Weekly Beer Review: Jack-O Pumpkin Shandy

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Jack-O Pumpkin Shandy

Traveler Beer Co.

$2.09/Bottle (12 oz)

Grade: B+

The Beginning:

I LOVE Halloween, enough to make a nearly three hour round trip every weekend to work for a pittance at a haunted house, just for the joy of terrorizing the populace. Still, the passing of the big day does carry a tidy little bonus to soothe the sting of having to wait another year: deeply discounted Halloween candy. I am not above buying candy with out-of-season wrappers when you’re getting it for 10 cents on the dollar. What does this have to do with this review? Nothing. Why do you ask? What are you implying? Are you suggesting that I ran out and bought Halloween-themed beer on the cheap once it was out of date? Hogwash! I’d never do such a thing. Eh, Probably.

The Brewer’s Pitch:

Jack-O is a delicious wheat beer, custom-modified to be perfect for fall. The wheat brings refreshment while the added spice makes it fit for the season. There’s even real fresh pumpkin involved, not just artificial flavoring. Available throughout the fall, this one is a great drink for something sweetly spiced and refreshing.

The Beer:

Jack-O pours an autumnal orangey-brown with a fluffy whipped-cream head the color of the foam on a pumpkin spice latte. It smells like canned pumpkin with a hint of hops and allspice peppered in. The beer is smooth, but quite light and thin, and the first taste that hits you is a delicately spiced pumpkin flavor. The pumpkin here is like you’d find in a canned or pureed pumpkin, and the spice is clove and allspice rather than the more familiar cinnamon profile of most pumpkin spices. The back end has hints of the wheat beer that provide the base of this shandy, with hints of grainy sweetness and a very faint hint of biscuit and toast. The aftertaste fades quickly since the thin beer does not coat the tongue well, but you’re left with a slightly pungent, almost chemical taste at the back of the tongue for a few moments.

The Breakdown:

This doesn’t sell itself as a pumpkin PIE beer, but that’s my default expectation of spiced pumpkin-flavored things. Instead, this is more like a blend of pumpkin and chai, with cloves taking the forefront and the spice profile as a whole acting more as a delicate counterpoint to the flavor of the pumpkin rather than the other way around. It’s much earthier, and more subtle than I’d expect from a shandy. It’s quite good, although it would benefit a lot from being a bit heavier- a fall seasonal should stand up to the fall chill. The aftertaste is unfortunate, but is so short-lived it doesn’t impact the overall taste much.

The Bottom Line:

I should have called the second section The Brewer’s PATCH, as in pumpkin patch amiright? Eh? Eh? Get it?

If they didn’t want us to drink all 30 beers in one night, then they wouldn’t put them all in the same box: