I know, Halloween has come and gone. Shouldn’t we be past pumpkin beers by now?
No. Absolutely not! Why? Well, when is the one time of the year when we consume more pumpkin pie (and other pumpkin sundries) than any other? Thanksgiving! And if you’re going to have a pumpkin beer, you may as well have a good one. Haven’t found one, yet? Then keep reading…
So what is Milwaukee’s Sasquash? It’s more than just the “Pumpkin Porter” that the neck label says. More importantly, it’s not just a regular ale that some schmo tossed a gourd and a bucket full of ginger, nutmeg, and clove in. As a matter of fact, there’s very little spice presence in this beer. What is there is also right on the label…sweet potato…
Appearance: (3.5/5) It’s a good, dark, opaque porter. You can’t see through it, and I’m just fine with that. A nice, dense, darker-tan head rises atop, about a finger’s worth, and then dissipates. Not much of any lacing to speak of. But a little bit of foam just hangs out on the top, even as the top level slowly dips down the glass as you drink it.
Aroma: (4/5) Not as much malty aroma as I would expect from a porter this dark and robust, but lots of caramel to the nose. That’s not to say there’s NO malt to the nose, but it’s not number one. No spice aroma. No hop aroma either. None. And I’m fine with that. Some pumpkin beers are extremely spice-forward. This one, not the case. But you do get a smell of…root. I can’t explain it another way. I can’t tell if that’s the pumpkin I’m smelling, or the sweet potato. But I like it.
Taste: (5/5) Wow is this good. The malt is relatively forward, the pumpkin hangs out in the background, but what you really get is the sweet potato. And it’s fantastic. As in, check to see if your grandmother lent Milwaukee Brewing Company her secret recipe for candied sweet potatoes. There’s a lot of caramel here, almost brown-sugary. It’s a bit heavy, but it still balances well enough. It honest-to-goodness tastes like Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. And not in a gimmicky way. There may be some nutmeg in here, and if there is, it’s subtle.
Drinkability/Mouthfeel: (3.5/5) This beer is good, pleasant-smelling, and extra-tasty, but as mentioned, it’s a bit heavy. Yes, porters are heavy beers, but this one kinda sits on your stomach a bit. I could drink these all day, but I’m a fatty like that. For most people, one or two of these and they’ll be full. Mouthfeel, however, is very pleasant. Very smooth. Almost velvety. Good stuff.
Design: (4.5/5) Maybe it’s because I know the folks who are behind the design (not just of Sasquash, but of all Milwaukee Brewing Co. products), but the design works really well. I especially like the cute little pumpkin character they use on the box. The label is simple and clear. The neck label let’s you know, beyond the cutesy Sasquash name (which is cool) just what this beer is. That’s important. Very few microbreweries give you a name/package that clearly let you know just what it is that you’re drinking. Some are downright non-informative about it. But not Milwaukee. They put everything up front, including the company’s name. I like to know whose stuff I’m drinking. The downside is, unless you’re looking at this on the shelf and can see the bottle, you’re back in the spot of not knowing what the beer is. Sasquash can get away with this more than their other brews with oddball names, but it’s still not a net positive.
Final Score: (20.5/25) On the whole, Milwaukee Sasquash Pumpkin Porter is a top-notch seasonal brew. The taste is both unique, and very pleasant, while reminding you what time of year it is. And you can drink more than one bottle of it at a sitting. Heck, I wouldn’t mind about half a pitcher or so on one shot. But more than that would be a bit much. And that’s fine.