EPIC Brewing Co. – Salt Lake City, UT
DC Brau Brewing Co. – Washington, DC
Fermentation Without Representation Imperial Pumpkin Porter
I know, I know. I said I was done reviewing pumpkin beers for the season and had moved on to winter seasonals. But it’s hard to pass up diving into one last pumpkin beer, especially one I’ve been on the hunt for.
As part of their Exponential Series and in collaboration with DC Brau, the first packaging brewery in the Nation’s Capitol, EPIC Brewing has put out an imperial porter crossed with a pumpkin beer. EPIC is just out of my reach, but my recent trip to Charlotte yielded a bottle for my enjoyment. I’d been hoping to get my hands on a bottle all season, especially after fellow pumpkin beer fanatic Bryan’s glowing review over on This Is Why I’m Drunk.
The beer pours a fairly thick deep, dark brown. It’s almost a black, but there’s just a hint of little getting through the top of the glass. Whatever head there was didn’t stick around for very long, migrating to the sides of the glass almost immediately. Not a lot of lacing, but the alcohol legs that stuck around were mighty nice.
The nose is exactly what I’d expect from a blend of pumpkin beers and imperial porters. There are the standard spices – cinnamon, clove, allspice, etc. – but they’re a bit muted. Instead, a roasted pumpkin seed scent is very strong, coupled with the roasted dark coffee notes from the porter. There’s also a thick sweetness over everything. There’s a thick almost chocolate syrup smell with big hints of caramel.
At first sip, I thought if you hadn’t told me this was a pumpkin beer, I wouldn’t have noticed. And then the finish came around, and it was most certainly a pumpkin beer. A roasted bitterness greets you first on the taste, followed with milky smooth mouthfeel and just a smidge of carbonation. The flavors in the middle of the mouth are a mix of black coffee and dark chocolate, melded perfectly together. The pumpkin used in the brewing lends a luscious mouthfeel that incredibly smooth.
As I said, the “pumpkin” in this pumpkin beer really flourishes on the finish. There’s cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove. But again, unlike many other pumpkin beers, it’s subdued and muted a bit by the chocolate from the porter. It’s a really a perfect blend and something I haven’t gotten before in other pumpkin beers.
Instead of using a lighter-bodied beer as the base and letting the spices shine through, the use of an imperial porter base is a nice touch and a good alternative. It’s certainly a porter first and foremost, but the pumpkin pie spices you’d expect are also pretty strong, working well to balance one another. Like Elysian‘s Dark O’ the Moon – a pumpkin stout – it uses the spices as a way to add a twist to an already great base beer instead of just blasting you with them. A good way to end the pumpkin beer season, if I say so myself.