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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 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 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 ATPete
4.37/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle

Had a few of these this season, very well done Rock Art. First of all, it tells you right on the bottle NOT to expect pumpkin pie, it also goes on to explain how and why the pumpkins were used in this stout. It pours a deep, rich brown color with a lasting tan head. Nose of sweet malts, a hint of maple syrup and a balancing hop presence, minty and resinous. A perfect, creamy and overall medium bodied mouthfeel. The 8% is nowhere to be found, so drinkable for its size. Roasty where it should be, sweet where it should be and balanced all the way. This stout truly screams Fall to me for some reason. Great stout Rock Art.

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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 alpinebryant
4.11/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a pitch dark brown with a thick tan head on tap. An unexpected beer at an Oktoberfest that I was happy to see. Never saw the "Spruce" labeling on the paper plate, but now I understand this beer more. Head hung out for a long time with a thick cocoa ring.

Smelled of pine, dark roasted malts, very light pumpkin pie spices, and coffee. Tasted of just that, nice chocolate and Coffee mixing with light pumpkin pie spices. There was a good body to it and it was mutedly earthy which I really enjoyed. There are not many pumpkin beers out there that remind you of the good earth without spices smacking you hard in the face .

Definitely recommended, this was my favorite beer the day I was drinking them.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown with a nice medium tan head. When held up to a light, a decent amount of color shows up in the form of rosewood like hues around the edges. The center swallows up all the light just like a good stout should. This beer has great head retention, and leaves nice lace.

The spruce shows through in the aroma, and while it is not the dominate player, it is the first thing I recognize. I would say the most prominent smell is that of coffee from the roasted malt. There is also a bit of chocolate and a nice rich malty sweetness.

The flavor is not quite like anything I have tried before. I guess this is not surprising since I am not sure how many other pumpkin and spruce stouts there are out there. First off, it has great stouty character to it. It is very roasty with a real burnt coffee character and some rich chocolate. The spruce is not as noticeable as in the aroma, but it is definitely there. The pumpkin is pretty buried, but it does seem like there is a little something something that is augmenting the malt bill. There is a good amount of bitterness in this brew, and some piney hops that accent the spruce tips.

The mouthfeel is somewhere between medium and full and is smooth and satisfying. This drinks a lot like an oatmeal stout, and the finish is pretty darn dry and a touch astringent, but still quite enjoyable.

I am really digging this beer and it's going down quickly. This is a really satisfying stout and not as out there as the name would make you think. I really didn't get any pumpkin, but who cares? This bad boy was delicious.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Many thanks go out to chefmonty for this bottle in the Halloween BIF this year.

A- Poured a black color which was deep in color even when held to the light. One and a half finger brown head has great retention. Nice thick streaky lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- This has a intertesting smell. This of course is not a typical pumpkin beer. Chocoalte malts and light roasted malts come in from the start and stay till the end. The alcohol is very apparent from the middle onward. The spruce tips are very much there in the ending and that really threw me for a loop.

T- Bitter chocolate in the front of the beer. This really comes through the beer for the most part. A light spruce flavor in the middle gets covered up by a coffee ground ending before the spruce has a final bold burst at the tailend of the beer.

M- Medium heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the beer. Bitter chocolate and light spruce left on the palate. Spruce and light alcohol left in the aftertaste with a hint of pumpkin. Alcohol is lightly drying on the palate. The flavors are well balanced and very clean tasting. The flavors are bold and in your face at times.

D- The beer is great tasting. The drinkability on this might vary depending on if you like the spruce tips or not. I personally had no problem drinking my pint of this and wanted more but I split this bottle with a friend. The ABV I think is well hidden. A delight to drink overall interesting take on a pumpkin stout.

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Photo of jlindros
3.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm glad to see others bringing some pumpkin stouts to the table, rather than overspiced ales.

A creamy rich 1 finger head comes on strong, and fades somewhat slowly, leaving a thick lacing on the sides as it fades. The beer is just about pitch black, about as close as it can get without being so. Just the slights hits of light get through the bottom at the stem of the tulip glass.

The nose has some nice creamy stout aromas, more like a milk stout or possible irish stout than anything. A slight roasted malt, some very light chocolate and creamy milk chocolate. Some dark malt aromas, a little coffee and toffee. A very light boozy aroma, and some light bitterness both from some earthy spicy hops and little bit from the roast. Way in the background I get some vanilla, a slight cocoa nibs, and hints of pumpkin.

Taste starts a little chalky surprisingly. It comes on with a dry Irish stout demeanor, but gets a little too chalky tasting, weird. After that is has a slight creamy stout flavor, some light chocolate and vanilla, some light sweetness. Pretty malty though, plenty of dark malts, some roasted malt and coffee, some light chocolate malts, little caramel, etc. A very slight hint of booze too, but not much. It has some bitterness, but not as much as I expect, and hints of earthy hops. As the taste progresses this really different taste starts to come through, it's bitter and piny, and sprucey... oh wait, it's spruce! It doesn't come out at first, but as the taste goes on it comes on, and boy does it let itself be known. It's almost like pine sap in the background and adds a not so pleasant touch. I get just a hint of pumpkin flavor, but it's almost non-existent. It does get a slightly fluffy flavor too late. As it finishes the spruce continues to bomb my mouth. The piny sap like bitterness and dryness is just harsh. The dry finish also brings a strange feel to it that accentuates the spruce too.

