Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Brewery: River Horse (NJ)
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 8.1%
Grade: B

The danger with pumpkin ales, I think, is the tendency for brewers to make them too malty, and therefore too sweet. That goes double for imperial pumpkin ales, which seem to be this year's big thing, now that pumpkin ales themselves are fairly commonplace and ho-hum. With all that extra malt, you're bound to get extra sweetness — unless the brewer takes countermeasures to dry it out. Hipp-O Lantern hits the typical pumpkin ale profile, with even bigger maltiness and medium sweetness (somewhere between Schlafly and Weyerbacher, if you're keeping score.)

The spices are a bit more subdued in this one, and like with most pumpkin ales, they don't do much to create a sense of pumpkin on their own — they just kind of ride along with the chewy sweet malts. So many of these pumpkin beers would be quite decent if judged on their own, in a vacuum of any other pumpkin beers, but just don't stand out from the competition. I always have a very hard time remembering exactly what I liked or didn't like about any particular pumpkin ale. If you're looking for a stronger version with subtle but well-mixed spices, this is a fine one, I guess. I'd recommend Weyerbacher in its place, if you're looking for something similar but better. But this one will do in a pinch.

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