Started in 1987 with a small 10 barrel brewhouse, Anderson Valley Brewing Company has grown extensively over the past two decades. Having expanded its production capabilities just a little bit in the past two decades, they now have a wide distribution and name recognition that they might not have had even 10 years ago. Having seen it on the shelf but never having tried it myself, jumping into its lineup with the brewery’s new seasonal barrel-aged pumpkin ale, Pinchy Jeek Barl, sounded like as good a way to start off as any.

Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl Bottle

The barrel program that Anderson Valley has is a partnership with Wild Turkey Bourbon1, who provides the used bourbon barrels that the beer is aged in. Their barrel-aged line consists of four beers—two regular production available year-round and two seasonal beers—with all but the Bourbon Barrel Stout explicitly state that they are aged six months in the Wild Turkey barrels.

  • Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout — 6.9 percent ABV — Regular Production
  • Anderson Valley Huge Arker Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout  — 13.5 percent ABV — Regular Production
  • Anderson Valley Boont Barl Bourbon Barrel Amber Ale — 6.0 percent ABV — Available April through June
  • Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl – 8.5 percent ABV2 — Available August through October

Popping off the cap that says “Solar Powered Brewery” in a psychedelic font on top3 and “IT’S DA KINE” underneath, I pour the dark, mostly opaque orangish brown liquid into my glass. A nice, darker cream-colored head about a half an inch tall forms giving the beer an overall appealing appearance.

While some people get excited about their coffee getting a pumpkin kick in the fall,4 I of course look forward to the various attempts at pumpkin ales. Not having had the Pinky Jeek before, it’s with some curiosity I bring the glass to my nose. Almost immediately I’m overwhelmed with cloyingly sweet bourbon and a buttery spice, with just the slightest hint of floral notes. While odd, though not entirely unpleasant, it’s not what I’ve come to expect from aroma of a pumpkin ale.

Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl

With that first impression fully lodged in my nose, it’s with a bit of hesitation that I take my first sip. Continuing the unique theme from the aroma, there’s a touch of bourbon along with a strong, somewhat artificial flavor that could be interpreted as fake popcorn butter.5 Mashed in along those two notes I’m getting bits of pumpkin pie spices, some artificial vanilla extract and just a general overabundance of sweetness. While the flavor profile wasn’t the best, the mouthfeel is actually pretty good. A nice slight carbonation with a heavy feel to the beer gives me what I would expect from a barrel aged pumpkin ale. As it warms up not much changes, though the sickly sweetness gets stronger and there’s a longer finish with some twangy citrus notes.

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Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl
BREWERY: Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Boonville, Calif.
STYLE: Pumpkin ale
ABV: 8.5 percent
IBU: 20
PRICE: $9.99
RELEASE DATE: August 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Come fall you have a lot of breweries scrambling to get their pumpkin ales out on the market. Some fall short in flavorless messes, some overdo it with in your face pumpkin and others hit the subtle pumpkin-spice nail on the head. I think that the Pinchy Jeek Barl hasn’t really done any of those, as the profile is so unique and subtle on the pumpkin spices that I might have had a hard time guessing this was even a pumpkin ale if I did a blind tasting. The odd thing I found though, is the more I drank the less I minded the flavor. I wouldn’t say it got to the point where I was enjoying it, so much as it got past the feeling of not wanting any more. I think the most disappointing thing was that having so specifically marketed itself as a Wild Turkey Bourbon barrel-aged pumpkin ale, I was expecting more bourbon notes, which were really just a bit lacking. I’d be interested to taste their other Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Series Barl to see if any of the odd flavors are shared traits or if it’s unique to the pumpkin ale. As for the Pinchy Jeek Barl, I don’t think I’ll be seeking any more of it out.
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