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Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale | Carolina Beer Company

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very good
144 Reviews
Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced AleCottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale

Brewed by:
Carolina Beer Company
North Carolina, United States

Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by aracauna on 09-18-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 144 | Ratings: 173
Photo of jabocu
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again MetalMonk!! This pours a rusty orange haze with almost no cap. Kinda makes me think of canned pumpkin as it slithers out of the can. Aroma is a wallop of cinnomon, nutmeg, and clove. The pumpkin is so discernable with the old vegetable pumpkin meat... like I just stuck my head in a real pumpkin. There is a backbone of caramel malt in the nose as well. By far the best pumpkin beer I have had hit my nose. The flavor is a little dissapointing on the spiciness side however. But the juicy fresh pumpkin flavor makes up for it. Earthy pumpkin and toasted caramel carry througout with a light cinnamon and nutmeg to make you think of a pie. Hops don't have much meaning in the brew, but just enough to give a hint of citrus on the back-end. Medium body, medium carbonation, and very refreshing. Very nice!!!!

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another of the beers acquired recently from my VA/NC beer pimp Metalmonk. A 12 oz. bottle poured to a pint glass. Very attractive label with a stylish king toting a large beer stein and a sizable pumpkin.

A: Rusty orange-brown with a 1-finger ivory head which fades to nothing. Quite a bit of unexpected sediment in the bottle made for a muddy pour. Appears still, but when held to the light a few vigorous streams of carbonation bubbles wiggled to the surface.

S: Delicious spicy cinnamon and nutmeg burst from the glass, creating a nice tingle in the nose. Emulates fresh pumpkin pie very well. Not much is discernable beyond the spice.

T: Doesn't live up to the smell. Has some spiciness, but then a heavier pumpkin-flesh earthiness takes over. A tangy, sourness ensues. Malts are light and finish is pretty bitter. I love the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in the aroma; they just don't present themselves as well in the taste.

M: Prickly and substantially carbonated. A bit gritty, perhaps from that sediment suspended in the glass. Medium mouthfeel but somewhat watery. Lingering bitter-sweet finish.

D: A nice pumpkin ale, with great smell and good flavor. Not the best I've had but certainly good enough to have another. Likable & drinkable; my wife voted this beer as 'pretty good'. Low ABV would make this a worthy fall 'session' beer. Thanks, Jeff!

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Probably as good as any Pumpkin Ale that I have ever tried. Seems like they start with a lightly colored English Pale Ale base, and added pumpkin character at a pretty good clip. Appropiately spiced to make this thing smell exactly (and taste very similarly) to actual pumpkin pie...with whipped cream. Decorated with all-spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Very delicious. Feels full and creamy, but not heavy. Lightly buttery and spicy feeling. A mild spicy bite in the throat, but to not the extent of all other pumpkin ales that I have tried.

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Photo of clemtig76
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown 12 oz bottle produced on 08/22/06 purchased at Green's in Columbia, SC. Pours a beautiful burnt orange/copper color with a thin tan head that quickly disipates. The aromas of clove, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinammon remind me of a freshly baked pumpkin pie. Just a little malt in the background. Tastes very much like it smells, malty with those wonderful pumpkin pie spices. Finish is slighlty sweet and warming. Very pleasant and refreshing. Would make a great tailgating brew.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Been holding this one in the fridge for a week and a half, which is an eon by my standards. Pour looked ggood initially but the head crapped out almost instantly withut a trace. Color is a dark cider with hints of orange. Nose has as much pure pumpkinn smell as any of the style I've ever tasted. Also as nice cinammon/nutmeg backing with malt undertones..mmm..tasty.

Taste is full and well flavored as the nnose with a spicy/clove finish, joined by a smoky flavor. Diifferent, and nice. Unfortunately the mouthfeel doesn't measure up the same way..too thin, without enough body to let the taste really shine. Also, the carbonation burns a bit whiile you're collecting flavor.

