I can’t help it. It’s just too tempting to compare this beer with the band of (nearly) the same name. Luckily, this beer has very little relevance to the aforementioned musical group aside from the fact that it does indeed contain smashed pumpkins. In fact, 80kg of dry roasted pumpkin is tossed into the mash along with the British and German malts. This makes Murray’s Smashing Pumpkin a “Pumpkin Ale” – certainly not a common classification.
Smashing pumking has a warm amber colour with a very fine foamy white head that has strong retention. The carbonation is light which allows the drinker to fully appreciate the myriad of subtle flavors.
The aroma is subtle with hints of spice. The first sip brings a wonderful, involved and interesting array of flavors to your mouth. In fact, I drank half the beer simply trying to put my finger on what exactly all the flavors were. The addition of pumpkin adds a subtle sweetness and the fermentation of it has produced esters that are vaguely similar to the aroma of banana. There are strong but nicely muted flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. This is, funnily enough, probably due to the inclusion of the above spices late in the boil. The malt and hop selection is such that they work to complement and balance the spicy sweetness of the other ingredients.
Smashing Pumpkin has an ABV of 5.2%. Due to the complexity and depth of flavor, it definitely is not a “session beer”. Instead, I’d recommend a single glass to be enjoyed by itself or complementing spicy Indian food. Alternatively, it would suit contrasting a seafood dish.
I rate this beer highly, however, I suspect that the unusual flavors will polarise drinkers.