Beer Reviews Wychwood Pumpking

I may have mentioned it before but my local pub always has a couple of guest beers which are changed on a weekly basis. This means that without too much effort, I can sample different beers on draught on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re pure bowff – but what is life but a gamble.

Anyway, last night I was perusing the choices on offer when my eye was drawn towards the gruesome image of a huge and ugly, leering, grinning, evil face. (I really should drink somewhere more salubrious!) The face was of that of a pumpkin on one of the handpumps. A Halloween brew called Pumpking, no less. Now who would brew a beer specially for this time of year? Who else but those spooky little guys at the Wychwood Brewery.

Wychwood brewery started life back in 1983 as a one-man business producing 8 to 10 barrels per week. As demand grew, a much larger operation was set up on the site of an older brewery, which dated back to 1839. The Brewery now produces some 30,000 barrels a year.

The brewery uses local water from the river Windrush, English malt, hops and yeast. No additives are used and over the years the brewery has received many awards, mainly from the branches of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).

The brewery benefits from the fact that some, if not all of the larger supermarkets in the UK now stock a wide range of quality ales in bottles. Both Hobgoblin and Fiddler’s Elbow are extensively available across the UK in bottles and it is even relatively easy to get these brews on draught outside the Oxford area, even in darkest Scotland.

Pumpking pours to a light ruby-red, autumnal colour with a good, rocky, off-white and long lasting head with masses of lacing all the way down the glass. The aroma has a very strong, rich, fruity quality – akin to a fruit pie. There’s a definite baked apple feel and hints of vine fruit and banana with only a vague suggestion of floral hops.

It’s full-bodied with a chewy mouthfeel….very smooth with not a great deal of carbonation, it’s almost overwhelmingly fruity with a good level of sweet maltiness. This beer is more like a malt loaf than many malt loafs! I can’t help thinking of apple pie with this beer, it has to be one of the fruitiest I’ve ever tasted. It’s not until the finish that any hop flavour makes an appearance but when it does, it’s a powerful, heady, flowery kick with just the right amount of bitterness to balance the beer beautifully.

PS I couldn’t taste any pumpkin in it!

At 4.7 % ABV, you could safely drink a few of these – and I did – without talking complete nonsense – which I also did!

It’s rich and smooth and eminently drinkable and an excellent seasonal brew. Perfect to sip on while sitting beside a warming fire with some good company.

Would I drink it again? – Does Halloween stuff go on sale in the shops earlier every year?