Definitely has its faults but this is still an original, well crafted pumpkin, certainly the best I've had besides long time favorite Post Road, and well worth a shot if you see a sixer or single.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This beer holds special nostalgic value for me, as it defined my fall of 2003, particularly the music I was heavily getting into at the time. I go back in time by just smelling it, revisiting the look, feel and sound of used vinyl records, the sounds emanating from the hi-fi, and that particular melancholy, bittersweet feeling exclusive to the onset of autumn. This tells you nothing about the beer, but I can't review the beer without mentioning it. I drank my share that autumn, and will continue to buy a case every season. Not just for nostalgic reasons, it remains the best pumpkin ale I've tried so far...but I'm far from having tried them all. I'm still looking for something to beat it.

This beer doesn't hold up well in the appearance department because the head pours out thin and doesn't hang around long at all. The color is a cloudy rust-brown, which is nice. No significant lace buildup.

Aroma brings a nice pumpkin-y smell, seems a natural enough aroma, and there's a layer of sharper spices, like a cinnamon/nutmeg mixture, coming into the nose.

The flavors are much like the aroma, with a milky, dessert-y satisfaction in the finish. Spicy and malty flavors abound (cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, butter), reminiscent of the traditional Thanksgiving pie, and even baked apple shows itself. Hops mingle in there offering adequate bittering. Just about the only improvement needed is a creamier mouthfeel. It's a bit over-carbonated, tingly and fizzy where the flavors clearly call for something smoother and creamier. [I like to let this beer warm a bit, which seems to diminish the bubbly attack quite a bit.]

I've tried 4 or 5 other pumpkin ales. Some were crap and some enjoyable, but so far this is the best I've had.

[Note to self two years later: Southern Tier, Elysian and Smuttynose have pumpkin ales that beat this one, hands down. But I still want no other pumpkin ale with my Manfred Mann's Earth Band vinyl than this one!]

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Photo of mcallister
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got to admit one of the better looking pumpkin ales I've encountered. Rich, deep, nearly opaque amber, orange. A white head fades quickly and leaves a ring around the collar.

Nice balanced aromas. Pumpkin first and foremost as it should be. With the usual spices making the rounds although everything is slightly laid back. Nice mixture of malt as well.

Pretty good pumpkin but lacking depth. Dead on for pumpkin pie great flavors of pumpkin with the usual nice spices not overdone by any means. If not for the thin mouthfeel this would be one for the ages. Easy drinking.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been working my way slowly through this six-pack because it is such a rich and hearty beer.

Pours a rich auburn with a slight orange twist. Slight ead that evaporates to essentially a film. Nose is full of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Just like my Ma's kitchen whenever she makes a pumpkin pie.

Flavor is rich and bold and spices. Honestly, I am not sure if there is pumpkin or all the pumpkin pie spices are just tricking my mind to think that there is pumpkin in there. But anyway, the flavor is so rich and full that it coats the inside of my cheeks. Very sweet too. Full body that holds up well even as the beer warms. Such a nice example of the style

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Photo of coasterfreak75
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was a nice dark amber bordering on red with a good two finger head that quickly dissapated and left only a trace around the top of the beer.

The smell was heavy in pumpkin and spice. A strange mix of cinnamon, allspice, and a sweet smell like molassas. The pumpkin smell off-set the others just enough.

The drink started with a sweet kick in the teeth. The molassas and spices really never let up from start to finish. Somewhere in the middle of the drink was a hint of pumpkin flavor. The finish was clean and crisp.

All and all a good beer, well worth a try. This style is not my favorite but it's getting to be that time of year when this style is a nice break.

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Photo of wedge
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A fizzing head of yellowed foam rests over a clouded, burnt chestnut colored beverage - active carbonation. The head settles down to a broken, creamy ring. Smells like tasty pumpkin pie...spiced, toasted pumpkin, nutmeg...delightful! The flavor is well blended sweet pumpkiny goodness with yet more nutmeg. Well-rounded. Solid medium body could use a little more carbonation.

Want something to fit the fall season? Try one of these. I'll have to crack another few of these once the weather gets cool and the leaves change. Yum.

