Having picked up this year's iteration of the Advent Beer Calendar over two months ago has meant an even greater sense of anticipation than in previous years. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; I even applied limits to my beer consumption in November (within the bounds of proper hospitality, of course) in order to heighten this sensation. But at long last, December has arrived, and the first surprise beer may be had.
The initial offering is from Anderson Valley Brewing, and is their Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale. Now, I like me a pumpkin ale, for certain, but while it is an easy enough style to do, it is a difficult one to do well.
Fall Hornin' pours a dark, dark Amber, with a generous head. Traces of cinnamon and nutmeg precede any trace of malt or hops in the scent, at least initially.
The spices dominate the initial taste but soon gives way to a malty finish, and best of all, it is not overpoweringly sweet, despite having little to no bitterness. One of my favourite versions of this style is Alley Kat's Pumpkin Pie, and Fall Hornin' compares very favourably to it.
I also appreciate the label's whimsical mascot of an antlered bear, but starting the Christmas beer calendar while looking at a label decorated with bats is a little incongruous, I must say.