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Autumn Seasonal Beers are beers that suggest cool weather and the autumn harvest season, and may include pumpkins, gourds, or other squashes, and associated spices.
Overall Impression: A malty, spiced beer that often has a moderately rich body and slightly warming finish suggesting a good accompaniment for the cool fall season, and often evocative of harvest or Thanksgiving traditions.
Aroma: Malty, spicy, and balanced. A wide range is possible, as long as it evokes the harvest theme. The declared ingredients and concept set the expectation. Hops are often subtle. Alcohol is often present, but smooth and supportive. The components should be well-integrated, and create a coherent presentation. See Flavor section for spice, malt, sugar, and vegetable character.
Appearance: Medium amber to coppery-brown; lighter versions are more common. Clear, if not opaque. Well-formed, persistent, off-white to tan head. Some versions with squashes will take on an unusual hue for beer, with orange-like hints.
Flavor: Malty, spicy, and balanced. Allow for brewer creativity in meeting the theme objective. Warming or sweet spices common. Rich, toasty malty flavors are common, and may include caramel, toasted bread or pie crust, biscuit, or nut flavors. May include distinctive sugar flavors, like molasses, honey, or brown sugar. Flavor derived from squash-based vegetables are often elusive, often only providing a richer sweetness. The special ingredients should be supportive and balanced, not overshadowing the base beer. Bitterness and hop flavor are usually restrained to not interfere with the special character. Usually finishes somewhat full and satisfying, occasionally with a light alcohol flavor. Roasted malt characteristics are typically absent.
Mouthfeel: Body is usually medium to full, and may be chewy. Moderately low to moderately high carbonation. Age character allowable. Warming alcohol allowable.
Comments: Using the sensory profile of products that suggest the harvest season, like pumpkin pie, apple pie, or candied yams, balanced with a supportive, often malty base beer. The description of the beer is critical for evaluation; judges should think more about the declared concept than trying to detect each individual ingredient. Balance, drinkability, and execution of the theme are the most important deciding factors.
Commercial Examples: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Elysian Punkuccino, Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, UFO Pumpkin, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin