Aug 9, 2010

Shipyard Cellar Aged Smashed Pumpkin

Note: this is a review of a promotional sample I received from the brewery.

Man, last week was lame. As some of you may or may not have been aware, several of my websites including The Barley Blog were part of a wider swath of hacked sites across the Interwebs. For a good 12 or so hours any time you visited this site you were greeted with the not so friendly Google malware screen — letting you know that this site was serving malicious code.

It wasn’t doing so intentionally. Some jackass had injected code into several of the site’s working files.

After what seemed like days of cleaning up code and removing mysterious files from the server, we were back in business, but still not fully right in the head. The whole experience was more than frustrating, to say the least.

Then I remembered something.

Earlier last week, a bottle of Shipyard Brewing’s Cellar Age Smashed Pumpkin had been delivered to the house. This was exactly what I needed to take the edge off the end of a busy work week. Initially, I was going to wait till it had truly been a year since I first reviewed this beer, but I just couldn’t wait.

When Shipyard Brewing bottled this beer last year, they put some aside for a limited release. According to the press release, Smashed Pumpkin has “…become richer and more complex…” as a result of the additional aging. After just the first few sips, I would certainly agree with that.


Smashed Pumpkin still pours a rather light, orangish amber in color with a good sized orange-tinted head that faded slowly.


Out of all the elements that make up the beer’s nose, the pumpkin appears to have become the more subdued item. It’s certainly still in the mix, but it steps back a bit allowing the spices (nutmeg mostly) to shine. There’s also a more of a citrus component to the nose that I don’t recall picking up when the beer was fresh.


Perhaps it was the circumstances that existed when I took my first sip. Perhaps it’s that this was the first pumpkin ale that I’ve had since last fall. Then again, perhaps it’s the cellar aging. Either way, this beer tastes damn good. Glancing over my notes from last year, Smashed Pumpkin certainly has gotten more complex with age. The spices are much more dominant on the tongue as the pumpkin stays in the background as a complimentary flavor instead of acting as the driving force behind the beer. The alcohol has mellowed as well, but is still enough of a component within the brew that it — in conjunction with the beefier spice presence — gives the beer a bit of a barleywine personality. It’s obviously not in that style, but that’s the impression it adds to the mix.


From what I can recall, this is the first aged pumpkin ale I’ve ever tried. And, if they all turn out this good after a little time in the cellar, it looks like I have some experimenting to do starting this Fall. I really enjoyed Smashed Pumpkin fresh, but the aged version of the beer puts it to shame with a more complex, spicier and full flavored drinking experience.

Rating: 4/5

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