Nick Carr on October 25, 2017 0 Comments Photo Credit: Wasatch Brewery / Twitter Quick Characteristics Brewery Wasatch Brewery Location Park City, UT Style Imperial Stout Pumpkin Ale ABV 6.5% IBU 14 Hops Willamette Malts Chocolate, Pale, ? Other Ingredients Spices, Pumpkin Shelf Life 1+ years Suggested Glass Tulip, Pint, Mug Serving Temp 50-55°F Availability Fall Seasonal (Limited) Food Pairings Lamb Roast, Grilled Steak, A Triple Cream Cheese, Slightly Browned Pumpkin Pie An Ale Tale He’d been sitting on his porch, watching the parade of kids transformed for this single evening to witches, goblins, ghouls, and ghosts. They laughed and sprinted from house to house gathering the bountied sweets owed this night, in this season. A few had come up his walk, but not many. He did his best not to feel slighted. After all, he was a newly arrived stranger in the small town. But he liked watching. Just before 8:30, as if by some signal, the crowds of kids shouting and running between houses began to thin. A small green faced witch veered up his neighbors walk, making one more quick plea for sweets before hurrying to a waiting car. Parents, still laughing, expertly corralled their charges and herded them toward home. A door opened down the street and he watched a woman in a house rob carry something out onto the porch. She knelt by the orange Jack-o-lantern glowing on the edge of the steps and set the thing she carried down beside it. The lighted face of the jack disappeared as it was blown out. A match was struck and disappeared within the top of the thing she’d carried. He realized she was lighting a new lantern. She picked up the old one, stood, and faced the street for a long moment before turning and disappearing back inside. John studied the new Jack. It was a few houses down, but something looked different. There was a strange empty blackness surrounding the leering mouth, the downturned eyes. There was no pumpkin glow, just the grin and eyes bright-lit floating in the dark. A door banged and John turned his head. Another person had come onto their porch and was kneeling. And then another; and another. Soon there was a person on each porch, some still in pieces of costume, others in house robs, or street clothes. Slowly the street transformed. Orange Jacks were extinguished and the new odd lanterns lit and rotated street-ward. Then, their task completed, each person retreated back inside, setting up a soft drumming as doors were shut up. Then with a humming buzz the street lights went out. He looked up and down the dark street. A pale crescent moon shown, but it did little to ease the gloom. It was just the bright eyes and grins glowing, glowing. Manic grins, comic grins, goofy grins, toothy grins, evil grins under droopy eyes, sharp eyes, squinting angry eyes. They seemed to float there in the dark suspended somewhere in the voided blackness between the ground and the shadow-dull glow of curtained windows. John walked down to his front gate and stood for a long moment glancing up and down the street. Feeling strange. Everything about the sudden change on the street was creepy. He opened the gate and started a slow walk down the street. He swiveled his head side to side taking in each glow-bright face as he passed. He caught a whiff of roastiness on the air. It was warming, hinting at cinnamon and clove, with a vegetal backdrop. It grew stronger and he realized the smell was coming from the burning faces watching him from each house he passed. “Shouldn’t be out, not this night.” John jumped sideways, almost crying out at the suddenness of the voice so close. He turned breathing hard. At the bottom of the porch, framed against another glowing face and the low light from a window was the form of a man. Photo Credit: Wasatch Brewery “I.. I’m sorry?” “Just saying, you shouldn’t be out and about right now is all.” John waited not sure what to say. “You the new one? Probably don’t even know yet do ya.” “I… I am newly moved here.” John glanced around the street. “What’s going on?” The man didn’t answer for what seemed a long time. John heard the man breathing and thought he saw the man looking up the street. Then the man seemed to come to some decision. “It’d be too late for you to get back to your house. They’re coming now. Come in here and sit. You should know a few things.” John looked up the street. “Who’s com….” He trailed off as a wisp of white materialized up the street. It glowed lightly and floated. “What’s that?” “You either come in now or you’re on your own.” John moved sideways through the gate, unable to take his eyes off of the street, his mind unable to quite wrap around the question he was trying to voice. The man moved onto the porch and pointed to a chair. He seemed little concerned with the pale white forms. “Sit. We’ll need to be drinking this to be able to watch from out here.” The man handed John a glass. John took it, his eyes still turned to the movements out in the dark. John licked his lips. His mouth suddenly felt very dry and he sat heavily in the chair. “Wha.. What… Are