MY KINGDOM FOR a balanced pumpkin beer. Be thy authentic pumpkin-mashed ales, pureed adjuncts in fermentation, or merely spiced after the fact with pumpkin complements, America’s ongoing love affair with this autumn seasonal has yet to yield an unequivocal success. To this palate, at least.
Latest in this errant quest is Arcadia’s Jaw-Jacker, a spiced wheat beer of 6% ABV that falls into the third of the aforementioned categories. Though it has no pumpkin in its recipe, its bright orange transparency, tall foaming head, and mélange of spices would brand it in any blind tasting as aggressively autumnal. Too aggressive, in fact. Here is one case in which more (i.e. any) pumpkin would actually be merited to balance the overpowering spices–cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, possibly clove–that Arcadia burbles were added “in the exact proportions of our brewer’s Grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe.” Trouble is, this isn’t a pie; it’s a light-bodied ale with no pumpkin additive, mildly hopped at that, with hardly enough of a foundation to carry all its toppings. A modest wheat component in the grist does make the mouthfeel nicely spry, but otherwise the siege of spices ensures that no other flavors emerge unscathed.
Served: 12 oz bottle