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Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout | Rock Art Brewery

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Pumpkin Imperial Spruce StoutPumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout

Brewed by:
Rock Art Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
"A big stout brewed in the colonial fashion with large amounts of pumpkins and spruce tips added to the kettle for flavor and bittering qualities. The pumpkins compliment the malt flavors, and were used to add sugars to the mash. What ever you do, do not think this is going to taste like pumpkin pie. 50 IBUs."

Added by Brad007 on 09-11-2009

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Reviews: 88 | Ratings: 201
Photo of AshleyMiller
2.5/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

a-translucent dark mahogany with a very limited head that dissipates quickly.

s-very little here. some pine, slight hops, very lacking

t-much like the smell, the taste leaves something to be desired here. no hints of pumpkin, spice, malt. only bitter pines and the slightest hint of coffee, maybe.

m-light, opposite of what i was expecting from a pumpkin imperial stout.

o-very disappointing. the first rock art i've had that i haven't enjoyed. was looking forward to kicking back and enjoying it on a cold, rainy vermont day. it didn't bring me the warmth and fall flavor i hoped for. perhaps it was a bad batch, and i'm certainly willing to give rock art the benefit of the doubt on this one.

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Photo of fo5s
2.68/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

22oz bottle into a tumbler. No bottle dating, but this is new this year and I got it off the shelf just after thanksgiving.

Pours the deepest brown - not quite black here. Creamy 2-finger head suggests healthy carbonation.

Smell isn't surprising, typically nose of an imperial stout crossed with some zing, which I'm assuming is from the spruce tips. Not sure what to make of them - not spicy, not overpowering, but different.

Yikes, this is all over the place. Pumpkin is hardly noticeable (bottle disclaims that this won't taste like a pumpkin pie, but that's fitting for many pumpkin ales) behind a full palate of sprucy confusion. It's tough to distinguish how the base imperial stout is, but coming out of rock art I assume it's solid. Spruce taste lingers through the aftertase...

Actually feels great on the tongue. Carbonation is done well, livelier than I would have expected, but you couldn't go light on it with the strong spruce flavors to work with.

Drinkability? Not so much. Man I wish I had someone to split this bomber with me. The spruce becomes overpowering, almost repulsive by the end of the bottle.

Don't get me wrong, I like what rock art did here, and I'm a huge fan of the brewery in general. After being unsuccessful in tracking this one down, I finally stumbled across a bottle...and was deeply disappointed. This is more of a concept beer than a drinkable representation of the style. I likely won't revisit until rock art revises the recipe, but I do think this one has good potential if the balance is done right. (Note, I also recognize I'm off consensus here).

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Photo of liddytime
2.7/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

What the....?!?! Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout?!?!

OK, I am pretty open minded when it comes to experimental brews, but I truly believe three things that should not go together are pumpkin, spruce and imperial stout. Nevertheless, I was willing to give this concoction a shot.

It pours a dark brown to black. Not completely opaque, but nearly so. Is is topped with an inch or so of fluffy foam that quickly dissipates.

As far as the nose goes, one does appreciate minty and piney notes... the spruce maybe? The sweetness of the pumpkin is also noticeable over the roasted notes of the stout.

The taste is quite unique. Typical toasted, chocolate stout flavors come through but they are backed up by the sweetness of the pumpkin and the minty-ness of the spruce. The hops provide additional bitterness to the mix. The balance of it all is just a bit off. My wife ( a stout afficionado) described it as "tasting like shoe-polish ".

I think this would be a good beer if it was kept simply as an imperial stout. The pumpkin and spruce really do add odd, unbalanced flavors which are totally unnecessary. Sometimes less really is more.

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Photo of Gosox8787
2.86/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Presentation: Bomber bottle poured into a snifter glass in two parts. This is my first taste of a Rock Art beer, and this combines two of my favorite styles, pumpkin and stout.

Appearance: Black in color with a two finger medium brown head and good retention. About par for the course for most stouts.

Aroma: It's hard to identify one note that is standing out more than the others. There are espresso, bitter pine, and some sweet pumpkin. The spruce tips provide the pine and also sting a little bit. They really mask some of the other aromas, but not the alcohol burn.