The mouth is creamy and pretty rich, a little sticky, and decent carbonation.

It has a lower but tolerable drinkability, with some of that lingering spruce that bombards a little too much. Some stickiness on the finish as well. The bitterness is not typical either, with that spruce flavor, it's pretty beh. But, for the abv of 8% it does drink well which adds some drinkability.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.36/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"This ain't for no mama's boy or daddy's girl."

Pours a dark brown color with a perfect sized tan head, fades really slowly and leaves a cap for a good portion of the time, as it empties my glass, a good amount of sticky lacing is left behind.

Smell is mostly dark roasted malt with a decent hop bitterness to it, very piney.

Taste is predominately roasted malt with a strong piney bitterness, the hop bitterness is rather unique, no doubt a result of using spruce tips (quite interesting!), this has to be one of the hoppiest stouts I've had the pleasure of trying, not picking up any pumpkin at all though which is slightly disappointing but I won't hold it against it, afterall it's not a straight "pumpkin" beer, carbonation is more along the lines of a porter though.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this beer, although I bought it thinking it was an imperial pumpkin beer, not noticing the spruce stout part underneath, haha. At $4 a bomber, I think I'll be revisiting this beer often.

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Photo of nas5755
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured black with a three finger head, lacing is abundant. Nose is slightly lacking as I was expecting to find spruce notes. Roasted malts notes and other stout aromas are present, very standard for a stout. The taste like the nose has your standard stout profiles, no envelopes are pushed, pumpkin is hard to find if noticeable at all(most of the time the spices speak). The spruce is a player in this beer. Big bold pine is the star and it has some serious resin qualities that hold onto the palate and bring out peppery astringent pine notes that coat the palate for long periods of time. A very unique bittering agent that is very enjoyable and should be applauded but this is not for everyone. A nice carbonation level with good smoothness, dry, the resin is fantastic. Something that I would like to revisit. Pine and spruce are becoming some of my favorite bittering agents.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle served in my Old Stock snifter. 2010 vintage. Pours the color and clarity of cola with a loose, half-inch, tan-colored head that quickly disperses towards the edges, forming a bubbly band around the perimeter and a soapy skim dispersed across the surface. Spots and slashes of lacing revealed during the tasting. Nose is difficult to pin down. I'm a bit unfamiliar with all the aromas, but if I had to describe it I would say a slightly creamy/lactic quality hits first, followed by a perfume-like herbal essence with some cocoa notes bringing up the rear. Nice complexity in the flavor profile - Malt, char, muted pumpkin spice and cocoa. Mouthfeel is medium-light, perhaps a bit thin for the style, with a light carbonation, consistent from sip to swallow. I wasn't really sure what to expect from a Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout - I anticipated big, unbalanced flavors, but was pleasantly surprised by the way everything nicely coalesced. Not a big stout by any means, but flavorful without being overly sweet or bitter, and a well-hidden abv. Well worth a try if the opportunity presents.

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Photo of rpstevens
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Portsmouth tulip. The beer pours a deep brown-to-black with a thick, foamy light khaki head. As the head fades there is an adequate amount of oily, bubbly lacing left behind.

The nose on this beer is very interesting. The spruce characteristic is much more prominent than expected, the first whiff from the glass reminds me of a tree farm. Beyond the spruce there is a healthy amount of bitter chocolate, coffee and graham cracker sweetness (normal stout stuff). The pumpkin is an underlying smell that adds to the other components without overpowering them.

The taste is a bit more muddled than the nose. The spruce is not as pleasant, it overpowers the other flavors and is a bit intrusive. The coffee and bitter chocolate notes come in bursts, but the pumpkin takes a definite back seat (it's almost non-existent). The finish is nice and hoppy, which is unexpected. Once the hops hit the tongue it's easy to see how they were hidden in the nose by all the spruce and pumpkin.

The beer is well carbonated, full bodied and has a nice dry (almost bitter) finish. The spruce is a bit overpowering, but the beer is definitely drinkable and interesting. Definitely glad I gave it a try.

