Headless Heron
Central Waters Brewing Co.

Headless HeronHeadless Heron
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Pumpkin Beer
4.16 | pDev: 8.41%
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Headless HeronHeadless Heron
Notes: Generously spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, this barrel-aged pumpkin spice ale overflows with dark fruit, dried fruit, and hints of bourbon. Perfect for settling in to watch a few leaves fall to the ground.
Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 398 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Luscious_Malfoy
Luscious_Malfoy from Illinois

4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

vintage 2016 bottle aged to damn near perfection. get a little bit of wet cardboard oxidation on the nose but other than that it’s pure pumpkin fall spices with a hint of whiskey. taste is similar but the whiskey has been smoothed out from when i has this bottle fresh. mouthfeel is full, perfectly carbonated. it’s smooth and very easy drinking for the style. overall, this was an aging experiment i went into thinking i had sat too long on. i stand corrected. this beer was incredible. a nice melding of fall pumpkin spices and bourbon. wish i’d saved another.

Nov 01, 2019
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.84/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2016 vintage; drank 10/11/16 @ the Yarchives.

Opaque brown appearance.

A rough pour yielded a huge tan head; strong, frothy lace.

Pumpkin pie, cream, oak & faint bourbon notes in the nose.

Creamy, medium mouthfeel.

Pumpkin pie, cream & mild bourbon flavors up front; oak notes on the finish.

An interesting imperial pumpkin beer; perhaps the oak looms too large but at the very least it was drinkable & enjoyable.

Apr 01, 2019
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PatrickCT from Connecticut

4.06/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, jammy body with a ruby orange hue. Minimal head settles, as quickly as it rises, into a bubbly, thin, wispy cap. The slightly sticky lace slides down the glass not unlike the legs of bourbon.
The Aroma is woody and spicy, with a waft of prunes and dark currents, mingling together to give the impression of toasted prune skins. The bourbon and barrel are obvious throughout.
The taste mirrors the aroma, more hot with alcohol and with the piquant flavor of dried fruit. Finishes with a slightly woodiness and sour end of the fruit.
The body is medium which makes this dangerous. It's heavy and complex aroma and flavor go down easy. On the palate it is smooth until the bourbon influence gives it some bite. It is warm, comforting and should be treated as a sipper.

Overall this is a 4.25 but I took points off because it was given to me by Joe.

Nov 23, 2017
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LongTaco15 from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours dark solid brown with a finger of head that lingered for a bit.

Smell: Bourbon, Barrell, a bit of pumpkin and spices

Taste: Chocolate up front, followed by pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bourbon. Very complex and tastes great.

Feel: Medium mouth feel.

Overall an awesome barrel aged pumpkin ale. Really enjoying this one. I can't find a date on the bottom but I think it is from 2016.

Nov 01, 2017
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours dark brown with a one finger tan head. Good amount soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and bourbon.

T - The taste is pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla and bourbon.

M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft dry finish.

O - A very solid barrel aged pumpkin beer. The bourbon is light and adds a nice depth to the flavor.

Oct 28, 2017
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JohnnyHopps from Indiana

4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - The beer porn a dark brown brown murky color.

Smell - The nose was boozy but far from hot or astringent. It seemed well balanced.

Taste - At the front was t at the front was bourbon which was accompanied by sweet pumpkin spice. Unlike some pumpkin ales, this was not a cinnamon mom. The spices did not overwhelm the pumpkin or bourbon.

Mouthfeel - Though perhaps it was a hair thin, but still had a fairly thick feel.

Overall - I would suggest that this belongs in the upper echelon of pumpkin beers.

Oct 13, 2017
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

People say that all pumpkin ales are virtually the same, and in many cases I tend to agree, but this one stands out. The feel is so rich and luscious, and it feels designed to let the subtle flavors with the pumpkin shine. Bourbon, fall spices, wood, dark fruits like figs and prunes, cinnamon and biscuit. Good sipper for a brisk fall day

Jul 07, 2017
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Nugganooch from California

4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 22oz bottle to snifter – 11/29/15
This was sent from mdfb79 – Thanks Dan!

Really enjoyed this delicious seasonal treat! A wintery warmer, barley wine style type strong ale with the perfect amount of pumpkin, pie spice, and barrel influence. Dark brown on the pour with some garnet tones and a moderate cap of khaki tan suds that works its way back down to a swirl in the glass. Light dot works and a few streaks of lace noted. The nose evokes pie filling with cinnamon and nutmeg, maple glazed squash, marshmallow, vanilla, brown sugar, toasty oak, and a light browned malt roast. Flavor is sweet with caramelized goodness but maintains balance throughout. Has some great kettled malt flavor with enough bourbon to produce some delicious vanilla-marshmallow like notes that melds delectably with the candied pumpkin and baked goods here. I find the cinnamon and nutmeg spices are complimentary as well and kept quite manageable. Semi viscous but never too syrupy. Some modest earthy roast to it with a mild peppery hop bitterness that helps dry out in the finish. A very tasty treat and well balanced in all the spice barrel and fruit flavors. Recommended – would love to have this one again.

