The fall seasonals have arrived!
The last Smuttynose I'll review (at least for a while) is their Pumpkin Ale. Pumpkin Ales seem to be a common seasonal brew, especially on the East Coast (maybe I'll dig up one or two more). I think it probably presents a bit of a brewing challenge, because when you think of pumpkin you probably think both sweet and spicy, two flavors that you don't often find combined in a beer.
Smuttynose's take on the brew is interesting, and certainly pumpkiny, but it is a bit far out there for my tastes. First off, the "base" seems to be an amber ale, which lends this brew a pronounced hoppiness, which clashes a bit with the pumpkin's sweet flavors. The beer is a rollercoaster taste-wise, leading with a strong pumpkin-sweet-malt that deveops into an earthy spiciness before finally wholloping you with a pretty substantial dose of hops. The earth tones and the hops linger on your pallate for quite a while, giving the brew a very strong aftertaste. This is a bit of an issue, since the bitterness will probably still be lingering on the back of your tongue by the time you take your next sip, meaning you'll be simultaneously tasting the bitterness and the sweetness.
Overall, it's an interesting beer to be sure, but it will probably appeal to a narrow range of tastes. Maybe I'm just a big enough fan of pumkin pie or something...