Headless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Spice Ale | Central Waters Brewing Co.

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Headless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Spice AleHeadless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Spice Ale

Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BeerVikingSailor on 09-25-2014

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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 377
Photo of Nugganooch
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

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Photo of SD-Alefan
4.1/5  rDev -1%
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.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
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

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Photo of 57md
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

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Photo of GStone899
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of Lembeh
4.47/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of novamat
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of Cburnette23
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow. Just bought this, and of course whoever said that 'first impressions were everything' would have been a big fan of not just this beer, but also the other gems of barrel-aged goodness offered by the Wisconsin based Central Waters Brewing Company. Also, what's so great about Central Waters beer - I always feel like I'm getting a good value for my dollar. Something unique, just like Lagunitas in my opinion. Anyway, on to the beer. Absolutely a delightful drink, especially for the fall. It pours a thick, frothy (and flavorful!) head in a smoky and dark, lovely brew. The first sip is unmistakable - you know you are in for a rich and profound delight. I do believe if you have a tulip-shaped glass at your leisure, that it comes in extra handy for this one. You can pick up the clearly-stated notes of pumpkin even better, and the smell is of spice, almost a ginger feel to it. The ginger spice and pumpkin combine with the rich, barrel aged back-drop to hit you with a REAL and legit taste of goodyness that put a smile on my face. Also, with a rich, deep drink like this, you gotta realize that, sure you may be only getting 22 oz of this, which for any other brew is about a taste-worth, but goes much farther with this drink. Hence the value mentioned previously. Kudos to Central Waters, they really are setting a standard of value and quality that I would be hard-pressed to consider who can match. A success without a doubt, and highly recommended - get it while you can!

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Photo of Slack
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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Photo of Lucular
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
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=(

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

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Photo of vic21234
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of gatornation
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.81/5  rDev -8%
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.

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Photo of Franziskaner
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black in color with very little light penetration. There's a fingernail of brown covering the majority of the top. The aroma is a blend of sweet bourbon, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Upon tasting it I can detect ginger, clove, sweet bourbon, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. The feel is slightly warm from the bourbon but the alcohol is otherwise well hidden under the spices.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black pour, 1/4" tan head. Aroma was less bourbon than expected, but thankfully that did not allow the pumpkin and spice to run all over the place.

Taste was nice, more bourbon barrel here, chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg. Pumpkin isn't over done at all, just right. Easy drinking mouthfeel, everything helps keep the alcohol taste from being prominent, well hidden. Soft carbonation.

Good beer at a great price. My favorite pumpkin beer out there.

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Photo of coldbrew24
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pour is dark. Rich aroma in snifter with spicy hints of cinnamon. Thick bourbon taste with nutmeg and cinnamon, but low pumpkin flavors. Excellent body. Easily the best pumpkin ale I've tried. Very much appreciate Central Waters work.

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Photo of Myotus
3.34/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured at 47°F from a 22oz bottle (no bottle date) into a pint glass. Consumed on 15Jan16.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that shrivels into a line within 35 seconds. Dark mahogany in color with an orange tint. Rising bubbles are medium in size and very subtle in quantity. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: Mild aromas of bourbon, nutmeg, figs, raisins, molasses, ginger, and cinnamon are backed by hints of pumpkin and cloves. The ginger gives this an unnecessary and unpleasant aroma.
TASTE: Strong aromas of bourbon enter initially and are immediately followed by mild ginger, fig, raisin, and molasses flavors. Mild flavors of cloves and nutmeg along with subtle cinnamon flavors come in next as ginger flavors grow significantly stronger. Subtle pumpkin flavors enter lastly as all previous flavors persist.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down smooth and somewhat creamy. Finishes with a subtle dryness.
NOTE: What a disaster of a beer. Pumpkin Ale? Where was all the pumpkin? Surely it wasn't overpowered by the egregious amounts of bourbon and ginger. The ginger, by the way, was just an awful addition to this style. Perhaps it's because I waited until January to drink this and the flavors got all mucked up. I figured being barrel-aged, this beer would be okay if it were a few months old. I guess not.

