Avery Rumpkin 2015 (Batch No. 5)

Avery Brewing Co. Rumpkin Batch No 5 / 2015

Brewed by: Avery Brewing Co.

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: Ale
  • Variation: Pumpkin, Barrel Aged
  • Seasonal: Fall
  • ABV: 18%
  • IBU: N/A

Notes: A member of Avery’s “Annual Barrel Series.” This was the fifth annual batch of Rumpkin.

Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients

We wondered what would happen if a monstrous pumpkin ale, plump full of spice gourdiness, were aged in fine fresh rum barrels to add suggestions of delicate oak and candied molasses. Pumpkin is what happens!

Hops: Bravo

Malts: Special B, Acidulated, Honey Malt, 2-Row

Additional: Pumpkin, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Ginger. Aged in rum barrels.

More Avery Rumpkin 2015 Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Follows the Avery “Annual Barrel Series” branding, with skull and cross bones symbol of death on a jug with a pumpkin next to it.

Color: Cognac or whiskey colored, hazy.

Aroma: Mild spice with strong alcohol fumes.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 12oz. Bottle

Served in: Snifter

We have never been so warned about drinking a beer as we were with Avery Brewing Co. Rumpkin, their pumpkin ale aged in rum barrels. Understandably so, at a sturdy 18% ABV, our local bottle shop owner cautioned to make it “your only beer of the night.” After picking some up, Paste Magazine released their “Blind-Tasting and Ranking 45 of the Best Pumpkin Beers”, where they made the following hilarious observations about Rumpkin:

A single sip of this would be an instant hangover cure before immediately making you drunk again. It should be kept in the little casks on the necks of St. Bernard rescue dogs. Like a ridiculous barleywine on steroids, it’s wonderful in small doses—very small doses—if you can handle the booziness and resulting flavor bomb.

But this type of talk did not intimidate us, only got us more excited to dive in. And speaking of warnings, we wanted to pass along a few of our own precautions if you have the guts to tangle with Rumpkin:

  • The label recommended to serve at 45-55°, but in the case with any big beer, it was better warmer — not as much heat, but some of the flavors did drop off a bit.
  • What the bottle did not mention was to pour carefully, which we learned the hard way. A very un-filtered ale, with lots of fine gourd sediment floating around if you pour too fast.

Avery Rumpkin featured two sets of aromas. It was so strong when the cap was popped, a large waft of boozy vapors appeared like somebody passed a well spiked cider under our noses. Then, with the typical craft beer sniff test, the ale almost singed our nostrils with a deep inhale. There was a gentle amount of pleasing spice aroma, but mostly fumey hard booze at the end of each whiff. Can you get a buzz from smelling strong alcohol? No, seriously…

After it was poured, what little carbonation there was escaped through its slender coating of froth, because this rum barrel aged monstrosity drank pretty much flat. Rumpkin’s body was perfect for a spiced fall beer — on the thicker side of medium, with a soft mouthfeel.

This ale shared several traits in common with cognac: color, aroma, the need to sip it slowly, and a chest warming sensation after each drink. It was hard to tell if Rumpkin was a weak spiced cocktail, or a strong-ass beer! You would never think rum and pumpkin would pair, but they worked well together in this ale.

Its mix of rum and pumpkin, along with the spices used to brew the initial base pumpkin beer melded together almost like a spiced apple cider. There was a modest booziness up front, where Rumpkin’s fall spices kicked in with cinnamon and nutmeg, and some cidery or candied sweetness.

It was probably closest to a mulled wine – a little rough around the edges, but with plenty of herbs, spice, and fruit. For the finish, more booziness emerged with some rum vapor harshness in there, but not overly done. Okay, it was a little rugged for a beer, but nothing to drop the glass and run away from screaming.

Avery Rumpkin didn’t disappoint as either a high ABV thrill-seeker beer, or a true pumpkin ale. Brace for impact with this one, but its more balanced and well-rounded than one might think. But then again, if you even debate the challenge of 18%, don’t bother with it.

We just learned Avery Brewing Co brews another barrel aged Pumpkin monster called Pump[ky]n, a porter aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. Sign us up for that next fall…

Final Score: 3.5/5

3.5 Stars

Graded on a curve as a novelty heavy hitter of an ale, we could have given Avery Rumpkin a 4+. But as an overall rating for a pumpkin beer, we had to go a little lower for its fully expected, yet somewhat well-hidden booziness.

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