About the Brewery (from branchlinebrewing.com):
Branchline Brewing Company is a production brewery based out of San Antonio, TX. We will focus on high quality craft beer utilizing local and regional ingredients whenever possible. Branchline Brewing Company’s focus is not only to provide our offering to the extreme craft beer drinker, but also to the casual drinker that enjoys a lighter product.
About the Beer (from the bottle):
San Antonio, our home, has a rich history, particularly downtown near the Alamo and River Walk where the Menger hotel looms. This historic 1859 hotel has been host to thousands of visitors and holds the title of “Most-Haunted Hotel in America.” Of the 32 ghosts that reside there, Teddy Roosevelt himself attempts to buy patron’s drinks while many more roam the rooms, halls, and lobby. Toast the Menger 32 with this ale brewed with pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, and local spookiness!
Style: Pumpkin Beer
I’m just going to get the negativity out of the way on this one: I’m not a big fan of pumpkin beers. Never have been. Occasionally there are standouts that change my mind, but overall it is just not a style for me. When I saw that Branchline was going to do a different pumpkin beer this year (their offering last year had roast pumpkin and Hatch green chiles if I remember right, and I unfortunately missed it… I love green chile) I was interested to try it. Yes, I’m not much of a Pumpkin Beer guy, but I love Branchline’s beers, and I love the stuff that Paul Ford (head brewer, formerly at 5 Stones) comes up with, so I was excited nonetheless. Plus, MENGER 32 has a badass name based on a badass story, so that helps too!
Pouring it into my BBco 1 Year Anniversary chalice, the M32 portrays itself in a ruddy, rusty copper brown hue with a barely-tanned head that sticks around for quite a while. When the cap does peel back a bit, it leaves very beautiful lacing on the side of my glass, reminding me what I have drunk before and making me think forward to what I will drink soon. In my nose, I am happy to say that this is not a spice bomb. I think my biggest issue with the whole Pumpkin Beer craze is that most of them don’t taste like pumpkin; they taste like pumpkin pie spices. Now I like pumpkin pie – no, that’s a lie, I LOVE pumpkin pie – but I don’t get crazy over pumpkin pie beer. I actually smell (call me crazy here) pumpkin first, then the spices, and then a bit of hop aroma on the backend to balance the spice. These are good opening thoughts.
Once it hits my tongue, the spices are more evident, but not horribly so. The cinnamon and the nutmeg are most forward, with some of the ginger mingling with the ops on the back part of my tongue. I get the pumpkin in the flavor as well but not as prominently as I had hoped. There is a bit of hop bite on the end, and it does an admirable job of balancing the cornucopia of spices this beer brings to the table. I do wish that the pumpkin was a bit more pronounced in the M32, but I am glad that it is not just a glass full of spices like many other companies’ inevitable fall seasonal offerings are. The mouthfeel on M32 is medium bodies with a bit of viscosity. There is a certain thickness here; it’s not a stout or anything but this is most certainly a bit heavier than your average ale of this color. As far as the drinkability goes, this wouldn’t be one that I would want to pound all night, but this would be an amazing compliment to some turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving. Actually, now I need to go get a second bottle pretty quick here so I can be prepared for next week.
Overall I am impressed with the restraint the M32 brings to the style. There is pumpkin here, not just pumpkin pie. Most of the Pumpkin Beers that I have enjoyed are brewed on a backbone of stout or porter, but M32 manages to balance the spices on what seems to be a brown ale base, and that is extremely impressive to me. If you like Pumpkin Beers for the spices you’ll probably like this one… if you like Pumpkin Beers for the pumpkin you’ll probably like this one… pretty much, if you like Pumpkin Beers, you’ll like this one. It’s not my favorite BBco beer ever; because it’s just a style I don’t generally dig on, but for what it is I am incredibly impressed. Get it now so you have some for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it will be a great pair with those meals for sure!
Overall 7 / 10
Brewery site: http://www.branchlinebrewing.com