Taste: A nice balance of sweet pumpkin and coffee and chocolate notes from the malt for a second upfront. This part of the beer has some serious promise. Then the added element of the spruce tips make an appearance. They add a harsh, astrigent bitterness to the back end and really give anything else. Just really heavy pine bitternes with no sweet counter. The spruce makes this unbalanced and harsh most of the time.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly thin for a double stout. There's some carbonation here, although its a tad flat. Dry finish.

Drinkability: The ABV being noticable in the nose and taste hurts this as well as the overly bitter and almost unpalatable spruce tips.

Overall, an interesting and different stout, but that doesn't mean a good one. The pumpkin is nice in its ridiculously small role, but the spruce tips are where this beer falls flat. This is my first experience with this ingredient in beers and it completely ruined a nicely balanced stout upfront. They were overly bitter and provided nothing to the taste other than really astrigent pine pitch. This beer was a letdown for me.

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Photo of angelogarcia3
2.87/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

As many of you know, I love stout beers. However, I've run into my first stout beer that I was disappointed with. Rock Art's Imperial pumpkin spruce stout is that beer. A very translucent black color indicates it's weakness in body. A very thin head also tells you not much in carbonation or body. The taste is of burnt coffee with a hint of pine. Moderate bitterness which lingers afterwards.

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Photo of stonermouse
2.94/5  rDev -19%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Sam Adams glass. Drank over about an hour, so had it cool through room temp.

Pours cola-brown, with a head that vanishes quickly. Low carbonation and no lacing at all. Looks like a flat RC Cola.

Aroma is decent, if nondescript. A little coffee comes through, along with, believe it or not, a little cola-like smell. Not quite the overwhelming wallop I expected from an "extreme" beer.

I expected big flavor, and I didn't get it. This is pretty mellow all around. There's a bit of chocolate and coffee, but pretty generic, mild flavors. The advertised pumpkin flavor pretty much didn't exist, and there was a touch of pine, earthiness, and a bit of plain hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is rather dry and thin. Finishes with a bitter and mildly unpleasant dryness.

Not sure what to say about this one. It's a fairly average stout advertised as an "extreme," imperial-type stout. Nothing about this brew is extreme. It's not an offensive brew, but it offers only slightly more than a Guiness in a fancier bottle.

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Photo of Doshkin
2.98/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

a - very dark almost black amber. decent head that dissipated quickly

s - some spicy, hoppy smells. not too strong

t - fair amount of hops for what i expected. bitter. no pumpkin taste at all. this was kind of a weak, hoppy stout

m - bubbly, smooth, spiced

o - this is not very "extreme", as claimed very blatantly across the label. i guess the one good thing about it is that it masks the 8% pretty well. i didn't find this beer particularly impressive in any way. i won't buy it again. would not pick it as a beer to hang out and relax with, and i definitely not drink more than a bottle of it. too bad a got a big bottle to come to these realizations : P

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Bruce for the opportunity to try this one.
Pours a solid dark brown/black color with a smallish off white head that quickly dissipates to a cap. Smells of roast caramel and ash with a spicy earthy menthol aroma that I assume is spruce. This beer smells a bit oxidized or maybe that's a mix of spruce and pumpkin. The flavor is a bit spicy and roasty. Herbal spicy menthol hits up front followed by a roasty caramel and toffee. This finishes with a long lingering bitterness that seems more intense than just hops. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a roasty bitter mouthfeel. This one is certainly out of the box, but it really didn't work all that well for me. The pumpkin is almost non existent and the spruce adds a harsh bitterness that I really couldn't get into.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.04/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle.

Pours a dark cola brown with a thin bubbly tan head. Nose of yam, pine, earth, anise, and holiday spice. Thick, lightly carbonated body. Sweet chocolate and anise flavor, rich malt, not much like you'd expect from other pumpkin beers. More like a pine-y/minty sweet speciality stout.

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Photo of DCon
3.11/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Received a 22 fl oz bottle in a trade w/ LarryG, not sure the estimated price, & shared w/ GeoffTheAleMan. Poured from the Bright Orange bottle with words like "EXTREME", VERMONT, & Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout in Black into a 16oz Samuel Adams Imperial Pint Glass. Does not have a freshness date.

Aroma- VERY strong chocolate aroma with tons of roasted malts. Can sense this is going to be a very strong stout but Spruce?!?! Nothing to do with the season or any type of pumpkin beer so far.

