Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hoppin' Frog - Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale

One good pumpkin beer deserves another, right?  This is actually a brand that I have not sampled before, despite their strong local presence and fairly local brewery location in Akron, OH.  Today's review is from the Hoppin' Frog Brewery and I'll be tasting their Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale.  I can't say I've ever had a "double pumpkin" before, but this one looks to be a bit bigger than most regular pumpkin ales and rings in at 8.4% ABV.

Aroma 12/12
This aroma is a pumpkin smashed and liquified into a glass!  There are loads of creamy pumpkin and a detectable vanilla that blends delightfully with the pumpkin. Together they're almost are like a pumpkin ice cream.  The spices are fantastic as well!  Cinnamon abounds, the alcohol warmth is noticeable without being overwhelming, the ginger adds some interesting peculiarities, and the nutmeg is a softer spice that really adds to this beer.  The cloves show up as well, but are much more subtle than other pumpkin beers.  As a whole bouquet it almost comes across as a pumpkin with a hint of mint.  The spices are just that delicate and tickle the nose just so.  This is great and a wonderful balance to boot!

Appearance 2/3
I hate to compare pumpkin beers to the color pumpkin, but in this beer it is unavoidable.  It absolutely glows pumpkin orange, with golden pilsner-esque highlights, and a variety of other appropriate burnt harvest tones.  The head was paltry after a moderately aggressive pour, left no lacing, was gone before I could even take a second picture, and is barely detectable even as I write this.

Flavor 18/20
The initial flavors are very interesting.  The pumpkin is strong up front, comes with faint roast malt, and a bit of the bitter side of the spices.  The backbone is dark and bready (with the bit of sour that comes with good bread), but quickly gives way to the minty pumpkin flavor and lots of it.  The backbone finishes up with a reprise of the roast malt and an über-smooth caramel.  A quick slurp shows a lot of the alcohol warmth.  The finish continues the caramel tones, but the ginger really comes out and I think contributes to the drying finish.  The mint sensation also continues and I'm not sure which of the spices, or combination thereof, is responsible but it is distinct.

Mouthfeel 5/5
Smooth.  Smooth to the Nth power.  It's a great characteristic to have in a pumpkin seasonal since it goes so well with the natural qualities of the pumpkin.  Please don't confuse that with a cream-laden, full body.  The body is actually surprisingly light for the style and the high level of smoothness.  The alcohol warmth is pleasantly present and actually lends a little bitter to the overall blend.  The carbonation is also appropriate for the overall texture of the beer, but without making the beer feel flat.

Overall Impression 9/10
I really like this beer.  Excellent mouthfeel, superior smoothness from the ingredients, plus some very delicious flavors and aromas all make this beer one to purchase.  The minty sensation is unusual, but not unpleasant, and I'm pretty sure is the way the strong ginger is interacting with the other spices.  I love a variation on a style!

Total 46/50
I really enjoyed this beer!  The pumpkin/spice ratio was fantastic and the spices, despite being undeniably minty, were a really nice twist on a great seasonal style.  The mint never clashed with the pumpkin, only contrasted with it in an appropriately spicy way.  As a whole, it's more spicey than pumpkin-y, but neither one is lacking or excessive at any point.  The body and carbonation worked in tandem and were great characteristics for the style.  It's a unique brew that deserves a taste (or two or three).  This will definitely a brand I'll be looking at more closely in the future!

I feel like I'm not doing this beer justice in my description, but it's only more reason for you to try it for yourself!  Even the burps are good!

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