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.
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.
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.