Appearance- Pours a 1 finger, dark brown head that stays and keeps bubbles around. Has a dark brown and mighty viscous body. Leaves thick lacing behind.

Flavor- Strong malts and chocolate once again! Roasty and very great! No pumpkin/spruce once again... Light bitterness at the finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Smooth, and leaves a bit of booziness on the palate.

Overall Impression- Imperial Stout & Spruce OR pumpkin can't be mixed... I was wondering how they were going to feed in Pumpkin or the Spruce characteristics and they didn't... Weak for a pumpkin style but for an Imperial Stout, great! I had to rate this one accordingly (could have been a B or higher, but when they say its a "Spruce Stout", this must be included!). Thanks for the interesting one LarryG!

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Photo of freakdiablo
3.13/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A - Thick dark brown hue, almost black. Heavy, brown head that leaves a lot of lacing that sticks around.

S - Milder. I get a faint scent of malts, and pumpkins. Almost smells like fresh baked pumpkin bread

T - More pumpkin with sweeter malts. Almost sickeningly sweet, nothing really cuts through it. Mild pine flavor in the background, which follows through to the aftertaste.

M - Thick, almost oily with lighter carbonation. If I could describe it in one word, I'd say it was "sticky".

O - Looks pretty and not the worst beer I've had, but I'm not a fan. Even after letting it warm, it's way to sweet for my taste, with nothing really balancing it out. Some may find it to be a good fall/winter beer, but next time I see it, I'll leave it on the shelf.

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Photo of oline73
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours almost black but it is a reddish brown when held up to the light. There is just under a finger of off white head that goes away completely.

Smell: Roasty with some pine and a hint of sweet, dark fruit.

Taste: I don't think all the flavors work together in this beer. There is a strong bitterness that comes from the roast and some pine as well. There is a slight hint of citrus peel in this one too. I'm missing the pumpkin. The finish is bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with very mild carbonation and a finish that is a bit slick.

Overall: I wasn't in love with this beer. I don't think everything worked together and didn't really taste pumpkin.

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Photo of Phelps
3.18/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: dark brown and almost completely opaque, though highlights of amber deepening to crimson are visible after a hold to the light. A long-lingering, half finger head of creamy, sticky tan caps the liquid, leaving thick, groping walls of lace as it recedes.

S: shake hands with mister spruce! The vibrant aroma of the tree is all over this beer, along with coffee and melted dark chocolate in subdued forms.

T: spruce again leads the way with a strong mint-like, herbal bitterness that lingers on the tongue. There's also dark chocolate and coffee again, though the roasted character is a little light for me. A vodka-like alcohol burn is noticeable in the flavor as well. You know what isn't noticeable? Pumpkin! The label advises me to avoid thinking that this beer will taste like pumpkin pie, but for a beer that supposedly used the gourd in the boil, this is devoid of any pumpkin flavor whatsoever.

M: medium-light in body but nicely smooth, with a massaging medium carbonation.

D: the beer is pretty middling as a stout and fails miserably as a pumpkin beer. The flavors of spruce and roast just never seem to get along, and the alcohol content -- fairly low for the style -- hits harder than many beers I've had with higher ABVs.

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Photo of claspada
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aromas are all stout; coffee and chocolate are the biggest elements, then at the background there is a slight herbal note from either the spruce tips or hops, can't really tell to be honest.

The tastes are also very American stout. Once again coffee and cocoa are the biggest characteristics in the flavor, in addition on the palate the spruce/ herbal flavors make a small appearance, however the pumpkin isn't noticeable at all. Which is quite disappointing

This is a decent offering from Rock Art, not a bad stout at all, but false advertising if you ask me because there is no Pumpkin, unless I am just desiring the spice characteristics of the typical Pumpkin ale. This is no Cape Ann Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout, that is a great beer worth searching out for if you want a dark Pumpkin beer. This didn't work as well as I hoped. The beer was good, just didn't live up to my expectations.

