Thimble Island Dark Pumpkin Porter
1 Pint, 5% ABV
Purchased at the Westbrook Lobster House, Wallingford
2015 (in a bottle) update at the bottom!
I used to be able to say things like, “I don’t like pumpkin beers” and I could be confident in that opinion. All pumpkin beers were horrid little ales filled with nonsense like nutmeg or allspice or some weird squashy residue. No thanks.
Then the craft beer boom boomed and now we seem to almost have a pumpkin variety of every beer type. I’ve had a great pumpkin saison this year and now I’ve had this: a pumpkin porter. Weird. But is it good?
Yeah, it is. Which again, is weird.
Weird because I still really don’t like spiced beers. The Dark Pumpkin was very most definitely spiced with all the usual pumpkin beer spices – in fact, this one sort of tasted like pumpkin pie. In a porter. But I didn’t hate it – and I hate pumpkin pie.
Buy my hatred of pumpkin pie is first and foremost because it has the consistency of vomit. Then there’s always that layer of wet on top. Then there’s that sound people make when eating it that I simply cannot be near. And finally, you’re eating a vegetable for dessert. There is nothing redeeming about pumpkin pie other than the holiday on which it is traditionally served.
Ask yourself this: If pumpkin pie was any good, why in the world wouldn’t you make/serve/eat it more than ONE day a year? I rest my case.
Thimble Island Says:
I can’t find record of them saying anything about this.
The Dark Pumpkin was the first release in what Thimble Island is calling their “Unchartered Series.” I stopped by the brewery in late 2013 to find a “newly” (to me) expanded tap and tasting room. A vast improvement over their initial little space. Since I thought it would just be the tiny space I was familiar with, I’d left my family in the car.
Whoops. I was given a rather generous sample of the dark pumpkin, which I knew Hoang would enjoy. But I bought a growler of the new (to me) Sunken Stout instead. The plan was to have lunch at the Westbrook Lobster House – which is in Wallingford, because that makes about as much sense as a pumpkin porter – at which Thimble had just had a “Meet the Brewer” night.
And therefore, the restaurant would still have the Dark Pumpkin on tap. Which they did.
It really is ridiculous how much planning goes into my scoring these beers.
I ordered Hoang the Dark Pumpkin and I was right – she loved it. I had half her glass and yes, it was very good as I previously mentioned. Definite pumpkin pie notes but the malt of the porter muted anything over-the-top. And that’s just key with these things.
For me, beer is beer. When you start dumping in new flavors and spices and stuff, be careful. Chill out, do it right.
And if you do, you get the rare seal of CTMQ approval on a spiced beer; well done Thimble Island, well done.
Sad 2015 (in a bottle) update: Oh boy… Since this original review, Thimble Island has expanded quite a bit. They also bottle a bunch of their stuff now. And, it seems, with more tank space and bigger production, they also got bigger deliveries of nutmeg and allspice and whatever else goes into this beer.
Because this bottle version in 2015 suffers from the same fate almost all of these “pumpkin” beers suffer: TOO MUCH DAMN SPICE AND CRAP. I know that most peoole who like this whole genre of beers demand that, but they aren’t writing this post. I used to say that this beer was a good fall beer for those of us who aren’t big fall beer fans. I can’t say that anymore. And that makes me a little sad.
Overall Rating:B+ (C- for the 2015 bottle though)
Rating vs. Similar style: n/a