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

Ever notice how your taste buds change over time? I couldn't drink this beer in the past but now it is nice.

The color is a nice deep orange. There was a small head and no lacing. The smell is like grandmaw's pumkin pie. The taste is much the same. This beer highlights the pumkin very well. The mouthfeel is very smooth with a nice aftertaste of spice. I could drink this beer again. In fact, I may go out later to secure another sixer. A good effort by Cottonwood.

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Photo of EPseja
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to doppelmeup for scoring me a sixer of this for Autumnal enjoyment!

Served from a 12oz. twist-off bottle in a spiffy Cottonwood pint glass at a bit above fridge temperature.

A - Pours a natural-looking hazy honeyed-amber color with rusty highlights and a slight viscosity. Light tan colored head rises to about an inch before falling off to a thin film atop the beer. Decent legs, but no lacing to speak of.

S - Nose is very squashy and organic, spiced with obvious cinnamon and clove, but in modest amounts. Also noted was a slight wet cardboard smell that surprisingly was *not* a detractor, since in my opinion, it also smelled like the inside of a carved pumpkin. There is also a crispness to the nose of this beer from the hops which are nicely tucked in the back.

T - A nice, medium bodied maltiness starts things off on the tip of the tongue with pumpkin pie spices hanging out in the wings. As the beer makes its way to the middle of the tongue, an interesting squash (pumpkin) tartness comes into play, adding a very "authentic" organic edge. Also noted at this point is a nice, pointed mincemeat pie flavor that adds a tasty edge. The back of the tongue brings a hit of hop bitterness, and puts the sweet malt notes in balance. The aftertaste is pumpkin pie-like in spice content, but not overly sweet.

M - Enters the mouth with a tongue-tingling carbonation, rising very airily to a puff in the mouth. Swallow is thick and slightly gassy in the belly. The mouthfeel gets better as the beer warms, but not enough to make a very big difference. Lots of burps from this one.

D - This is a very fine Pumpkin Ale that uses real pumpkin instead of simply tossing spices into the beer like others might. This creates a very different taste experience - one that is natural and fresh, loaded with craft-brewed character. If only the carbonation were better kept in check, this one would have a better head retention, creamier mouthfeel, and be much more drinkable.

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Photo of CWiggins
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A brief but thick head appeared when I poured this beer into my Duvel glass. The dark copper color is attractive, and bubbles continued to rise from the abyss of the glass for several minutes. Although the head left rather quickly, a modest bead of light tan foam hung around for quite some time around the perimeter. It left a nice wash of bubbles on the side of the glass as I turned it up to take a whiff.

The smell is rather impressive. It's not the least timid, filling my nostrils with pumpkin bread, spices, and hints of clove and nutmeg. Nice!

I had great expectations for the taste, as the last pumpkin beer I tasted was darn great. This one isn't as full flavored, so I was a bit disappointed–at first. After several sips, however, I began to appreciate what it had to offer. One tastes a bright citrus on the front, followed by pumpkin and spice. The finish lingers forever; even after two or three minutes have passed I can still feel and taste a slight bitterness along with bread and spice. Tasty!

It is definitely a beer of medium body, and the carbonation, while heavy up front, quickly fades as the intense flavors consume the mouth. The finish is nice and dry.

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Photo of doppelmeup
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is like pumpkin pie in a bottle! This should be the standard from which all other pumpkin ales are measured, IMHO!

Poured a deep, pumpkin color into a pint glass. Not a great head, and minimal lacing. Very nice coloring.

Aromas of pumpkin pie spice and fresh pumpkin. Allspice predominates with side notes of ginger and cloves. Not much in the way of hops or malts, but I wasn't really expecting any of those aromas.

Taste was exactly what I would think a pumpkin ale should taste like. Mild spiciness with pumpkin flavor, but not overly sweet or cloying. Just an overall nice flavor. Without a doubt the best pumpkin ale I have had.

