Beer Review – Griffin Claw – Bourbon Imperial Screamin’ Pumpkin Ale

"Pairs well with John Carpenter's 'Prince of Darkness'"

Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 9%
8.5 Stars

After patiently waiting for the hot and humid days of Summer to die a slow and sticky death, I’m happy to say that Autumn has finally arrived in Michigan. With this glorious mild weather comes football, hoodies, Halloween, and of course the inevitable flood of pumpkin ales to every beer store shelf.

What better beer to kick off the Halloween season with than one in a wax-sealed bottle featuring an evil, flying, cartoon pumpkin head… Griffin Claw’s Bourbon Imperial Screamin’ Pumpkin, or BIP for short.

Honestly, I was initially a bit hesitant to give this one a try. I’ve sampled a number of pumpkin beers this year and I’m finding that many brewers think that pumpkin ales should taste like you’re licking the inside of a jack-o-lantern. Luckily, the good folks at Griffin Claw know their stuff.

After making my way through the wax on the neck of the bottle and popping the cap, I poured it into my glass. Amber-orange in color with a very light head, it looks pretty much what you’d expect a pumpkin ale to look like.

The smell of BIP is a lovely blend of nutmeg, cinnamon and bourbon, and you can certainly pick those up in it’s taste as well. With no single ingredient overpowering the other, BIP tastes surprisingly balanced. There are smooth bourbon and wood notes along with the sweet taste of pumpkin pie. Perhaps I should skip the dessert after Thanksgiving dinner and pour myself one of these. Do you think anyone will question me if I top off my glass with whipped cream?

The whipped cream, while fun, is probably unnecessary, as I found this to be a very creamy, medium-bodied beer. Nutmeg, cinnamon and clove are prevalent, and thankfully the taste of both pumpkin and bourbon aren’t overpowering. This beer is many good.

I’m sure I’ll be enjoying this one quite a bit this Halloween season. In fact, if you stop at my house for trick-or-treating, don’t be surprised if you find me with a candy bowl and one hand and a snifter of BIP in the other.