Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Slowly getting into the pumpkin beers this year.  I look forward to the arrival of this style each year for several reasons.  I enjoy this style generally, the labels are often very fun/creative, and most of all, to see if anyone can unseat Southern Tier’s Pumking at the top of my list.  The only downside is that for reasons that I’m sure make perfect sense for brewers and/or distributors, these beers start showing up in mid-August when I’m just not ready to start thinking pumpkin.  Sometimes a line will sell out before October which is when I’m really ready to start branching out to the pumpkin beers.  But it’s starting to get cold, the leaves are beginning to change, and it’s that means it’s time to saddle up the pumpkin reviews.

First up is Vermont’s Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale.  Generally I’ve enjoyed Long Trail’s Brewmaster Series, so I’ve been looking forward to their take on an imperial pumpkin ale.


This beer pours a beautiful reddish orange color.  Not much in the way of head, but I poured it slowly into the glass as the label advised, so an aggressive pour might’ve yielded more head.  It has the expected pumpkin pie smell along with some faint spices (clove and cinammon are the ones I could pick out most prominently), but the nose is much fainter than you’d expect for something billing itself as an imperial beer.

The first taste reveals a little thinner mouthfeel than I’d like for the style, but borders on medium with medium carbonation.  Good pumpkin flavor with some pretty aggressive nutmeg flavors mixed in along with graham crackers and a few other spices I couldn’t really put my finger on.  The finish is a little woody and bitter which I grew increasingly tired of towards the end to be honest.

Vital Stats: Served at 48F into my CBS glass. 8% ABV.

Taste: B. Good, but greatness eludes this beer.   

Drinkability: B-. It’s an imperial obviously, so higher ABV, but the bitter finish began to grate on me after awhile.  It was a good beer, but the finish didn’t make me want to go back for seconds.  If they could tame that, it might rate higher. 

Packaging: B. I like that these labels have their own style, and that they tell (and show) you how it ought to be poured, but there’s nothing beyond the name an info required by law on the bottle otherwise, so that’s a bit of a letdown. 

Value: A-. $6.29 for a 22 oz imperial is AOK in my book. 


2 comments on “Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin Ale

  1. I have a hang up with pumpkin beers. My wife loves them, but i always feel dissatisfied after drinking them. They tend to be hit or miss (usually too sweet, too high alcohol content, hard to drink more than one) and i can never remember the good ones because the labels all look similar to me. I think i like the shipyard, the globe recently did a review of pumpkim beers http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2012/10/05/pumpkin-beers-for-fall/wA8B9RAnNIxsDzzJxR8w9K/story.html

  2. Saw that Globe post. We actually discussed the Globe piece on the back channel a little bit.  I don't understand his decision not to rate them because they weren't all the same style.  It would've been more interesting to see him go into more detail and actually rate them.  Pumpkin beers do vary quite a bit and different people seem to have different levels of tolerance for pumpkin/spice/sweetness.  Blue Moon is just the ticket for some people, others like the imperials.  It all comes down to what aspects you enjoy personally.  In my experience, the Shipyard Pumkinhead is a really unpredictable beer. <br> <br>It's their #1 best seller for the entire year, and they have a hard time keeping up with demand.  As a result, I'm pretty sure they contract some their production out elsewhere.  The result is, I never know what I'm going to get be it bottle or draft.  Sometimes it's nicely-spiced and balanced, other times it just tastes like Bud Lite with pumpkin syrup. 

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