Light, slightly fizzy mouthfeel keeps this beer refreshing, yet it still has a rich, full body. A beer of this style could risk being slightly overpowering, but Cottonwood balances the flavors and mouthfeel perfectly, IMO.

Very drinkable pumpkin ale. An excellent brew for the Fall when evenings start cooling down. I drank this with a bowl of beef stew and it was an excellent choice of beverage. Highly recommended.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

a - deep copper/burnt orange, medium tan head with little retention, little lacing, hazy

s - great pumpkin pie/bread smell, instantly makes me think of thanksgiving, cinammon and clove, normal pumpkin pie spices

t - malty up front with lots of pumpkin flavor, clove, cinammon, lots of ginger as well

m - medium-bodied, moderate carbonation

d - very drinkable, especially with the low abv, could definitely drink several of these

This is my first pumpkin ale, and it was a good one in my opinion. This is exactly what I was hoping the style would be. Not something I'd drink everyday, but a good change of pace beer for a fall day.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from hoppedup as part of the East Coast 6-Pack & Shirt BIF. Thanks for the opportunity. *Disclaimer: Not the world's biggest pumpkin or spiced beer fan, but I'll give everything a try once, at least when it comes to beer.*

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 2" pumpkiny tan head above the slightly cloudy orangey copper brew. Head lasts very nicely, with plentiful delicate lacing. Aroma is strongly of pumpkin and spices. Even if I'm not a big fan, hard to fault a brew for delivering what they advertise on the label... Taste is spiced pumpkin bread, with cloves and such coming on even stronger at the close. Mouthfeel and drinkability are what I would expect from the style, and could certainly be worse. As some would say, "Not bad, for a spice pumpkin beer."

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Photo of BeerBeing
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz brown glass longneck generic bottle, multicolored label

Appearance: clear mahogany-orange color, smalloff-white head, no lacing

Smell: spices, pumpkin, kinda cherry (?), malt

Taste: medium body, crisp mouth feel, good balanced spiciness, some hops, minor pumpkin. toasted maltiness

Notes: very good, pleasant and refreshing brew

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Little worried about being disappointed by this one: it was my all-time fav during college, and I haven't had it in a couple of years.

Pours out a muted orange-brown with a big off-white head that quickly recedes into the brew. Nice bubbling carbonation.

Smell is pumpkin-laden, moreso than other pumpkin ales. It's tempered nicely by scents of nutmeg and cinnamon, with just a little hint of allspice, and a bready malt aroma. There's also a slight bitter hop edge.

Flavor is similar to the smell, lots of pumpkin-pie, but not cloyingly sweet. The cinnamon and allspice are at the front, but the the cinnamon's not too spicy or hot. The malt-doughiness is strong enough to stand up to the spices, and a little bit of hoppy bitterness rounds things out nicely.

Overall: Still the best pumpkin ale I've ever had by a wide margin. It's not cloying, doesn't taste like canned pumpkin, and doesn't have any acidic off notes. Just a wonderful drinking brew, and one of my favorites, regardless of style.

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Photo of brentk56
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a caramel brown slightly cloudy body with a robust head and some lacing

Smell: Pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg dominate the nose

Taste: Starts out with a nice pumpkin flavor the provides a backbone for a fairly spicy kick; a slight hop bitterness joins on the finish but overall it is fairly sweet

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but a bit fizzy

Drinkability: Overall, a very nice effort and one of my favorite pumpkin ales

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Photo of kingjames1
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off, you should know that I am not a fan (yet) of this style. In fact, my first sample of the style I could hardly finish.

This pours a rich, dark amber, which is very appealing, though the head and lacing disappoint a little. The smell is very good, for a pumpkin spiced ale. In fact it smells just like pumpkin pie, no kidding (though only slighty weaker in aroma). Taste is pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, slight brown sugar (malt sweetness?), and just a touch of alcohol. The mouthfeel is decent, but slightly watery. I don't know if that is inherent to the style?

Again, for the style (and my tastes) this is very drinkable. Cottonwood just might win me over to the style...but then again, there are many other seasonal beers out there I would drink instead (marzens, winter warmers and other christmas seasonals).