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Photo of harrymel
3.22/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This beer was worth trying, it is far from a standard pumpkin beer with extensive spruce addition and little else to offer. The beer is worthy trying, but seems more like a novelty save the opportunity for a gin lover’s beer to shine. Looks average brown with some low carb evidence. Spruce nose. Some medium body and lower carb and dry finish.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two finger light tan head that fades slowly leaving some lace. Opaque brown color, some yeast left in bottle. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Spruce nose. Brewer is right - nothing like pumpkin pie, spruce (there's a whole forest here) adds the bitterness, malts are in background, not finding much pumpkin. $4.54 for a 22oz bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On cask at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill. Served in a small goblet. A thin, off-white, head sits on top of an almost black body. Almost no lacing.

Dark malts with a sweetness that is hard to explain make up most of the aroma. Has some odd bitter grassiness to it as well. Kind of one dimensional and odd.

Chocolate with a touch of vegetable-like sweetness rolls across the tongue. Some hop bitterness with a possible touch of pumpkin. Almost seems more like squash. A slightly minty/evergreen/bitterness on the finish. Like the nose, the flavor is different, but still intriguing.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a good body. Touch of warming alcohol. Low carbonation, but that's expected with a cask conditioned beer.

Drinkability is average. This is an odd beer that was probably made even stranger by putting it on cask. Hard to tell what exactly is going on. Not bad, and I keep taking sips because I'm intrigued, but I'm not really enjoying it all that much. Still interested in trying the bottled version though.

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Photo of rudzud
3.37/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a dark, dark brown almost black. The kicker is the fact that there is hardly any head! Even with an aggressive pour! What I got was less than one finger of light off white/tan head, left barely any side lacing, and left some light clumps of thin lacing on the brew.

S - Some nice chocolate notes and definate pine/spruce. Pretty interesting smells. Almost, almost like a really, really rich black IPA. Can't pick up any pumpkin at all though which is a huge disappointment.

T - Like the nose big chocolate flavors along with piney/spruce notes. Not IPA style pine, but legitimate pine (in a good way). Again, sadly, like the nose I pick up NO pumpkin.

M - Not nearly as thick as I would expect for a stout, let alone an imperial stout. Not heavy at all, almost watery. Again, I compare this to a black IPA. Would be a nice one, but a poor mouthfeel for an imperical stout!

D - This is a good drink, but not a good stout at all. The flavor is good, but pumpkin is misleading. The mouthfeel is far too watery for a stout, and I miss a good head. Flavor is good though.

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Photo of philbe311
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - A finger and a half worth of tightly packed slightly creamy medium khaki colored head with a bit of a batter-like top... Modest retention gives ay to a full but slightly lopsided veil of lacing... The color is a deep dark brown... Only a couple of stray carbonation bubbles can be seen rising on the sides of the glass towards the top...

S - Fairly subdued... The spruce notes are rather muted... Some notes of molasses... Very lightly roasted malts... The pumpkin is quite subtle and buried beneath the surface... Very faint chocolate notes...

T - The spruce tips assert themselves on the palette and provide a surprising bitterness... Some lightly roasted malts... Very faint coffee notes...

M - Medium bodied... A bit thin... A light bit of sharp carbonation... A slightly awkward finish that tends to linger for a while...

D - While I didn't expect a blast of pumpkin, as many have said, it is almost completely absent... The spruce tips provide a unique flavor which prove to be a bit challenging... The mouthfeel really detracts from this one overall... Far from a drain pour, but not one I would neither recommend nor purchase again...

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown with a clay colored head. Hard pour sprung a sticky foam cone. Decent retention.

Faint aroma. Dry Ovaltine powder with some old pine needles. As it warms it sorta smells like menthol cigarette butts.

This beer tastes fairly similar to when I mix chocolate whey protein with dark roast iced coffee. Not as strong as that concoction but the same flavor. Mocha I guess. Has a roast malt flavor without any actual roastiness. Dull mint in back which I'm guessing is from the spruce tips.

The bottle warns the buyer to not expect pumpkin pie and the bottle spoke truthfully. It's a colonial take on using pumpkin in beer where the gourd is utilized for it's sugars rather than dousing a beer with pie spices and extracts. Nifty idea and a solid beer.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.41/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 8.0% ABV, 50 IBU, no date.

Thanks to Thorpe429 for another pumpkin beer!

A - Clear on the pour and totally black in the glass, this stout is topped by a bold, three-finger head. Fantastic retention and some thick lace make it a sexy looking stout.

