Last week I was walking around the grocery store when I stumbled across this giant orange monstrosity that was a pile of dozens of different types of pumpkin ales, ciders and other types of beer that breweries felt appropriate to sprinkle fall’s signature flavoring in. Wading through stuff that didn’t interest me, I found a couple of beers that weren’t prominently up front, and to my enjoyment one of those was No Label Brewery’s third Off Label release.
You may remember my other Off Label reviews, which include the bourbon barrel aged wee-heavy Perpetual Peace and the double black rye coffee IPA, Boomstick. The third release for the Off Label series was appropriately a pumpkin beer for fall, but with a much more clever and fun name than other pumpkin beers – Nightmare on 1st Street. 1
As you might come to have expected your pumpkin beers to look, the Nightmare on 1st Street pours a cloudy orangish red color. There isn’t much head that builds on the pour, but what little there is dissipates quickly into a foamy rim that clings to the edge of the glass. Eager to see what kind of pumpkin beer I’ve gotten myself into,2 I stick my nose in the glass and take a deep breath in. Sweet malts, a very vegetal pumpkin aroma lacking tons of spice, caramel and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg fill my nostrils. Much less spice and sweet than I was expecting, but that can always change once I taste it!
Taking my first sip I’m greeted with much more spice than the nose would have suggested, but just the right amount. Notes of cinnamon, clove and ginger join the vegetal pumpkin, along with sweet malts to round out the profile. The mouthfeel is right in the medium weight, not too heavy and not too watery, with a lot of light carbonation that makes the mouthfeel quite pleasant. For the finish more light pumpkin pie spices, some caramel and a light sweetness linger, inviting another sip to enjoy all those flavors again.
As it warms up there’s much more sweet pumpkin spice and a warm alcohol note on the nose, aligning the aroma much closer to the taste than when it’s cold. While the aroma is quite different, the taste and mouthfeel don’t change much, continuing with much the same sweet malts, pumpkin and spices.