Beer Tasting: The Great Pumpkin, Wet Hop Harvest Ale, and Beachcomber

Much has been happening outside of brewing for us the past couple of months and that has resulted in limited time to dedicate toward brewing and blogging. The original goal with ThirdLeapBrew.com was to keep the website (in general) updated regularly, with two to three posts per month, in an effort to keep things fresh. Unfortunately we have yet to blog that frequently, but moving forward, this is a priority.

Since the installation of the electric brewhouse, we have brewed six batches total; Hoppopotamus, Beachcomber, Brewberry, The Great Pumpkin, Wet Hop Harvest Ale, and Beachcomber (again). The only one yet to be kegged and tasted in Brewberry.

When comparing the total number of batches to beer tasting reviews, it became very evident that we need to bring everyone up to speed on how our beers actually taste! That being said, below you will find our reviews for The Great Pumpkin, Wet Hop Harvest Ale, and Beachcomber (second batch).

The Great Pumpkin is our fall seasonal beer, and just as its name indicates, it is a pumpkin ale. Yes, we know that pumpkin beers have become somewhat of a novelty autumn beer – but to us, there is nothing that can beat a nice, malty, spiced beer come September/October. The base style for The Great Pumpkin is a brown ale – somewhat of a cross between English (malts) and American (hops, yeast) versions. It showcases a beautiful ruby-brown hue with a nice, thick, frothy white head. For aromatics, spice and vanilla are prominent with hints of malt, bread, roasted coffee, chocolate, plum, and fig. As it warms, toffee and coffee ice cream aromas dominate the nose. Initially, it tastes of slight chocolate and roasted malt with a touch of spice, vanilla, and toffee on the finish. The Great Pumpkin has a medium mouthfeel with a touch of sweetness from the specialty malts that balance the spice and vanilla extremely well – almost too well in fact! Overall we are very happy with this first batch of The Great Pumpkin. In the future we look to add graham crackers to the mash to give it some additional aromatics in addition to a bit more spice and vanilla to bump up the flavor profile a hair. We hope to re-brew this one in the next month or so to enjoy with Thanksgiving dinner!

Wet Hop Harvest Ale is a limited release beer featuring fresh picked, homegrown, wet hops. Wet hops introduce a unique, robust flavor that just can’t be achieved with normal dried hops. And best of all, they are grown right in our backyard! We took last year’s recipe and changed the hop bill based on this year’s hop growth – which meant more Columbus and Centennial. We tried not to fuss with the recipe too much since this was one of our best-received beers last year. Wet Hop Harvest Ale’s appearance was spot on with 2012′s version – golden hued, with a great head that clings to the glass as it subsides. There are non-aggressive scents of grapefruit, citrus, and floral hop notes, with just a touch of spice and caramel. It has great malt flavor but lacks enough hop bitterness to come through as a bigger IPA. Wet Hop Harvest Ale is medium bodied, with a hint of sweetness from the unbalanced malt/hop ratio. Overall it is very enjoyable but needs more hops next year! Part of the challenge in using homegrown hops is targeting the optimal harvest time – too early or late and you can lose out on the precious alpha acids that contribute to bitterness. Perhaps we harvested a tad too early this year, or perhaps we just have to bump up the IBU to better meld with the malt backbone. Next year!

Our latest batch of Beachcomber turned out even better than the first! Several changes were incorporated into this batch that we noted in our brew logs and tasting notes from last round. It still pours a dense, milky-white head with lots of lacing on the glass and has the same, bright straw-like color. The changes in recipe can been seen in this version’s aroma and flavor profiles! We shifted the aroma away from being exclusively yeast dominated toward harmony with the fruity American hops. Notes of grapefruit, tangerine, apricot, yeast, clove, and spice are all present in the nose. The flavor is incredible, with loads of tropic fruit up front – mango, pineapple, strawberry, tangerine, and peach, with just a touch of alcohol at the end. We are really blow away at how tropical this beer tastes, reminiscent of the pleasant taste of Red Gatorade or Hawaiian Punch. Still very light on the tongue and this time around it finished as dry as we had hoped.

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