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Photo of Chadbrew
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours out sort of hazy and brown with a big cap of tan head. I swear it looks like a piece of pumkin pie in a glass. Smells like it too. I detect plenty of spices and some sweetness. The taste is nice and bitter sweet with a solid spice presence but nothing overwhelming. Lots of body definately matches the spice.
This is sooo easy to drink. Not too much of anything but plenty of all. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it is very well balanced.

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Photo of tommy78
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got it straight from the tap. Immediately, I smelled a pumpkin aroma. Colour is a brownish/orange tint. As soon as I tasted it, a pumpkin flavor mixed with spicy hops hit my tongue. It reminded me of having pumpkin pie, except in alcoholic, liquid form. A good feel to the beverage, though it was hard for me to drink it consistantly. I had to take a couple of sips of h2o in between to cleanse the pallet. Good fall beer to have.

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Photo of mmmbeer
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz with no freshness date. I poured it like a hefe to get all the unfiltered goodies out. The body is an opaque raspberry/brown with some sediment and a 1 finger yellowish/tan head that doesn't leave lacing but a thin blanket of foam remains throughout. It looks like a dank IPA. Soft pumpkin pie aroma - real pumpkin pie with a light spicing of nutmeg and cloves. Tastes like pumpkin pie also. Nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon... some sweetness and the malts/hops of the beer make faint appearances in the second half. The body is medium and fairly smooth but the carbonation is a bit sharp at times. Overall it's very tasty and I wish I had a slice of pie to pair it with.

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Photo of cracgor
4.11/5  rDev +7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brown color with a nice little tan head that quickly receeds to a thin ring around the glass with no lace. Smells so much like pumpkin pie. Spicy pumpkin pie. Makes me think I need whipped cream. So delicious tasting. They nailed pumpkin pie. It even has a little of the smooth texture I identify with the pie. Crap I need pie. This is the first pumpkin beer I ever tried, and I have always enjoyed it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Murky 'autumn leaves' orange-bronze that virtually explodes with color when sunlight is permitted entry. The cap is toasted pie crust beige in color. Unfortunately, it's too soft and too unsticky. The upper surface is smooth and featureless and the glass is nearly devoid of lace. A better head-lace combination would have put the appearance into the Pumpkin Ale Hall of Fame for sure.

The nose smells more like freshly-baked pumpkin pie than the vast majority of pumpkin ales that I've had so far (all eight of them). There's a near perfect blend of the baked gourd itself, cinnamon and nutmeg, and beer. I'd have to smell this one in concert with Smuttynose Pumpkin to come up with an absolute favorite, but it's definitely a good 'un.

Still going strong on the palate. It seems to me that it must be hard to get the mix of flavors just right in a pumpkin ale. How else to explain the shortage of great ones? The brewers at Carolina Beer & Beverage have it mostly figured out because this is wonderful beer.

The malt backbone is just sturdy enough and provides a toasted, caramel-like flavor that reminds me, in some ways, of a marzen. I could use a little more malty sweetness, but everyone probably won't feel the same. The brewery's website describes the pumpkin flavor as 'faint', probably to avoid scaring off those who 'fear the pumpkin'. It isn't faint though. It's right up front and the beer is better off because of it.

A modest bitterness appears on the finish; yet more evidence that this isn't some overly sweet pumpkin alcopop, but a real, honest to goodness, finely crafted ale. Spices linger, with nutmeg slightly more prominent than cinnamon. The mouthfeel is a fraction lighter than medium (more malt please) and the carbonation is long-lived.

Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale deserves the medals that are so proudly displayed on the label. While it doesn't quite rise to the heights of my favorite version (Smutty), it's a commendable brew from a quality brewery. If I lived in the distribution area, CPSA would have an honored place in my fridge come autumn. Thanks to WOLFGANG for sending this terrific seasonal my way.

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Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale from Carolina Beer Company
3.84 out of 5 based on 173 ratings.
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