Shipyard Brewing Co.
Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin
It’s strange to me how one brewery can make arguably one of the worst pumpkin beers every year but at the same time make one of the most under-appreciated and solidly good pumpkin beers. I don’t know how, but Shipyard does it.
Pumpkinhead, their standard 4.7% pumpkin beer, is abysmal (in my opinion). Seriously. I think it tastes like metal shavings and spice. I’ve tried this year’s batch and it’s just as bad as – if not worse than – last year’s batch. Flat, flavorless, bland … just not good.
Smashed Pumpkin, part of Shipyard’s Pugsley’s Signature Series, is the antithesis to Pumpkinhead. An imperial pumpkin ale, Smashed Pumpkin has been around for only a few years but has amassed a pretty strong following, myself and my wife included. There’s nothing that really stands out about the brewing process, but Smashed Pumpkin rivals Pumking in terms of getting pumpkin pie into a bottle.
The beer pours a beautiful hazy deep orange color. There’s about a finger of a foamy head that vanishes quickly. Very weak lacing but some good alcohol legs. It kind of looks like what I’d expect a glass of pumpkin juice to look like.
The nose is a very mellowed balance between the spice and the pumpkin. You definitely get nutmeg and cinnamon off the nose, but it’s weak compared with other pumpkin beers. There is a big pumpkin puree note, though. It’s a bit weaker than Pumking, but still a really solid nose.
On the palate, it’s got mild carbonation and a full-bodied mouthfeel. Middle of the mouth, there’s this really big spiced apple note with a bit bite of cinnamon. That continues into the end when the pumpkin and allspice show up. The lingering taste is that of cinnamon apple, and it’s really nice. You get the classic pumpkin pie spice notes and the pumpkin as well, but it ends on a much more mellow sweet note.
Smashed Pumpkin is a sleeper hit. I grabbed a bottle of it last year when I first saw it on shelves and it’s now become one of my go-to pumpkin beers, coming in at No. 3 on the pumpkin beer hierarchy for me. It’s possible it gets passed over because of how disappointing Pumpkinhead is, but believe me when I say this one is nothing like Pumpkinhead.