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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 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 Pencible
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly opaque dark mahogany with a little tan head.
S: It smelled like chocolate and toffee and cream, with pumpkin and pine needles.
T: It tasted like mocha and pine, with a little pumpkin seed. It had a clean bitter aftertaste.
M: It was somewhat thick with a little carbonation.
D: This was a nice fall beer that was an interesting twist on a classic style. Definitely not pumpkin pie, with well balanced flavors. Nice body too, and hid the alcohol well, so it was pretty easy to drink. Solid brew.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.82/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this one into a tulip. Dark brown with a light tan head. Lookin' good! I smell the pumpkin immediately but it isn't overpowering. Spruce and roasted malts, and a bit of cocoa. This smells really nice and well balanced. This taste really nice, roasty with a nice pumpkin flavor with a lot of spruce. I wouldn't mind seeing that toned down a bit with a little more pumpkin. It finishes nicely with a bit of molasses. The mouthfeel is pleasant. It's smooth with nice carbonation. Very enjoyable and unique pumpkin beer.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a tiny tan head. Smell is near nonexistent. Minimal spruce and roast. Taste is stronger with more spruce and hints of pumpkin. Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. Fairly drinkable; nothig is overdone. One of the better things i've had from Rock Art and fairly unique.

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Photo of baldycmu
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-deep dark brown, almost black with a tan thick head with a good amount of retention.
S-cocoa, molasses and pine? No pumpkin noticeable.
T-bold taste but not as much alcohol taste as I expected. Decent hop backbone with a cocoa sweetness.
M-smooth initially with a bit of bite at the end. Somewhat creamy feel.
D-decent brew and definitely something I would pair with food on a one off basis

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Photo of jnn4v
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown color. Minor amount of medium brown head.

S: Chocolate. Coffee. Hints of pumpkin and pine.

T: Mocha, hints of pine and pumpkin. Clean, but bitter. However, if you're looking for strong pine or spruce flavor, look elsewhere.

M: Somewhat thick with a little carbonation. Reasonable body for the style.

D: Not above average for the genre. Hides the ABV pretty well.

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Photo of youbrewidrink
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle (one fresh & one a year old)

We had these side by each and they were quite different.

They were both a deep brown color quickly disappering head.

The aroma on both were chocolate and coffee.

The tastes were quite different, the newer was more bitter and less pumpkin yet very drinkable. The year old bottle was very good, the spruce seemed to mellow allowing more of a earthy pumpkin flavor to show through. The alcohol was well masked in both beers.

My advice, put a couple away, age really improves this one.

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Photo of u2carew
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber.
A) Pours with a nice, creamy, tan head. Slowly settles. Opaque but not entirely black. Great stickly lacing.
S) Bready. Hints of alcohol. Subtle piney and floral notes more from hops than the "spruce". Roasted coffee. Light chocolate notes.
T) Smokey. Chocolate. Quite bitter. Alcohol is masked well. The pumpkin is missing. The spruce is also lacking.
M) Full bodied. Dry. Chewy.
D) A nice stout. Well crafted. I'd have another. A bitter disappointed with the ill-represented label "pumpkin" and "spruce".

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Photo of stoutluvr420
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- dark, nice head, but not much of it
S- toasty malt, slight pine, earthy
T- chocolate-caramel, slightly resinous, touch of chocolate, slight squashy eathiness in the long finish
M- medium to heavy, not too creamy
D- decent, finished bomber with no problem

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Photo of Slatetank
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at Al's of Hampden -served chilled in a pint

A - A deep brown that almost looks black but under the light is just a shade lighter.The tan head settles to a ring and clarity is translucent

S - The smell has a nice spruce element with light roasted grain and mild hop notes w/ a gentle coffee aroma and slight caramel malt odor

M - The feel is roasty, dry and bitter w/ a clean finish

T - The flavor does not give much pumpkin, but the spruce is picked up with a slight resinous tinge and dry bitter flavor. The stout has a nice roasted base and the finish keeps the dry woody lingering

D - A drinkable stout, pumpkin is slightly gimmicky without much presence in the flavor. I would drink it again as it is a pretty nice beer for the style if you like spruce in your beer

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Photo of mdfb79
3.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 8/27/10 notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a dark black color with a few inches of brown head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, alcohol, and vanilla. No pumpkin at all.

t - Taste is very similiar to the nose. Mostly chocolate and roasted malts, with hints of alcohol, vanilla, and dark fruits. Again, no pumpkin here.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, I thought it was pretty smooth and creamy, and very easy to drink.

d - A pretty nice stout from Rock Art that was very easy to drink, but it really doesn't have any pumpkin in the smell or taste at all. Would try again but if you're looking for a pumpkin beer, go with something else.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

thanks to UA8 for this bottle

A - this flavored stout pours a dark muddy brown, a gentle pour wells up over a finger of tan head

S - coffee and chocolate aromas are the biggest elements, very unflavored stout like, then at the background there is a slight pumpkin spice aroma, i cannot detect any spruce at all

T - once again coffee and cocoa powder are the biggest characteristics in the flavor, in addition on the palate the spruce flavors come alive, however the pumpkin isnt noticeable

M&D - a neat flavor combination, didnt work as well as i wouldve like, the spruce and pumpkin were never together for me, one was in the nose and one on the tongue, the ingredients were quality and the beer was flavorful, just didnt live up to my expectations

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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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