If you haven’t noticed, the leaves outside have exploded into a vibrant display of oranges, reds, yellows and browns. Accompanying the leaves, carved pumpkins have made their annual appearance on porches and in windowsills, while various ghosts and skeletons have been strung up on front lawns. In six more days, kids will come out of the woodwork, sporting costumes that strive to instill fear, pay homage to a beloved character, or give someone a good laugh. While these things are all wonderful, this time of the year also brings with it something else only available during the fall – pumpkin ale.
Pumpkin ales, or pumpkin beers, are a curious brew. I’ve only had a handful at this point, but in my experience they range from “this tastes like pumpkin” to “this tastes wrong.” With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it was only fitting that I give yet another pumpkin ale a whirl. This year it’s Flat 12’s Flat Jack Pumpkin ale.
Flat 12 was founded in 2010, in the nearby Indianapolis, Indiana, by Rob Caputo and Sean O’Connor. They offer five regular beers, four seasonal beers, and regularly release limited-run beers for events. The Flat Jack Pumpkin ale is advertised as a blend of spices and pumpkin with a slightly sweet and malty flavor, and clocks in at 5.7% ABV.
Various spices are immediately present when sipping this beer. Hints of nutmeg and ginger give the drink an initial kick, similar to a gingerbread cookie. Following this is a delightful undertone of pumpkin. The advertised malt is almost unnoticeable, as the spices and pumpkin overpower everything else. Once the drink has gone down, the aftertaste is extremely pleasant. If you were to close your eyes following a sip of Flat Jack, you would be certain you had just eaten pumpkin pie. I’ve tasted more pumpkin in pumpkin ales, but I wouldn’t change a thing here.
Despite the extreme level of spice in this beer’s flavor, the drink itself is very easy to swallow with virtually no bite. While the malt isn’t very noticeable in the flavor, it does make an appearance here, giving the beer a smoothness I often don’t see in a drink of this ABV. Overall, this is one of the smoother pumpkin ales I’ve had, and a smooth beer in general.
As someone who hasn’t had too many pumpkin ales, this is a tough one for me to review. I very much enjoyed the flavor and overall drinking experience, but to my taste buds, the pumpkin was more of an undertone and not so much the star of the show. This did result in a great aftertaste, and I would gladly drink this beer again. The only criticism I have is that perhaps the beer should rebrand itself as a pumpkin pie ale and start a new trend. I can’t say I would complain if such an ale took off. Overall, this is a great beer and I wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin pie, and spicy beers. Just know that you aren’t going to get a blast of pumpkin to the face, but a very unique and spicy drinking experience.