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Oct 17 2012
Ride the Rails: Starr Hill’s Boxcar Pumpkin Porter

Let me tell you something about Charlottesville, Virginia and the surrounding counties: If you like beer, plan on dying there.  It warms the cockles of my  cholesterol clogged strawberry tart that my home state of Virginia has become a blossoming brewery capitol of the world.  From Port City Brewing to The Brew Ridge Trail, The Commonwealth has quickly become a haven for brewing and beer drinkers.

Starr Hill Brewery is one of the main reasons why people look to “The Birthplace of Presidents” for their craft beer.

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the intoxicating Blue Ridge Mountains, Starr Hill has produced some of the most popular seasonals and year round brews available today.  From “The Love” to their “Dark Starr Stout,” both Virginians and out-of-staters alike guzzle the suds this rapidly growing brewery produces.  So much so that they recently expanded their distribution all the way up to Philadelphia.  Starr Hill’s Autumn Seasonal is the Boxcar Pumpkin Porter.  It’s described as such on the brewery’s official website:

Boxcar Pumpkin Porter is a traditional English-style Brown Porter with pumpkin added to the mash. Light spicing allows the subtle flavors of pumpkin and roasty porter to shine through. Boxcar is a session beer at 4.7% and very drinkable.

If you know anything about Mr. Slow & Low and the cut of my jib, you know that Pumpkin Beers something of a passion of mine.  Their spike in popularity over the past several years has caused a flood of new product to cascade into the market place.  Pumpkin beers cover a vast spectrum of flavor and spice.  It’s increasingly more difficult to stand out in this ever expanding crowd, but Boxcar manages to do just that.

From what is written above, you can tell I am a fan of the brewery and seasonal.  With that in mind, I tell you that I find this Pumpkin Porter to be a quizzical beer.  There is a faint hint of pumpkin in the beer’s aroma but not much in it’s taste; it’s extremely smokey.  So much so that one could almost derive the taste of smoked meat during your first pull.  Most pumpkin beers assault the taste-buds with loads of nutmeg and cinnamon, but not this one. It’s the Jack O’ Lantern of the genre.  More flame and smoke than seed and pulp. While I love a pumpkin pie-like brew as much as the next Autumn enthusiast, this one is a welcome outlier. Hit the Jump for our rating & final thoughts.

If your pallet doesn’t accommodate spice as well as smoke, Starr Hill has developed the solution for you.  Smokey, subtle and different.  I give the Boxcar Pumpkin Porter 3.5 Beer & Pig Coozies out of 5.  A tasty brew that pairs well with a chill in the air & a roaring bonfire.

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