those ghosts?” John finally tore his eyes away from the street and refocused on the man sitting beside him. “They are.” More spirits were arriving, some rising from the ground at the front of houses, others coming from backyards or side streets. Some floated inches of the ground, others walked their feet somehow still tied to the earth, others seemed unable to quite rise from their resting place, bodies still half hidden in the ground they moved ponderously as if the soil and all it carried slowed their progress. They seemed to be wondering from house to house, but at each house they stopped and turned away, as if something where warning them away. John’s mind was still tumbling, so it took a long moment to make the connection. The glowing faces carved, grinning and leering in the dark pumpkins were the wards. Without thinking John lifted the glass to his lips and took a slow drink. Roast washed his mouth with hints of the spicy aromas floating in the air. “Town’s old. Seen lots of time pass. No one really understands why this happens or why the black pumpkins work. They do though. So each Halloween when the time arrives folk put out the black pumpkin nurtured through the growing season and it keeps these tricky devils at bay.” John finally was able to tear is eyes from the procession in the street. He looked across at the man. “Name’s Gil, by the by.” “John.” “Sometimes a pumpkin don’t make it. Not enough care taken in the growing most times. Then the house goes unguarded and ghost can get in. Haunts it for awhile. Usually it’s the following year’s pumpkin drives them off. Them things don’t really do any real damage. They play tricks, scarier for them being dead. But still only tricks.” The man took another drink and indicated John should also. “Bet you’re just chalk full of questions.” John nodded numbly. “We’re safe out here?” “Safe enough. A couple years back I had the notion of brewing with my pumpkin after this” he indicated the street with a shadowy hand, “was over. Happenstance brought upon me the fact that I could stay out here among them, guarded still by my pumpkin mind you if I was drinking this.” Photo Credit: Wasatch Brewery / Twitter John looked down at the edge of the porch. The black pumpkin was almost completely invisible from the back. The aroma wafting from all the pumpkins lay thick in the air now. Spices and roast. “And each year I make another batch. May as well enjoy this moment, you’ll have a whole year to get all those questions answered and you’ll get the company of at least one or two of those spirits this year. Get yourself some good first-hand experience, in the tricks department.” Realization dawned suddenly on John and he jumped up. “Don’t be a fool John! You can’t do anything about it now anyway. Sit down. Next year, in the Spring, if you decide to stay that is, the town elders will give you your first seed to plant.” John sat back down. Out in the street the first ghost had turned in at Gil’s gate. “Take another drink John.” THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Wasatch’s Black O’Lantern. If you tasted this beer or have a pint sitting in front of you as you read this review, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours black as the scariest Halloween night. Head creeps to about a finger’s height before quickly dropping away. Medium carbonation keeps the surface writhing in activity. Spices dominate the aroma. Though they dominate only in the sense that they overshadow the dark malt notes; everything about the aroma is very subtle. I catch signs cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. It’s the clove that stands out the most, though again, lightly. There are hints of chocolate and some roastiness. Combined all together it forms a smell that strangely hints at, to me at least, sweet pipe tobacco. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is bold and round. The mouthfeel rolls smoothly with just a hint of creaminess to pull it along. Carbonation is low-medium. At the taste the spice jumps up a bit as if trying a passive scare, though not quite getting there. It’s a good thing it doesn’t. Instead the spice stays mellow washing the palate in light warmth; nutmeg the most present, but stalked by the subtle numbing steps of clove. The hinted-at chocolate of the aroma reappears here along with some roastiness, and just the barest breath of espresso. Nice sweetness joined by low bitterness, carrying through to a spicy drying finish. Aftertaste again seems to remind somehow of tobacco. FINISHING THOUGHTS Alcohol is well hidden. It carries the slight vegetal taste of any pumpkin beer, though for me, it works better in this darker style. Could be slightly roaster. The spices stay subtle and are made even more so by the added complexity of dark roast malt. All in all, this is a great reimagining of a pumpkin beer. It far surpasses some others I’ve had in the past few years. The name, its dark hidden depth, and hints at pumpkin all make it worthy of a place at this year’s Halloween Party. Cheers and Happy Halloween!