatsoris
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Golden honey in color. Super murky (love it). Huge head, almost a gusher. Lots of lacing and again, really murky.

S: Pumpkin Rind! Crazy cinnamon. Uber fresh pumkpin, like it was just carved. Apple butter, and pumpkin butter. Clove. Sweet potatoe pie.

T: Fresh pumpkin. NOT pumpkin pie, but just plain pumpkin. A little bit of clove, and a hint of cinnamon. Fresh apples. The last thing I taste is a little vanilla.

M: Very very balanced. Thin and chewy, if that makes sense.

O: Honestly, I am not partial to pumpkin beers, mostly because they are made to taste like pumpkin pie. But this brew dared to make a pumpkin beer taste like pumpkin. I am more than impressed.

Thanks monsterzero!

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.32/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Quite disappointed with this one after much hype surrounding this beer. Pours a slightly cloudy golden orangish amber in color with a medium and tight white head that stuck around to produce a small amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is mild of bready yeasts, pumpkin pie spices and very slight of pumpkin itself. Not impressed. Flavor is pretty mild all around with pumpkin spices with just a hint of pumpkin fruit. Watery and slightly bitter finish. Expected more out of this well-hyped pumpkin beer.

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Photo of JustinAniello
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours clear orange with a one finger head. Dissipates to a light lacing and cap.

S - Heavy aroma of astringent pumpkin with mild spices in the background.

T - Starts with sweet malts and spice, like cinnamon and sugar. Heavy pumpkin comes on the swallow, lightly sour. A mild pumpkin seed aftertaste takes up the finish.

M - Medium body and light carbonation. Slightly syrupy feel to it. Works excellently with the flavor.

O - This is a very good pumpkin beer and one of the best I have tried this season. Has a nice pumpkin taste, not heavily astringent like many of the other pumpkin ales I have had. Heavily recommend if you happen to be in the Boston area to try out some of CBC's brews.

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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 Durge
3.38/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A hazy golden amber color with a decent white fluff on top and fair traces of spotty lacing. The aroma is skunky swamp squash with a hint of cardboard. Not exciting me but not a game ender. The flavor is a bright orange pumpkin squash with an Alka-Seltzer feel. This is definitely a vegetable beer. No real hop presence, very little sweetness or spice touch, just bare bones authentic raw pumpkin with a soda-like feel. Thin bodied with a hint of woodsy-leafy almond. It becomes more palatable as you finish it but this is far from my favorite pumpkin beer. Interesting but not delectable.

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Photo of Dope
3.77/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A very cloudy orange pour. Decent white head with just a hint of orange in it. Retention is so-so and almost no lacing.

S: Very subtle smell. Just a touch of pumpkin and nutmeg. Not much else that I can discern.

T: Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. Maybe just a hint of pumpkin. Sweet at the start and in the middle and just a brief hit of some earthy bitterness in the aftertaste. Pumpkin spice flavor is very long lasting, sticks to your mouth. All flavors are pretty mild as this is a low ABV beer.

M: Very thin but not watery at least. All smells and flavors are pretty mild. A good departure from the high ABV pumpkin monsters (Pumking for example).

O: Interesting take on a pumpkin ale. Once of the mildest I've ever had, it's almost hard to discern the flavors sometimes. Wish it was a little stronger but it accomplishes what it came to do. Well balanced spices with the pumpkin and nothing is too dominating.

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