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The Beer Circle » Beer, Cruzan Dark, Hardywood Park, Saison » Better From The Barrel: Hardywood Farmhouse and Rum Pumpkin

Better From The Barrel: Hardywood Farmhouse and Rum Pumpkin

On the heels of the outstanding news that Hardywood will begin distributing some of its stock to Arlington in November 2013, I decided to find out if their most recent Barrel Collection release was actually better from the barrel.

It all starts with Farmhouse Pumpkin, part of Hardywood’s Reserve Series. This pumpkin ale, farmhouse ale hybrid doesn’t fit nicely into one style, but piqued my interest as a different take on the pumpkin style that currently is so invasive to the shelves of my local beer stores. As is Hardywood’s style, this beer is brewed with ingredients produced locally in Richmond. The brewers themselves put together this Youtube video to describe the beer they envisioned:

Farmhouse Pumpkin
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Hardywood's Farmhouse Pumpkin pours out of a 750ml bottle into my Hardywood snifter hazy and orange in color. About a finger or two of white head builds up, but recedes to nothing within the first few sips. Bubbles slowly meander through the liquid, but the beer otherwise appears to be very still.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The aroma is more spicy than pumpkin-y. Nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon all come in to play, nicely balancing out the pumpkins. While the pumpkin itself doesn't take over, it makes for a very sweet aroma when combined with the brown sugar used in brewing.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Like the aroma, the taste is focused on the spices. Probably too much so, as I find it to be slightly unbalanced. The pumpkin and other sweetness is there, but just isn't strong enough to play with the spices. The saison yeast imparts a pleasant funkiness that I wasn't expecting. I find the aftertaste of nutmeg, with a slight hint of booze, to be off-putting.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
This beer needs more carbonation. I thought this would be the case when I noted the stillness in the appearance and when the cork hardly popped at all, but it's still a disappointment. Some bubbles would have really brightened this beer right up.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Hardywood continues to show its worth with relatively cheap 750ml bottles, easy releases, and still some local distribution. I can't wait until they send bottles up north to Arlington!
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
This is a beer that's better than the sum of its parts. While it doesn't stand out in any one category, it's quite enjoyable. It isn't in-you-face pumpkin, but it will satisfy your cravings for some.
Farmhouse Pumpkin

Beer Stats
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 8.50%
BA Score: 90
RB Score: 71

Next up, Hardywood let Farmhouse Pumpkin sit in Cruzan Dark Rum Barrels for around 16 months before bottling and releasing Rum Pumpkin.

Rum Pumpkin
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
About one finger of white head builds up on top of a brown-orange body that is slightly hazy. It's darker than the Farmhouse Pumpkin, which I had just a few hours prior, but generally looks the same. The bubbles don't raise up any faster in this one than they did before, either.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The aroma is extremely sweet, as most all of the spices seem to have been left behind in the barrel. It's mostly rum, but there is some pumpkin lingering underneath. I'm worried about how boozy this might taste.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
My fears of booziness were well placed as Rum Pumpkin knocks you over the face with it. The taste starts out with rum, gives you some rum in the middles, blends in a slight amount of pumpkin, and then finishes with booze. The only spices that hang around were probably imparted from the rum barrel, as they seem to have a completely different complexity than was highlighted in the Farmhouse Pumpkin. The sweetness takes the stage here, vice the spices before, which isn't bad. I'm just not sure that this is balanced enough to stand up to its already unbalanced base.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The taste is light and just as undercarbonated as its base beer. The aftertaste is all rum, so if you like rum then you're good to go. But otherwise, you probably should stay far away. The boozy finish makes it tough to finish the beer in the glass that I have.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Again, the release of this bottling went off without a hook. At $15 per 750ml bottle, it's a bit pricey. But, with the track record of Hardywood it's always worth it.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I was more disappointed in this one more than the Farmhouse Pumpkin. It's not a bad beer, but it certainly isn't one I plan to buy another of. I think that this spent too much time in the barrels, as the tastes that I enjoyed in the base beer are all gone. To answer the question, I don't believe that this beer is better from the barrel, but if you like spiced rum, you may disagree.
Rum Pumpkin

Beer Stats
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 10.50%
BA Score: N/A (9 Reviews)
RB Score: N/A (2 Reviews)

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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