Terrapin Side Project 8: Pumpkinfest

Review Date 1/26/2010  By John Staradumsky

I just love the fall. The leaves changing color, the cooler weather,football, and of course, the beer. The latter, of course, is always a major consideration, but it also brings a dilemma. After all, fall is the time for Oktoberfest and the delightfully nutty-malty German style lagers that celebration implies.

But wait: fall is also the time for harvesting, and one of the best things you can harvest in fall is pumpkin. That's because pumpkins end up in all kinds of delicious things, like breads, and pies, and if you're a really lucky pumpkin, beer. The dilemma, then: which to drink, Oktoberfest, or Pumpkin brew? Thanks to the fine folks at Athens, Georgia's Terrapin brewery, you no longer have to decide. Now you can have both in one convenient glass with Pumpkinfest, brew number 8 in their Side Project line of (mostly) one-off brews.

Pumpkinfest was released last fall and supplies are dwindling as I type, but I am still seeing rogue bottles on store shelves. I had purchased a few several months ago, and finally got around to cracking a bomber bottle this evening. Shortly after t's release, I got to try it on draft at Twain's Billiards and Tap in Decatur, Georgia, and was immediately impressed with it.

Terrapin says they use a pound of pumpkin per barrel along with the spices, malt and hops. Here's the spec data from their website:

ABV: 6.1%

O.G.: 14.5

F.G.: 3.2

Malts: Munich, Vienna, Munich II, Catamunich II, Melanoiden

Hops: Vanguard, Hallertau Hershrucker (sic)

Spices: Cinnamon, Ginger, All Spice, Cloves


Terrapin Side Project Volume 8: Pumpkinfest pours to a hazy orange color with minimal head formation and a very spicy pumpkin pie nose. The body is crisp up front but immediately balanced by the spices: nutmeg and cinnamon being the most prominent, with a hint of ginger and clove as well (and maybe a hint of vanilla, though there's none used as an ingredient). The meaty, stringy, vegetal pumpkin flavors come through nicely as well.

What makes this one a little different though are the malts: nutty and toasty, light and dry, they make the perfect background for the pumpkin and spice. To be honest, the malt is a bit outpaced by the latter, but it's apparent enough to make a difference here, one that really impressed me. The beer finished dry from the spice more than anything else. and it's easy to drink a lot of this one. Fortunately, it's on the lower side (for a side project anyway) on the alcohol content level at just 6.1%.

Terrapin is really starting to hit it's stride with this series, and I just love this one. Five stars, a top notch brew and a great idea. Hopefully they'll release it as a seasonal next year in six-packs (as they did with the Gamma Ray Wheat Wine). In the meantime, if you see a bottle where you buy beer, be sure to buy it. You'll be glad you did.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.