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Photo of superspak
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass; no bottle dating, assumed to be a 2015 vintage. Pours clear nearly opaque very dark brown color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of huge caramel, brown sugar, toffee, molasses, vanilla, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, raisin, fig, apple, toasted oak, bourbon, coconut, light herbal, and oak/toasted earthiness. Incredible aromas with fantastic complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, pumpkin spices, and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of huge caramel, brown sugar, toffee, molasses, vanilla, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, raisin, fig, apple, toasted oak, bourbon, coconut, light herbal, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light bourbon/oak spiciness and earthy spice bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, toffee, molasses, vanilla, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, raisin fig, apple, oak, bourbon, coconut, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, pumpkin spices, and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great malt/oak/spice balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and lightly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely incredible barrel aged imperial spiced brown ale style. All around fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, pumpkin spices, and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the ABV. An insanely amazing offering.

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Photo of cbutova
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- 750ml to five glasses at a share with a just about black, dark brown body. Small, one finger light off white head with a frothy consistency. Spotty and sheet lacing.

S- Spicy, toasted and a bit of the rum barrel. Plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger leads onto deep caramel, heavily toasted oak, brown sugar, creamy pies and vanilla sweets.

T- Rum barrel meets a heavily spiced pumpkin brew with a focus on toasty to brown malty tones. Caramel sweets balanced out by a drying spicy rum oak barrel. The spices are the last main component with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and numbing clove. A dessert with great barrel feel. Some dark fruits.

MF- Medium to heavy bodied leaning a bit toward the latter side. Low-medium carbonation with a smooth finish. Somewhat warm from the ABV.

My kind of pumpkin seasonal. Sweet, spicy, rum oak barrels and a good heavy mouthfeel to support all of these bold flavors. The dark, rich base beer provides balance and more importantly support for the barrage of spices which overpower some of the smaller Pumpkin ales.

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Photo of joe1510
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz Bomber
Cabin Stop - Hayward, WI

I can't honestly say that I often reach for pumpkin beer but this one is from Central Waters and it's barrel aged. It has to be good. It's dark, that's for sure, bordering on black but when backlit I can spot some chestnut highlights. The foam is silky and mocha as it rises to a sturdy finger in height. Each drink leaves behind heavy drink lines. A good looking beer, Headless Heron is.

The nose is certainly spiced but it's more in line of the spices I enjoy (ginger and nutmeg) instead of spices I don't (cloves). The oak is soft, a little buttery, and damp with bourbon. The barrel aging is very well integrated. The base beer is brown bread-y. A peppery alcohol bite rounds it out. I don't get much gourd but there is a soft, unspecified earthiness. The nose is warm and inviting.

The flavor follows the nose closely. It's rich, smooth, and warming. Brown bread and gourd lead the way with perfectly integrated spices, again, ginger and nutmeg leading the way. The bourbon barrel adds a ton of depth with a hint of vanilla, oak, soft coconut, and caramel. These three element (spices, beer, barrel) come together in near perfect harmony. Central Waters knows how to use a bourbon barrel to its maximum potential.

The body weighs in a hair heftier than moderate. I'd say it's big-boned... Carbonation is soft and adds an all around silkiness. There's a touch of alcohol spiciness that evaporates quickly and seems to dry up the finish slightly though some residual sugar is left in its wake. Highly drinkable, not sure of the abv.

Now, I'm not into pumpkin beers at all. As a matter of fact, this is the first pumpkin beer I have purchased in a few years. I pass by them on store shelves as quick as possible. They all seem overspiced, overly sweet, flat out artificial, or all of the above. Central Waters does it right when it comes to barrel aging and they nailed the spice profile on this beer. A pumpkin beer to my liking? Why yes, yes it is.

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Headless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Spice Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 377 ratings.
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