For beerlovers, filling the Pumpkinhead void
Since the fall of 2008, beerlovers everywhere have looked forward to one thing: the sale of Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale. This local favorite has earned a place in the hearts of students on the Hill, both past and present. But the joy of Pumpkinhead is a short-lived affair—as quickly as it arrives on store shelves, it disappears at the end of October, not to be seen or tasted again until the next year.
And thus enters Shock Top’s recently unveiled Pumpkin Wheat Ale. The beer—the latest in the Shock Top line—was released in fall 2011 in an attempt to join the ranks of other pumpkin ale predecessors.
Shock Top, which is bottled in St. Louis, Mo. as one of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s fastest growing brands, debuted with its Belgian White ale in 2007. The brand has gained popularity over recent years, with a 24 percent increase in sales in 2010.
According to the Shock Top website, “Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat is a traditional Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with ripe pumpkins and a variety of autumnal spices, including nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. This seasonal unfiltered wheat ale has a deep amber color and is crafted with a refreshingly distinct pumpkin spice that fully captures all the flavors of fall.”
As far as I could tell, Shock Top lived up to this promise. The whole experience of the ale—from my purchase at the store to its consumption—was an enjoyable one. The bottle itself is very attractive and akin to its better-known Belgian White counterpart. The scenic wheat field of the Belgian White label is replaced by a dark green, fall-themed one scattered with illustrated pumpkins, while the iconic Shock Top orange slice face sports an orange and green mohawk, symbolic of the color varieties of its main ingredient.
Upon tasting Pumpkin Wheat, the flavor is undeniably pleasing, but surprisingly pumpkin isn’t the first taste to linger on the tongue. The inclusion of nutmeg and cloves overpower the flavors of the pumpkin and cinnamon, leaving a distinct taste after drinking. And although this pumpkin-flavored ale seems to lack in its key ingredient, it has a great taste regardless—and coming in at 5.2 percent alcohol, a reasonably priced six-pack will go a long way. But the big question still remains: have we found the perfect Pumpkinhead replacement?
Although Shock Top’s Pumpkin Wheat is a great beer, it lacks the charm and long-lasting flavor of Pumpkinhead. The best part of drinking Pumpkinhead is the spicy zing it leaves on your tongue, and Pumpkin Wheat leaves nothing of the sort.