S - It predominantly smells of roasted malts with subtleties of coffee and dark chocolate which makes this much more of a stout than anything else. Spruce is almost absent from the nose while pumpkin is missing all together. Aroma is a bit thin for a double.

T - Rich roasted malt mirrors the aroma with a hefty helping of dark chocolate and low coffee notes. The spruce is much stronger in the flavor but I still don't get any pumpkin in this.

M - Rich and full-bodied, it's a bit thicker than the aroma makes it out to be. It's very smooth but the light spruce seems to aid in bringing out this light solvent alcohol finish. There's a low bitterness that seems to be a roasted malt and hop combo.

D - Another pumpkin stout let-down to be brutally honest. I picked up no pumpkin in this at all. It should have been one or the other in the brew, not both additions. As a spruce stout it's good, but it's called Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout. Reasonably drinkable for a strong stout.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on tap at Rock Art Brewery into a taster shaker pint glass.

A dark brownish red body, pretty dark, presented with a faint tan collar. Looks inviting.

Nose is quite diverse. Cola soda. Beech nut and nutmeg. THere's a little bit of faint spicy toffee in the background. This smells very strange, and nothing like a pumpkin beer.

Taste seems to match the nose quite correctly. No sense of dense pumpkin body, lots of burnt charcoal without any sweet grainy tastes. Finishes with hop pine and a twiggy woody character no doubt because of spruce tips added I am guessing. Finish is wet and also a little burning.

Interesting beer, probably like it because it doesn't taste like a regular pumpkin beer, but not really drawn to wanting this again.

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Photo of tigg924
3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: high carbonation, 1/4 head, garnett brown, clear

Smell: toasted malt, nutmeg, little pumpkin

Taste: burnt malt, expresso, pine, and a bit of pumpkin towards the end.

Mouthfeel: medium high carbonation, medium heavy body, biting, and slightly bitter.

Drinkability: This works well if you are expecting an imperial stout in the Victory storm king vien. This does not work if you are expecting anything resembling pumpkin. The pumpkin is very muted. This is a sipper, but not a personal favorite of mine. I may have this again due to uniqueness, but one per sitting at most.

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Photo of ikats
3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark ruby with a wonderful brown head that dissolves slowly (some time in and there is still noticeable head). Aroma is a bit difficult to analyze (my sense of smell is terrible to begin with). Roasted notes. Maybe a bit of sweetness. There is a hoppy component there too. At first taste this beer hit me pretty good. Any sweetness in the aroma is relegated to the background and this beer is all about dryness. Very dry with a touch of bitterness in the back and a touch of sweetness on the lips. As you drink it, the beer feels smooth, but dry aftertaste may not be pleasing to everybody. Personally, I'm enjoying it. My first thought - ice cream (I have a weak spot for stouts with vanilla ice cream). I think it would play nicely off this stout's dryness. Medium body. Somewhat warming.

I will not be reaching out for this beer often, but on a winter day it will be delicious with a dessert. My mom and dad brought me this beer from their trip to Vermont (I only mention it because I always enjoy when people bring me beer as souvenirs).

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

A: It's hard to get a feel for the color in dim lighting, but it looks to be charcoal black. An active, bubbly tan head quickly sputters into nothing. Not much lacing to speak of, just a few specks here and there.

S: Roasted malt scents of bakers chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Cola. Strong aroma of fresh pine needles and fir trees. Bit of a minty quality. Andes mints. Coffee beans underneath. An interesting nose, to say the least. Aromatic, but not very complex and exotic to the point of being a bit odd.

T: Strong hit of pine needles and mint on the attack. Roasty malt tastes behind this. Charcoal, black cocoa powder, black coffee. Bitter dark chocolate with a touch of acidity. Touch of vague fruitiness. Eventually the pine goes away altogether and the bitter, roasted acidity takes charge. Try as I might, I can't pinpoint any pumpkin. Finishes with bitter dark chocolate, acidic black coffee, and charcoal.

M: Medium bodied. Slightly firm malt texture, but it isn't enough. Little to no carbonation. Not much here.

O: The spruce tips sure do make things interesting, but they can't hide the fact that this is a pretty average beer otherwise. Oh, and where's the pumpkin?

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Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout from Rock Art Brewery
3.63 out of 5 based on 201 ratings.
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