Mar 03, 2017
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SD-Alefan from South Dakota

4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a tan head that quickly becomes a mere, wispy cover.
The aroma is cinnamon, cloves, cola, vanilla and roast notes.
The taste is toasty and spicy with vanilla and dark fruit and some boozy warmth.
It's medium and smooth.

Feb 21, 2017
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GoBearsWalter34 from Illinois

4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L- Pours a dark brown with a tan, creamy head.
S- A huge bourbon smell. Maple syurp and spice.
T- pumpkin, vanilla, carmel, bourbon burn, cinnamon.
M- Quite smooth with a slight bourbon and hop burn.
O- Wonderful pumpkin ale with lots of bourbon.

Dec 17, 2016
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into a goblet

A- pours a dark brown color with a thin foamy off-white headshot reduces to a ring around the edge

S- aroma gives cinnamon, nutmeg & clove up front with a Carmel malty sweetness, along with brown sugar. Undertones of bourbon give spicy earthy wood & vanilla

T- sweet and malty up front with notes of bread crust, fruit cake & caramel. The spices follow, with flavors of cinnamon & nutmeg. Bourbon barrel kicks in mid-palate, providing oak & vanilla. The finish is distinctly brown sugar, with a perfect compliment of cinnamon and barrel

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and finish, abv hidden well

O- outstanding mix of sweet malty base beer, slicing and barrel treatment. One of the better pumpkin beers I've had for sure

Dec 15, 2016
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57md from Pennsylvania

4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a brownish color with dark copper edges and a half finger of head. The nose has an alluring combination of pumpkin, seasonal spices, bourbon and vanilla. The flavor has many of the same notes as the nose plus the introduction of dark fruits. The pumpkin "meat" seems to be featured quite prominently.

This offering does not ever become overly sweet or cloying. In fact, the finish leans slightly to the semi-dry side.

At 8.5% this offering is on the edge of cellarable. I am going to search out a few more bottles to save for Halloween 2017 as I think that it will only improve with age.

Dec 13, 2016
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GStone899 from Minnesota

4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Amazing pumpkin beer. Lots of clove, nutmeg and spices. Pours the same color as coca cola with the same head too. Smell is very pungent and alluring. I haven't had many pumpkin beers in my life but this one hits the spot. Central waters makes some fine beta and this is no exception.

Dec 11, 2016
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SerialTicker from Michigan

4.49/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dude, this stuff's a banger! A 22oz bottle for something like $7? Not only is the price right, the beer is delicious -- easily the best pumpkin beer I've had when factoring in quality and price. The spice level is perfect, and the bourbon is flawlessly integrating without taking over the spices or pumpkin flavor. I see some people saying there's too much spice/that it overwhelms, but I think it's great -- the ratio is just on. I'm digging the nutmeg and cinnamon. This is basically the perfect pumpkin beer.

Nov 25, 2016
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Lembeh from New York

4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours like a cola, can see some dark crimson edges. The nose is caramel, toasted malt, rich pumpkin puree, some nutmeg and cloves. The taste is rich pumpkin spices, some bittering but not a hop bittering more of a burnt charred kind of note. The latter is from the barrel and there is also some cloves and almost a slight warming sensation towards the end. Really impressed with he complexity of this ale. Very well done, will look for this next year for sure.

Nov 19, 2016
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novamat from Illinois

4.31/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pour almost opaque, I held it up to a light to reveal a deep, dark ruby red color with a hint of brown. Head is a light tan color that sits on top and slowly fades. Smell is all spice, and very well balanced. Smells sweet too with notes of dark fruits and (maybe) vanilla, giving the impression that the beer may be cloying. Taste mostly follows nose, except that the beer is not as sweet at the aroma would have you think. Lots of spice well balanced with the malts and hops of the beer, with subtle hints of the bourbon barrel. Mouthfeel is thin compared to what I expect for a beer this dark, but it is not inappropriate for what the beer actually is - a pumpkin ale. Carbonation is well balanced and the beer feels good on the palette. Overall a worthy effort from Central Waters and one of the best pumpkin ales I've had.

Nov 02, 2016
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Slack from Virginia

3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Amber brown to brown in color and clear on the edges. Minimal head on the edges. Decent lacing in a swirl.

Nose is cola, sweetness, black licorice, nutmeg, cinnamon, minor ginger, and pumpkin.

Taste is sweet vegetative pumpkin mixed spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, some oak, and some booze on the back end.

Mouthful is medium and a bit syrupy. Carbonation is medium. Finish semi dry.

Having had many pumpkin ales, this falls into the spicier variety. The spice component is very pronounced. The pumpkin is there but more in the background and at times vegetative. The barrel adds a bit here and there bit nothing remarkable. Would try this if you hadn't but wouldn't seek it out.

Oct 23, 2016
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Lucular from Maryland

4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Great pumpkin beer. The bourbon is present but not overwhelming, spices are on point, pumpkin flavor is apparent and everything is nicely in balance. 8.5% abv totally hidden. Easily a top-10 pumpkin beer.

Oct 18, 2016
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Gajo74 from New York

4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Twas a slightly chilly fall night. I was at Whole Foods and decided a bomber of pumpkin ale would fit the occasion.
Not much of a head on the first pour, however, an aggressive pour on the second round yielded a big foam head that quickly disapated into a thin collar with wispy lacing. The color is a solid dark brown with hints of mahogany and ruby red.
A complex nose yields all sorts of fall harvest goodies! Earthy and fresh pumpkin, yam, sweet potato, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Toasted bread with a bourbon backdrop.Good stuff!
Taste is equally as complex. Sweet, full bodied, big alcohol warming almost to the point of being boozy, vinous, definitely a sipper. The pumpkin and spices, elements of a pumpkin ale, are definitely there, but the fullness and alcohol sweetness makes it feel like a Russian Imperial Stout at times. Very dynamic. The carbonation mellows out nicely as it warms, opening up other flavors; dark fruit, alcohol soaked prunes, slightly charred and cross between roasted and toasted malt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Some dryness in finish.
A perfect beer for this fall night. Big in every way.

Oct 13, 2016
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

It is pretty cool that we get Central Waters beers here in PA & when this arrived at The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop, I picked one up as part of the #PumpkinChallenge2016.

From the bottle: "Generously spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, this barrel-aged pumpkin spice ale overflows with dark fruit, dried fruit, and hints of bourbon. Perfect for settling in to watch a few leaves fall to the ground."; "Ale, Sun. Earth and Sky"; "Brewed in Amherst, WI".

Having Pop!ped the cap, I began a relatively gentle pour, but I was still getting a good bit of foaming, including a pseudo-cascade! I backed off & watched as it formed two-plus fingers of deep-brown head with really remarkable retention. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity & garnet highlights. Nose smelled strongly of the spices, but I was not getting anything that would put me in mind of bourbon. Mouthfeel was full and creamy, like a dollop had been ladled onto my tongue. The taste was really different for the style since the bourbon gave it a coconut-like sweetness that helped to cut some of the intensity of the spices. Make no mistake, though. It was very spicy with a prevalent cinnamon-clove flavor at the forefront, underlain by the nutmeg & ginger, but blanketed by the bourbon. A foodie analogy might be Pigs In a Blanket, drizzled with honey or syrup. It was a mélange of flavors & tastes, but one that was extremely pleasant. The finish was dry, thanks to the spices, with a mild fusel alcohol heat to remind me of its barrel-aged origins. I would not recommend an entire bomber by yourself, but I could not find anyone who wanted to join me on a timely basis. 8=(

Oct 09, 2016
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark cinnamon brown color, thick creamy cinnamon colored lacing, sticky on the sides of the glass.

S - Cinnamon, pumpkins, vanilla, oak, and small hints of bourbon.

T - Follows the nose: vanilla, bourbon, oak, pumpkin, and cinnamon from start to finish. Balanced across the board from start to finish. Some alcohol

M - Full bodied, velvety texture.

O - This is a fantastic barrel pumpkin beer without being obnoxious. The blend is superb.

Sep 22, 2016
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a nice amber color with a thin white head on top. The smell of the beer has a good amount of spice on the nose, there is also an oak sweetness too. The taste of the beer is sweet and spicy. The feel of the beer is medium to full bodied. Overall it's a pretty good brew.

Sep 22, 2016
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vic21234 from Illinois

4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a snifter at room temperature.

A- Pours a dark amber or reddish color with a fair amount of khaki head which hangs around awhile.

S- Heavy notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and otherwise spices that make you think of the fall. The barrel character is pronounced as well.

T- The smell carries into the taste, with heavy notes of nutmeg and cinnamon initially on the taste. The bourbon barrel comes through at the back end of each sip giving a nice spin on this pumpkin ale.

M- Medium bodied, nice sipping beer for the fall.

The barrel character adds a nice complexity to a style that I'd otherwise not want to run too. I enjoyed this one.

Sep 17, 2016
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gatornation from Minnesota

3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a Chocolate Mahogany color with a thin tan head. Smell had spices of nutmeg.clove,cinnamon, with notes of punpkin vanilla wood and bourbon Taste follows nose but was weak on all notes bourbon and pumpkin are present but was looking for more. Mouth feel was thin and watery, a good brew that left me wanting more from CW.

Aug 28, 2016
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bbtkd from South Dakota

3.81/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Central Waters Headless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale, 8.5% ABV. Pours dark brown, medium viscosity, with 4 fingers of tan head, leaves decent lacing. Nose is booziness, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Taste follows, with cloves and slight bitter close. Tastes boozy but not very bourbony somehow. Wanted to love it as I do other BA Central Waters offerings but still not quite the perfect pumpkin beer I seek. Still, much better than when I tried it last year, before I gained an appreciation for BA beers.

May 14, 2016
Headless Heron from Central Waters Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 398 ratings